Tui CEO: Competition comes not only from Cook
The boss of Tui Travel has praised arch-rival Thomas Cook and its chief executive, Harriet Green, for becoming a stronger competitor.
Thomas Cook’s future has been under question since autumn 2011, but in recent weeks it has put together a new €1.87 billion refinancing deal. This led Tui’s chief executive, Peter Long, to comment that a more stable competitor would be good for the whole travel trade.
Speaking exclusively to TTG Digital, he said: “The management team is rehabilitating a business and they’ve brought it back from a terrible position to a very strong, sound position from which to build – that’s certainly good for the industry.”
He continued: “We don’t want anyone wallowing around because that is damaging. To see a strong and healthy industry with all the big players focusing on delivering great experiences for customers and good returns for shareholders, ensuring lots of opportunities for colleagues, is extremely important.”
Despite similarities between some key aspects of the Cook strategy and Tui’s, including Cook’s move towards more differentiated product, Long said he was unconcerned.
“Of course they have taken some of the things we are doing – you would do,” he said. “But it’s not just a copy of what we are doing. They’ve got their own thoughts and ideas, and they’ve got new people coming in from outside the industry with a fresh approach, that’s healthy. They’ve got a huge ambition, and you really do have to take your hat off to them in terms of what they’ve done to refinance the business – it’s been a great journey since Green joined.”
Tui’s competition now ranges from no-frills carriers to American online companies, not just Thomas Cook, Long added.
[pictured: Tui CEO Peter Long; courtesy TTG Digital]