Hays to the rescue

By | Category: Travel news

It emerged this morning that John and Irene Hays, the founders and owners of the independent travel agency chain, Hays Travel, has bought all 555 Thomas Cook shops from the receivers.

There were rumours yesterday that a number of travel organisations were looking at buying the shops with as many as three bids per store. But the feeling was that individual stores or clumps would be bought rather than the whole portfolio. It could be that the receivers took the view that a single buyer was a better option despite the likelihood of realising a smaller sum.

The purchase says two things to us travellers and holidaymakers. The first is that the couple believe there is still a substantial role for high street travel agencies – as opposed to online ones – to still exist and be profitable.  The second is that they believe that regardless of any decision on Brexit they still believe there will be a considerable demand for holidays.

The advantage that Hays has is that it is an independent travel agent and not linked to one brand. Go into a Thomas Cook store in the old days and there was every chance that the first holiday to which you would be shown would be a Thomas Cook one. Go to a Tui or Virgin shop and you are still more likely to be shown a TUI or Virgin brand holiday than one from a rival.

Therefore you and I might feel happier that we are really be shown the best option for what we want rather than one where the highest commissions might be made. Or can we? Hays Travel may have particular deals with certain tour operators but we are still likely to be shown a better choice than we might have been by a travel agency owned by a tour operator.

The couple already have over 180 shops but they also have something else that Thomas Cook didn’t have. This billion pound company has a number of people who operate from their homes and who offer coverage in a more personal and local way. That could be a big advantage if the duo decide some shops might have to close due to high rents, having too many shops in a small area or another reason/

At the moment the 2,500 staff who worked in those Thomas Cook stories must be relieved. And we as holidaymakers should also be relieved as well that we will still have choices on the high street.

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