the commercial director of Tui Spain, Valentin Escalera, details the strengths of its offer for this summer season. In an interview with Preferential, ensures pent-up demand for travel is in effect, although the war is slowing sales and causing cancellations, which will delay recovery. Likewise, it highlights the The company’s “clear and determined” commitment to digitalization from now on.
Interrogate. What novelties are you bringing to the Spanish market for the summer?
Answer. The main novelty is that we will offer exclusive river cruises on the Rhine and the Danube for the Spanish market. We are also betting on significant capacity in our main destinations, especially in America. Highlighting the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru.
Q. What are the most requested destinations?
R Looking ahead to the summer, American destinations are doing very well, led by the USA. Demand for Costa Rica continues and Mexico, Colombia and Peru are growing strongly. Safaris in Kenya and Tanzania also maintain a quantity of demand, while in Asia and pending more openings or greater flexibility in more countries, the Maldives continues to be the main destination, as well as its combinations .
In Medium Distances, the Middle East monopolizes a large part of the requests, Egypt is starting to have pre-pandemic figures, as well as Turkey and Jordan.
Q. What type of travel is most attractive to customers this year?
R Cultural trips are our specialty and this is where we continue to have more demand this year. At the segment level, honeymoons are performing very well, as well as family travel. The demand has been contained and there is a desire to share experiences with ours again.
Q. Are river cruises the flagship of your 2022 lineup? How important will they be in your offer?
R Yes, this is a project we had planned for 2020 and delayed due to the pandemic. This has allowed us to have enough time to design an excellent product and to surround ourselves with great specialists in this segment, both in the preparation and contracting of the product and in the management and in-flight entertainment for the Spanish market. . These are fully renovated 4* Sup boats (River Diamond and River Sapphire) and, in addition, in order to offer a more premium product to our customers, we will also have guaranteed cabins on the Group’s 5* boats (TUI Maya, TUI Island and TUI Skyla).
This new product will be important, but our core business will remain our Great Trips programming on five continents.
P. Will you bet on competitive prices given the impact of the pandemic on families’ pockets?
R We have always tried to offer a very good product at a very competitive price and without a doubt at this time this continues to be one of our objectives.
Q. Do you sell all of your products through agencies? Do you exclude direct sales or is this an option to be valued?
R Our sales channel remains travel agencies. We have always supported them and wish to continue working with them. For the moment, we exclude direct sales.
What we do is listen to proposals from entities that are looking for a specific product and a specific value proposition for their affiliates or customers. A totally different product from our general programming.
Q. Does the war in Ukraine affect reserves? Will it mark the future of the summer season?
R Yes, we had to cancel special operations to European destinations over Easter and the summer sales have slowed down. The good rate of growth that we had in the previous weeks has slowed down.
If the conflict is not resolved in the next few weeks, it will certainly affect our summer sales. Now, the most important thing is that there is a quick resolution and an end to the drama that the Ukrainian people are going through.
P. Are you afraid of suffering the consequences of inflation in Spain?
R Undoubtedly, rising prices in general, with energy at historic highs and the sense of near-future uncertainty that we are currently experiencing, is not good news for a sector as sensitive as ours. This touches us as many customers who were about to close and their summer booking have stopped and are waiting to see how everything develops. In any case, the contained demand, the great desire to resume travel and the weariness of the situation experienced over the past two years make us optimistic about the summer sales.
Q. How was the TUI Air Cruiser consolidator received?
R Positive, we still have a long way to go to adapt the tool to the specific needs of our market, but it is well received by our customers.
P. As a tour operator headquartered in Germany, will your tourists be coming to Spain in the coming months despite the uncertainty that still exists?
R I represent TUI’s broadcasting activity in Spain and I do not manage the contact details of my colleagues, but according to what they tell us and the Group’s communications, expectations are positive and a good season is expected in Spain.
P. It is clear that digitization will mark the present and the future of the sector. What is TUI’s commitment in this regard?
R Clear and determined in this regard. We took advantage of the pandemic to accelerate several projects, among which the switch to a new backoffice system to which we recently migrated stands out. We continue to improve our b2b booking platform, which means that we currently have more than 500 programs bookable online and in a few weeks we have already reached 40% of our sales via the web. We will focus on the next ones to draw more agencies’ attention to the tool.
For all this and to continue our projects, we have expanded our human team with more specialists in the technological field and an Agile organization.
P. What forecasts do you process for the whole year? Will the recovery be consolidated?
We were confident of a recovery for this year in the Grand Voyage, but it may be delayed by a month. This will depend on the final impact of the conflict in Ukraine.