Former Tui boss Blastland brought in to advise OTA Loveholidays

Former Tui Travel managing director Dermot Blastland is to join online travel agent Loveholidays as non-executive director.

Blastland was most recently advising OTA On the Beach which secured a £73 million buy-out by its second private equity Inflexion in July. It has since been linked to a £200 million IPO.

Blastland said he had been chosen by Loveholidays for his extensive travel knowledge, combined with experience acquired working for the Manchester-based OTA.

Loveholidays has been running only two-and-a-half years and has “aggressive growth plans”, according to Blastland.

He said the company, which is headed by managing director Alex Francis, already turns over more than £70 million, is profitable and has a repeat customer rate of just shy of 20% – about 19% of all bookings are made by people who have previously bought a holiday through Loveholidays.

“Thomson would love that,” he said. “You can keep spending on pay per click, but the important thing is to keep getting those customers to repeat purchase with you.”

Blastland told Travel Weekly: “It’s very reminiscent of On The Beach. Loveholidays’ site is more upmarket compared to On The Beach which was very strong three-star, and it’s doing really well in a very short time and getting quite big.

“It is investing a lot of its profits back into its growth and is doing something really quite interesting. You can do a normal search, if you know where you want to go and when, but you can also enter a budget and get a list of what’s available back.

“They do about a billion searches every morning and compile it all. It’s kind of emulating what Thomson does, but much, much wider as Thomson only gives you Thomson product.”

Loveholidays also has former lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman as the chairman of Loveholidays advisory board and has Hays Travel owner and managing director John Hays on its board.

Hays Travel currently provides Loveholidays’ Atol licence through its Independence Group consortium as well as its call centre and customer service functions, according to Blastland.

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