Cosmos to run Somewhere2stay as separate business

COSMOS is to run its accommodation-only website as a separate ancillaries business to allow for rapid growth following a management shake-up.

Cosmos commercial director Stuart Jackson has been made managing director of Somewhere2stay.

The site will add transfers by Christmas, and car hire, airport lounges and attractions within six months. Cities and ski product will feature in future.

Jackson said: “We will offer a shopping basket which will allow agents to buy all the different components. Dynamic packaging is a huge growth market. Somewhere2stay is profitable in its own right and had to come out of Cosmos’ infrastructure for us to give it the focus it needs.”

There are longer term plans to launch the site in Spain and Portugal, he added.

Somewhere2stay’s sales make up £20 million-£40 million of an estimated £300 million-£350 million turnover in the accommodation-only sector.

Meanwhile, a merged board for Cosmos’ mainstream tour operating and coach businesses has been created by new Cosmos managing director Paul Joliffe. It follows managing director Terry Williamson’s decision to leave.

Hugh Morgan, promoted to overseas and product director on the new board, said there were obvious synergies of working together. He added: “It is not a cost-cutting exercise.”

He denied the change signalled decreasing package holiday sales through Cosmos Holidays due to more product being sold as dynamic packages. “The operator is still pivotal, the only difference is how we present holidays to the trade. We have to cover all options – there are certain areas low-cost airlines still don’t go to.”

As well as Morgan, who retains responsibility for UK and overseas operations, the board comprises: Michael Vinales, now aviation director as well as flight-only operator Avro managing director; Andy Washington, whose remit as sales director has been expanded to include call centres; Trevor Inch, now marketing and distribution director; Richard Mintern, now group information officer covering IT support; and finance director Richard Francis.

Meanwhile, Cosmos admitted its short-haul winter sun brochures for 2007/08 are unlikely to feature any prices for the first time.

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