Minoan Group to join Hays Travel Independence Group as expansion continues

Minoan Group to join Hays Travel Independence Group as expansion continues

The Minoan Group is to join Hays Travel Independence Group as it continues to pursue a rapid expansion plan.

The Scottish travel group will join on April 1, making it one of the top three largest members of Hays Independence Group.

Minoan, which reported revenues of £37 million and operating profits of around £400,000 for its travel business for the year to October 31, 2012, owns King World Travel, Stewart Travel, Semple Travel, and Classic Travel,  and is currently installing travel kiosks in more than 9,000 sub post offices under its Postcard Travel brand.

Minoan chief executive Duncan Wilson said the group chose Hays because it was a Civil Aviation Authority Accredited Body, licensed to sell dynamic packages under the new Flight-Plus regime.

“Following the changes to the Atol legislation we have decided to go down the trust fund route, which you can do yourself or through an authorised body. I got the impression this is the preferred route and makes it simpler for the CAA to deal with,” he said.

The move to the Independence Group would also lift the administrative burden of running a variety of different businesses, he said.

From April 1, all its businesses will move to one front and back-office IT system, iSell, developed by Traveltek.

Wilson said there was also the potential for “collaborative projects” with John Hays, managing director and founder of Hays Travel.

He added: “This is a good partnership. Operationally it will give us greater efficiencies and we want to focus on that rather than back-office bureaucracy.”

Hays admitted having the Minoan Group as a member was a "coup" for its Independence Group. "It's really nice to have such a well-respected company with such a well-respected senior management team. It's a meeting of minds and a cultural fit," he said.

Minoan is currently trialling interactive, touchscreen computer kiosks in 50 sub post offices for three months as part of a ten year deal with the National Federation of SubPostmasters.

The system allows customers to book online, request information by email or receive a call from the call centre to discuss a holiday.

Commission earned on bookings will be shared between Minoan and the sub post office. Kiosk screens are updated daily via the group’s head office call centre to offer deals relevant to the local markets.

Wilson said the company was currently gauging customer feedback but said the opportunity to sell through sub post offices was “enormous”, particularly in rural areas where post offices have come under threat of closure.  “This will help sub post offices remain viable,” he added.

The group is also continuing to actively look at further acquisitions with the broad aim of doubling the size of its business each year “for the next couple of years”.

Meanwhile, an appeal into the Greek government’s decision to award fast track status to Minoan’s Crete Project to build hotels on a 6,000 acre site will be heard on April 5. Wilson hinted there were other “similar opportunities” available in Greece.

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