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Smiles and frowns in Asia at Der's Kuoni buy
Raini Hamdi, Singapore, June 23, 2015

WHILE Go Vacation has every reason to smile at Der Touristik's acquisition of Kuoni’s European businesses, other Asians DMCs ponder if they will end up with the scraps of Der’s much-enlarged pie – if at all.


Kuoni-owned Asian Trails, for instance, stands to lose Kuoni accounts to Go Vacation, which is owned by Der’s parent, Rewe. Tour East Singapore also handles Kuoni accounts in some parts of Asia, especially Singapore. Although Go Vacation does not have offices other than in Thailand and Indonesia, an expanded pie might see its expansion elsewhere.


These are early days yet, and DMCs TTG Asia e-Daily contacted prefer to look on the bright side.


Said Asian Trails CEO, Laurent Kuenzle: “Since Rewe only has offices in two countries in South-east Asia, I believe there will be ample opportunities for us to look at least after parts of the Kuoni business.


“We are geared to continue to look after the Kuoni specialists everywhere in South-east Asia since, with our 33 offices in eight countries, we cover the entire region as well as China without intermediaries. This change will also create new opportunities and we will be ready for them.”


Judy Lum, group vice president sales & marketing of Tour East Singapore, hopes it will be business as usual as the DMC has served Kuoni well in Singapore for over 30 years. She added it would be an opportunity for Tour East if Der decides to review the benefits of a consolidated groundhandling tender in Asia.


The entire Kuoni European business Der is purchasing is worth two billion euros in revenue from 1.5 million customers, according to 2014 figures.


When the transaction is complete, Der, the second-largest German tour operator after Tui, will be a leading pan-European travel company with source markets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the UK, Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.


This totals a whopping 7.7 million customers and boosts revenue from 4.9 billion euros to seven billion euros, also according to 2014 data.


Chris Bailey, senior vice president - sales & marketing, Centara Hotels & Resorts, said: “I think it’s a great move – it makes a key partner and very established operator in Germany a much wider pan-European partner. There are economies in doing business for both sides.”


Following the acquisition, Der will add Kuoni, Apollo (Scandinavia) and a large number of specialists to its worldwide brands, the most important ones for Asia of which include Dertour, Meier’s Weltreisen, Jahn Reisen, ITS and ADAC Reisen.


For some, the winners and losers debate still extend to the sale itself, with several sources telling TTG Asia e-Daily the real winner is Der.


“I believe there is money to be made in retail and wholesale tourism also out of Europe,” a source who declined to be named said adamantly.


Meanwhile, Hotelplan Switzerland, which was keen to grab Kuoni Switzerland, said it regrets Kuoni being sold to a foreign company. But CEO Thomas Stirnimann added “we were only interested to take over Kuoni Switzerland and obviously the package deal was more appealing”.


Stirnimann does not expect a bigger rivalry between Hotelplan and a Kuoni under Der, saying all the German tour operators are already present in the market as it is “and, I might add, that we are all competitive and will be”.

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