Travellanda eyes 15pc growth in region

Travellanda, the award-winning and fastest-growing wholesale travel company in the UK, recently made three new sales and business development managers to help it expand into India, the Middle East and Spanish-speaking markets.

As a leading B2B accommodation wholesaler, Travellanda is one of the travel industry’s fastest growing companies. It has grown to over 40 staff and a turnover exceeding £60 million in less than eight years. Using the Travellanda XML Connectivity, Online Reservation System or White Label solution, travel agencies, tour operators, B2B online systems and OTA’s have access to a wide range of hotels and apartments from self-catering and one-star accommodation to deluxe five-star properties.

We spoke to Meltem Balkan, who has been hired to oversee the Middle East, UK and Ireland markets, and joins from Tripedia in Istanbul, where she was CMO.

“I am happy to announce that Travellanda’s hotel inventory has reached almost 400,000 hotels,” Balkan tells TTN in an exclusive interview. “Recently, we have added transfers and activities product to our portfolio as well. The activities span 678 destinations in 132 countries and we have 18,000 activities in these destinations.”

The Middle East represents 15 per cent of Travellanda’s total business and, not surprisingly, half of these bookings are for Dubai hotels. “In fact, Dubai is our overall top city for six months of the year, from October till March and still within the top 10 for the rest of the year. Other top destinations within the region are Abu Dhabi, Mecca, Medina, Doha, Beirut, Bahrain, Kuwait and Muscat,” she tells us.

“We do 50,000+ room nights per year and the average stay is four days. The total room nights are increasing year on year.”

Travellanda works with DMC suppliers such as Alpha Rooms and Darina Holidays in the UAE but also has another 50+ suppliers, DMCs and global suppliers, such as Agoda, Travco and Expedia, who they rely on for bookings in the Middle East. 

Travellanda’s strategy is to continue growing with its current suppliers; to add more DMCs in the area and to go directly to chains and hotels, Balkan tells us. “There are many hotels and chains that are already approaching Travellanda to work directly with us. Direct contracting will be our main strategy with the supplier side globally and including the Middle East.”

Over the last year, Travellanda clients booked over 1,500 unique hotels in the Middle East and 500 of them were in Dubai. “More than 80 per cent of what our clients book in the Middle East are four and five-star hotels. Some of our top Hotels in Dubai are Atlantis The Palm, Jumeirah Beach Hotel,  Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Conrad Dubai and Burj al Arab. In Abu Dhabi, we are currently doing very well with The St. Regis and in Makkah, The Movenpick.”

Interestingly, around 40 per cent of Travellanda’s total business to the Middle East is intra-regional – mainly from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The UK & Ireland represent 15 per cent and the remaining 45 per cent is very well spread across the rest of the world.

“With our strategy and through new clients and by growing existing ones; we are expecting a minimum of 15 per cent growth year-on-year.

“We have over 1,700 travel agencies, tour operators and partners from the Middle East registered in our system. They are already benefiting from our rates and technology - among them are some very big players such Seera Group and more. With many of the big suppliers we have cross-XML partnerships and this model provides us with extensive database.

“We are focusing on marketing our XML technology where our agencies have access to our inventory with XML and integrate on their website. We are working with IT platforms all around the world to make this integration easy, affordable, manageable and accessible for all agencies.

“We also offer a simple to use interface system for agents who do not want to invest in technology at this present time,” says Balkan.