An administrator’s report on failed OTA Bookable Holidays has called in to question the viability of the conventional call centre based agency model.
The report by KRE Corporate Recovery revealed the firm slumped from making a £266,000 net profit in 2012 to a £623,000 loss in the year to September 30, 2014.
The circumstances of the collapse were set out as creditors were invited to a meeting in Reading on December 8. Bookable failed on October 14 with 960 forward bookings and the loss of 36 jobs.
The KRE report stated the firm had suffered the loss of three airline operators, which had “reduced working capital and the buffer this provided.”
In addition, the trend towards online booking “meant the days of the conventional call centre model were numbered.”
It said customers were thinking twice about the need to pay upfront for bookings through agents, given the option to book flights direct with credit-card protection linked to free-cancellation transactions on hotel-only apps.
The report said “the increase in personal computer use and the trend towards online booking meant that the days of the conventional call centre model were numbered.
“The rapid technological development of smartphones and tablets meant that more and more potential customers were looking to shop online using them.”
KRE said Bookable belatedly tried to respond, by bringing forward plans for a mobile-friendly website and employing two developers.
However, amid poor 2014 summer trading and no prospect of launching on mobile until January, more working capital was sought from investors.
This failed to materialise and when attempts to save the firm, including agreeing a £400,000 bank overdraft, transpired to be inadequate it sought professional advice about ceasing trading.
On November 13, Travel Up bought Bookable Holidays’ assets. KRE stated it paid £390,000 including the lease on the Aldermaston offices.