Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tour Operators

TUI Opens New Digital Hub in Portugal

5 months ago


TUI Group has consolidated its digital activities in Portugal by opening a new tech center in Porto.

Europe’s largest holiday package tour operator continues to lean into an ambitious digital transformation, with the center set to focus on developing mobile apps, payment systems, and using artificial intelligence across both TUI’s customer-facing and internal services.

In 2017, TUI partnered with IT service provider COCUS to create a Software Development Hub in Portugal. After five years of collaboration, they recently agreed to integrate this software hub into TUI’s organization as a ‘Digital Hub.’

TUI already has tech teams in Poland and India, with the new Porto center adding 150 more tech specialists to its workforce, with plans to grow the Porto team to 200 by the end of 2024.

Portugal is a popular destination for TUI travelers, according to TUI’s CEO, Sebastian Ebel, who said the development “strengthens its position in the country.” Ebel has laid out his intent for TUI’s app to become a one-stop shop for travel.

In a previous interview with Skift, Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, the group’s tours and activities division, commented on the company’s digital transformation, stating,” We were offline before. Now we are transforming the company, and we really want to compete with the other OTA players in the space when it comes to technology.”

Tour Operators

TUI Relaunches First Choice Travel Brand

6 months ago

TUI-owned FirstChoice.co.uk has relaunched as a new travel and experiences booking platform as the brand looks to strengthen its position with the flexible, independent traveler.

First Choice, originally well-known for its package holidays, now offers an array of travel options tailored around the needs and unique points of interest of today’s travelers, according to TUI UK and Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham.

Offering close to 200 destinations in over 60 countries, travelers can choose from various accommodation types and price points, from guesthouses and hostels to 5* luxury hotels and resorts. 

Additionally, travelers can enhance their trips with extras like cooking classes in Crete or paddleboarding in Majorca. There is also a weather guarantee for specific destinations through a partnership with Sensible Weather.

“New destinations and hotels will be picked based on what’s trending, the latest industry insider knowledge, and where budgets stretch furthest,” said Flintham, “First Choice has been helping holidaymakers choose their perfect trips for nearly 30 years, first on the high street and later as part of the TUI Group. But in 2023, travelers’ needs are changing, and so is First Choice.”

First Choice managing director Bart Quinton Smith added, “People will be able to plan their holidays around their interests or our destinations. Go via plane, or thanks to our partnership with Byway, by train. Dine in or dine out. Add an experience, upgrade, or save some cash. It’s up to our travelers to decide what makes a choice perfect.”

Tour Operators

TUI’s Musement Doubles Experiences Bookings and Plans Expansion

10 months ago

TUI Musement continues to carve its place in the growth flywheel of parent company TUI Group, with the launch of its digital TUI experiences platforms to take the brand beyond Europe and into the world.

Sebastian Ebel, chairman and CEO of TUI Group, said TUI’s activities segment continues to support the group strategy of bringing new customers into the TUI ecosystem during an earnings call on Wednesday. Musement, which saw +185 percent year-on-year growth for business-to-customer experiences sold in quarter two of 2023, will continue to build its own unique experiences across 100 key cities.

Ebel outlined how its digital platform rollout would also support its TUI Blue asset-light growth, with the ongoing development of its own product.

TUI’s acquisition into Musement saw great investment in Milan, Spain and France, but the company would now be rolling out products for Germany, England, and the Far East, for example.

“We are targeting a hundred key cities at the moment in the world so that you don’t only get the best offers in Majorca but also when you are in Berlin,” said Ebel. “We are building more and more of our own products because we can sell as a merchant, but it’s more attractive if we produce the products on our own or make them unique through special relationships and to build further the Tui Collection.”

TUI’s tours and activities reported a near doubling in the number of excursions and activities booked during the second quarter ending March 31, with 1.3 million experiences sold and an estimated 0.7 million more than in the prior-year quarter.

Musement has reduced its underlying earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) loss to -$13.9 million in the period under review, compared to -$19.92 million in the prior year. TUI Musement also benefited from increased guest transfers, with a total of 3.4 million transfers in destinations. You can read more about TUI’s focus on dynamic packaging and second-quarter earnings here.