Youtravel, a globally operating B2B-only bed bank business, has announced the appointment of Paul Riches, as the company’s new managing director for UK and Ireland.
In his new position, Riches - formerly global business development director at lowcostbeds - will be responsible for the company’s UK and Ireland trade activities, as well as for developing the company’s global business. We caught up with Riches to discover what plans he has for the company and how agents are continuing to remain at the forefront of the business.
Riches said: “The main thrust of what we want to do is continue to grow our UK business and, at the same time, expand globally. Since Youtravel/Meeting Point became part of FTI Group, this has given us a lot of buying power and has meant we can now offer the trade a much larger range of accommodation – we currently provide agents with the group’s 35 Labranda hotels and resorts and more than 100 exclusive hotels. In 2016, the total number of hotels that we will be offering to the trade will be in excess of 100,000.
“Exclusive deals and unique accommodation continues to sell well with the trade, so we’ll be looking at offering a greater degree of exclusivity and value for agents. We’re also looking to diversify our product offering. For example, we’d like to offer more hotels for cruise agents and a greater range of city products as we grow into other global markets.”
The company is also placing importance on tailoring its offering to travel agents through its new formed structure of office based key account managers and a team of three UK distribution mangers.
Riches said: “We’re currently working with individual agents and the trade in general to make sure that we tailor our offering based on demand. This includes things like offering technical support and tailored offers for ‘deal based’ channels. We have been successful with this in the past and if we manage to improve in these areas, then we will gain business because of it.
“One of the factors that appealed to me about joining the business, was that Youtravel is trade-only – something that we have no plans to change. Our aim is to grow into a global accommodation-only provider – which we will be doing in a controlled and targeted way. We have identified six source markets in which we wish to develop, as we see these offering the most potential for future growth. The first to launch is Italy, with the rest to follow in 2016.”