“Every single data point,” points to a huge amount of pent-up demand among European travelers, TUI Musement’s CEO, David Schelp, said at Arival’s Spring Into Summer conference on Tuesday.
Schelp also said that TUI Musement would continue to sell Guidatours products after the tour operator’s acquisition by rival OTA GetYourGuide.
It may take another month for pent-up demand to turn into bookings as vaccination rates across the continent catch up with the U.S. and U.K. and more clarity emerges on restrictions and where and when Europeans will be able to travel.
“Every single source we look at, every single customer we ask, they all confirm one thing — people are fed up with the lockdown,” Schelp said. “They’re fed up with restrictions. Travel and experiencing something is very, very high up on that wishlist.”
“We do think that when the season gets to its high peak — July, August, September, October — we have very good reason to be optimistic.”
Security and flexibility have joined price and availability as the main drivers of traveler behavior in Europe, Schelp continued.
Customers need to be able to change their mind at short notice because of changing restrictions. Mask wearing and social distancing has also become normal across Europe and the UK and are “in very high consumer demand”.
“We believe that we should give customers the best products”
When asked whether TUI Musement would continue to sell products owned by GetYourGuide, Schelp said: “Yes, we believe that we should give customers the best products that are available in the market. That’s part of our value promise to our customers.
“I think we should, yes. The question is, is it the best product that’s available, or are there alternatives out there?”
Asked whether Musement might also launch its own branded experiences, Schelp pointed out that TUI Group already operates an experience operations vertical under the brand Tui Collections. Schelp said this served 1.3 million customers a year. “We probably have the broadest portfolio of controlled experiences already,” he said.
“We’re now looking at how we potentially expand that concept to other destinations.
“At the moment, we have that [business] separated. We do that separation for a reason, because operating is very different from distribution.
“It’s a model that works for TUI and we will see what GetYourGuide does with this model. It’ll be interesting to follow that over the coming weeks or months.”
Booking and Viator partnership came as no surprise
At the end of April, Booking.com announced a global partnership with Viator. The Tripadvisor-owned experiences OTA will provide its inventory to Booking’s Attractions.
TUI Musement entered into a similar relationship with Booking in June 2020. This was followed by an agreement to provide inventory to Trivago on 27 April.
Booking’s new partnership came as no surprise to Schelp. “It was always clear that they would select a first partner and then they would subsequently select other partners,” he said.
“We’re still very happy that Booking chose us as the first partner. We were very well informed about the relationship that Booking is building with Viator.”