Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent travel retailer, has signed a contract to move its GDS business to Travelport. The agency chain has also set up a multi-million pound joint venture with cruise agent World Travel Holdings that will manage and develop all its cruise business outside of the Hays Travel Independence Group. It will also launch a new long-haul tour operator, SixStarHolidays.
In addition to providing Hays with air and hotel content, Travelport will also provide Hays with access to its growing range of digital marketing partnerships and services.
Deployment of Travelport’s Smartpoint app, with its intelligent translation allowing agents trained on another GDS to be up and running quickly, was key to achieving a smooth migration, and will deliver significant efficiencies to Hays’s staff such as reducing key strokes by up to 72% when booking a flight.
John Hays, Founder and Chief Executive, said: “A critical component in selecting our GDS provider was finding a company that could not only provide us with innovative technology and extensive content, but also had a team whose vision and philosophy was aligned to ours. With Travelport, we have a partner that is bringing a new dynamic to travel distribution, and one that will keep us ahead of the game now and in the future.”
“We are thrilled that Hays Travel has chosen Travelport as their travel technology provider,” said Simon Ferguson, Regional Director UK & Ireland, Travelport. “Hays is one of the most high profile and respected names in UK travel and we are looking forward to working closely with them over the coming months and years to help them grow their business.”
World Travel Holdings
WTH, which claims to be the world’s largest cruise agent, will handle Hays’s cruise website, cruise call centre and cruise representation in the chain’s 43 high street shops. The new joint venture will also launch a new long-haul tour operator, SixStarHolidays.co.uk to be run by WTH (UK) co-founder Mal Barritt, who will be managing director.
SixStarHolidays will provide top-end, land-based luxury tours, tapping Hays Travel and WTH’s existing customer base. It will be based in Chorley, Lancashire, alongside WTH and will initially employ 20 to 30 members of staff in a calls centre. Mal Barritt and fellow WTH co-founder James Cole will be joined by Hays Travel directors John and Irene Hays on the board of the new company.
“We are confident that the tour operator will be up and running by late December, early January,” said James Cole. “Within the first 12 months we will be recruiting 20 to 30 people to be based in the calls centre; eventually we will be looking to recruit homeworkers as well.”
SixStarHolidays will initially be a direct-sell brand but may evolve in the future to sell through agents.