Booking Holidays has changed enormously over the last 10 years (see "How the Web has transformed Travel"). As a Consumer, I doubt that you are aware of just how polarised the The UK Travel Industry is, or how it affects you. For instance, did you know that just two companies are responsible for nearly 80% of holidays booked in the UK (Thomas Cook and TUI)?
Between them, these two companies have swallowed up most of their medium-sized competitors over the years, leaving the remaining 2000 or so other Tour Operators fighting for the remaining 20% of the UK market.
Both these big companies own a series of Brands, many of which you may recognise but considered separate businesses; in fact they are part of the bigger brand. To clarify this for you, here is a list from both these companies, showing just how many brands they control (in the UK alone) -
Thomas Cook Holidays
Swiss Travel Service
Thomas Cook Signature
Thomas Cook Tours
Thomas Cook Flights
First Choice Holidays
Hayes & Jarvis
Gullivers Sports Travel
Club Vass Active Holidays
Both also own many overseas Brands, as they are part of a foreign Parent company or own Operators in various other countries.
In addition to this, these companies also often operate Web sites that are branded with different names, capturing more of the online marketplace in the process - eg. Flexibletrips.com is owned by Thomas Cook, whist Holidays-Uncovered.co.uk (once an independent review site) is now owned by TUI.
Of course, nothing is wrong with big companies offering such a high proportion of the product in the marketplace. The same applies in retail, with Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda etc. Ironically, however, the bigger travel companies performed badly for "customer satisfaction" recently - read at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1240684/ .
Due to the budgets and resources that these big companies have to entice us to buy from them, often the smaller and more specialist companies are never visible and struggle to survive. Usually these companies provide an excellent quality of product and very personal level of service, at competitive prices. They are generally specialists in their chosen Destination or the type of holiday they sell (eg. escorted tours, activity), so offer a wealth of guidance and information. With over 2000 to choose from, the opportunity to try something different is enormous.
AwayWorldwide.com aims to provide you with information on as many different suppliers and options as we can. We believe in providing a "level playing field" for all suppliers, with our "Travel Directory" listing as many companies as we have time to enter. In time this will be the best starting point for your next holiday search.