TUI Travel today reported that its strategy of focusing on online sales and selling holidays that are different from those offered by competitors was “progressing well” in its key UK market.
TUI said January online bookings for winter holidays were up by 19% in the UK, compared to the same time last year, while summer online bookings were up by 16%. Of its UK winter bookings, 49% were booked online, 10 percentage points up against last year, while 42% of its summer 2012 bookings were made online, up by six percentage points on last time.
Overall, however, cumulative bookings to January 29 were down by 10% compared to the same time last year, though this was an improvement on November 27 when they were 12% down and reflected, said TUI, a trend towards booking later.
TUI reduced its UK holiday capacity by 9% for the winter 2011/12 season and said that at this point it had fewer holidays left to sell than at the same time last year.
Its UK mainstream websites are the leaders in online travel, says TUI, with visits to the Thomson.co.uk website up by 11% and First Choice.co.uk up by 45% in January, compared to the same time last year.
Meanwhile, 64% of bookings for summer 2012 made from this country were for “differentiated” holidays, of a type offered only by TUI. These include higher-margin exclusive, premium and child-free holidays.
The update came as TUI Travel reported sales up by 5% to £2.8bn in the three months to December 31, compared to the same time last year. But operating losses grew to £131m, 27% more than at the same time last year. The change, said chief executive Peter Long, was “principally driven by lower demand for North African destinations.”
Long said: “We are pleased with the development of bookings and pricing in the UK, where we have outperformed the market during the key booking period in January. We have also had a particularly good performance in online sales. We believe that this outperformance reflects the trust that customers place in our market leading brands.”