Dnata charts multi-brand course bringing Netflights into fold

Dnata says it plans to operate a multiple brand strategy online having added Netflights to its portfolio of UK travel firms.

The consumer-facing component and holiday deals site joined the Dubai-based travel agency and ground handling arm of Emirates Group this week in a £45 million buyout from Thomas Cook.

Iain Andrew, senior division vice president for travel at Dnata, said prior to Tuesday’s announcement Gold Medal had already agreed to feed its flights inventory to Travel Republic.

Andrew said this deal was poised to go live and would augment Travel Republic’s strength in short-haul destinations with long-haul.

Asked about cross-over between the two online brands, Andrew said: “I anticipate we will keep the Netflights brand and capitalise on that with what we’ve got with Travel Republic.

“They are quite different and in the online space multiple brands is not a bad thing to have.”

Technology is at the core of Dnata’s interest in UK travel firms and Andrew said Travel Republic’s home-built systems are now powering Dnatatravel.com.

It has also aped Travel Republic’s online marketing and social media approach.

On the other side of the equation, the southwest London-based OTA has seen bookings increase 40% and turnover up 44% since the acquisition (like-for-like 2011 figures compared to 2013).

Dnata has also invested in Travel Republic’s technology team with 20 more developers having joined the firm as it looks to roll out next generation mobile sites.

Andrew said it was no coincidence that the highly acquisitive Dnata had returned to the UK for its latest buyout.

“It’s a great place to align yourself with. There are some really strong travel companies which you can invest in and help establish both here in their home country or abroad.”

The Gold Medal deal was widely welcomed in the UK travel trade, the firm having been a strong supporter of agents throughout its history.

Martin Andrew, commercial director of The Travel Network Group which owns the Travel Trust Association and Worldchoice consortia, struck a preferred supplier deal last year.

It is looking for Gold Medal’s new owners to bring new product to market through its buying power while developing new API connectivity to help agent partners to access and sell it.

“They will be able to bring their buying power to bear to bring in new product and better rates and investment in the technology side because I don’t think they’ve had that in the last two years.”

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