Kuoni grows direct bookings

Swiss-based tour operator Kuoni has increased the proportion of bookings taken online, with direct distribution accounting for more than half of sales.

The Swiss-based tour operator’s  interim results for the six months to end-June showed that the internet accounted for 17% of bookings across the group, a 1% increase on the first half of 2009.

Its call centres handled 16% – the same as last time – with Kuoni’s own shops taking 23% compared with 21%. Third-party agents sold 44%, 3% less than in H1 09.

In the UK, 62% of its overall business is direct, with its specialist brands seeing 80%+ levels of direct sales. Kuoni said that most UK direct sales are via the call centres.

Its strongest online unit is Scandinavia, where 43% of bookings are made online.

The financial performance of Kuoni’s UK operations is bundled with Benelux. This part of the business saw turnover of CHF270m (£168m), a 9.4% drop, generating an EBIT or operating loss of CHF 2.2m (£1.4m)  compared with last year’s slight gain of CHF0.2m (£120K).

“Demand in the UK market suffered especially severely from the effects of the volcanic ash crisis, heavy snowfall and repeated strike action at the national carrier. The decline in the EBIT result is attributable largely to the negative impact incurred through the volcanic ash crisis,” it said.

Kuoni added that CV Travel was hit as a result of demonstrations and strike action in Greece.

Total exceptional losses in the half from the ash crisis for the group came in at CHF15.2m (£9.5m).

Current trading in the UK and Benelux is also behind last year. On August 8, booking volumes were 6% behind the same stage last year with booking value down 3% in local currencies.

Headline figures for the first half show that across the group, turnover remained stable at CHF 1.8bn (£ 1.1bn) with the net loss reduced to CHF46.6m (£29m) from CHF51.3m (£32m) a year earlier.

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