Agencies line up for new Thomson travel brand

A Thomson Travel Group-backed upmarket travel company launching both on the high street and the web later this year is talking to agencies about the initiative.

A Thomson Travel Group-backed upmarket travel company launching

both on the high street and the web later this year is talking to

agencies about the initiative.



TravelChest, which will go live next month on the internet, already has

more than 100 tour operators signed up and is now looking for an agency

to handle the consumer launch.



Customers will be able to go online to research destinations and can

then call a personal travel adviser or visit one of the retail sites to

make a holiday booking.



The company decided to structure itself this way after research showed

that customers are reluctant to book holidays online without being able

to gain advice face to face or at least over the telephone.



’The travel world is changing and Thomson wants a stake in the next

phase in the new-age developments,’ Nigel Carpenter, the chief executive

of TravelChest, said. ’The site will offer a wide range of holidays and

travel options. The focus will be on specialist and upmarket holiday

companies.’



Carpenter declined to confirm the size of the stake that Thomson is

taking other than to say it was a ’minority’.



Charles Gurassa, the Thomson Group chief executive who bought into the

company in January, has said that across the next two years Thomson will

invest heavily in driving its e-commerce business.



The online travel market is becoming crowded. Emap’s Bargainhols.com is

offering travel of all descriptions and holidayexpert.com targets more

discerning online travellers. Deckchair.com claims to be the simplest

option.



Many sites, including Expedia.com, Travelocity.com and Travelselect.com,

are also setting up as one-stop shops for all travel requirements.



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