Comment: There's nothing silly about the high street

Comment: There's nothing silly about the high street

August is traditionally the height of the media ‘silly season’ when newspapers report the kind of nonsense that wouldn’t see the light of day at other times.

The civil war in Syria and violence in Egypt has kept real news to the forefront this year, although the impact of those events on the UK travel sector appears limited so far. Thankfully, that has allowed Travel Weekly to report instead on developments which suggest the continuing resilience of traditional retailing.

On the one hand, the past week saw a significant piece of consolidation in the online travel sector when Expedia agreed to operate the US and Canadian websites of parent Travelocity, which is owned by Sabre.

On the other, we report Kuoni plans to open more concessions in John Lewis stores on the high street and is “hopeful of future opportunities with John Lewis sister company Waitrose”.

Expedia is the world’s largest online travel agency and its tie‑up with Travelocity represents a typical piece of consolidation in a maturing market – not the kind of story usually associated with the digital world of start-ups and innovation. The deal follows lastminute’s sale of Holiday Autos and may herald further consolidation as lastminute takes up Expedia deals.

Back on the high street, Kuoni UK managing director Derek Jones says: “Our stores are built on how to encourage people-to-people interaction ... We’re not that interested in technology.”

Jones is no Luddite. The point is Kuoni recognises the abiding value of face-to-face contact. Life is not all about clicks.


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