Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tour Operators

TUI Teams Up With National Geographic to Expand Small-Group Day Tours

7 months ago

European tour operator TUI’s tours and activities division, TUI Musement, has expanded its collaboration with National Geographic Expeditions, launching 40 new NatGeo Day Tours. 

Previously only available as part of a cruise itinerary package, travelers can now independently book a mix of one-day and half-day itineraries. According to a partnership update released by TUI, these NatGeo tours specialize in beach and city experiences in destinations like Barcelona, Cancun, Crete, Paphos, New York, Naples, and Tenerife.

The tours, led by National Geographic-trained guides, are conducted in small groups of about 8 to 15 people and follow the TUI groups’ Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, it said.

NatGeo tours include exploring Miró’s diverse artworks and creations in Barcelona, Spain, guided by architectural and art restoration specialists in the Homage to Miró experience. Another example is embarking on coral reef conservation with marine biologists and oceanographers in Cancun, Mexicoas part of the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in the Unveiling the Importance of Reef Restoration tour.      

An exclusive and educational sailing and snorkeling NatGeo tour to identify bleached corals and understand reef restoration and sustainable marine practices. Source: TUI Musement.

Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, previously shared TUI’s tours and activities strategy as a key growth sector with Skift. He noted that city destination experiences offered as shore excursions notably increased along with the group’s cruise sector revival, seeing a 69% year-on-year growth for TUI’s cruise products between April and June this year, compared to the same period in 2022.

The booking of TUI Collections in city destinations has seen a 90% increase year-on-year. From October 2022 to September 2023, TUI Musement facilitated over 1 million direct bookings, added Ulwahn.

“National Geographic Day Tours are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These are carefully crafted tours that tell stories of their destinations, honoring the National Geographic legacy and providing top quality, authentic, local experiences,” said Ulwahn.

Ideas

IDEAS: TUI to Offer British Sign Language Interpretation for Customers

9 months ago

TUI has announced a partnership with SignLive to provide customers with the option to have their conversations with the firm interpreted into British Sign Language (BSL).

Credit: SHVETS production

In order to use the service customers will need to sign up for free to SignLive, at which point they will be able to call TUI via its online directory. Customers will then be paired with the TUI Accessibility Team and a SignLive interpreter, who will interpret the conversation in real time.

“At TUI we want to make traveling with us as easy as possible for everyone. SignLive has come to us with an amazing solution for our customers who use British Sign Language (BSL). This service means that these customers can have conversations with our team to ensure they book the perfect holiday for them and get any additional support they might need,” said Sue Bradley, director of customer experience, at TUI.

“Customers can speak to our contact center team about new or existing bookings all by signing up to SignLive for free for support with hotel information, navigating airports or booking accessible transfers in resort.”

The service is now live, and the video has been released to explain how the service works:


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Tour Operators

TUI Relaunches First Choice Travel Brand

9 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 Adds Juniper Travel as New Experiences Distribution Partner

10 months ago

TUI, one of Europe’s leading tour operator groups, has extended its tours and activities distribution through Juniper Travel Technology.

Juniper, a travel tech company offering travel booking and management solutions, will integrate TUI’s portfolio of 88,000 excursions, activities, and attraction tickets in 100 countries, making it available for its clients of 270 travel and tourism companies.

The integration with Juniper Travel will “reach new customers based on their needs through seamless integration”, said Nishank Gopalkrishnan, chief business officer of TUI Musement. It expands TUI’s business to business strategy, both with companies in TUI’s established source markets such as the United Kingdom and Germany, and also with Juniper partners in southern Europe and LATAM as new markets for TUI.

TUI Musement reported a 33% increase in sales in the group’s third-quarter financial results. In 2022, TUI sold over seven million experiences.

Juan Mateos, Juniper Travel general manager, said its clients would have “frictionless access” to TUI’s experiences, initially available as a standalone catalog. In the future, it will be part of Juniper’s packaging and call center modules.

Hotels

TUI Expands Branded Hotel Portfolio in Zanzibar

10 months ago

The TUI Group has kickstarted investment via its hotel fund, launched last year with Luxembourg-based Hansainvest, to acquire the 5-star “Emerald Zanzibar Resort & Spa” on Zanzibar in Tanzania.

TUI will take over the running of the hotel and all existing bookings at the beginning of 2024, bringing its branded hospitality offering in the East African country to four hotels.

The acquisition was the first investment made by the fund, according to Peter Krueger, group head for strategy and merger & acquisitions, who stated that TUI is set to add more hotels.

“The next concrete investment opportunities are already being pursued,” Krueger said, “The fund also intends to acquire a hotel property from TUI’s portfolio. This is currently operated by a TUI hotel brand and will continue to be run as such in the future by means of a management contract.”

TUI sees its hotel division as a key growth driver, having seen positive results over several quarters, with underlying earnings before interest and taxes for the last four quarters exceeding pre-Covid 2019 performance.

The company is set to release its third-quarter results on Wednesday, 9 August.

Tour Operators

TUI’s Musement Doubles Experiences Bookings and Plans Expansion

1 year 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.

Tour Operators

TUI Raising $1.9 Billion to Settle Corona State Aid Debt

1 year ago

TUI is closer to settling the substantial financial aid it received from German authorities during the pandemic. 

TUI chief financial officer Mathias Kiep said the company made an important step back to profitability by launching its intended $1.9 billion capital raise in a LinkedIn post on Friday, 24 March.

“On the back of our strong operational recovery and following an intense journey of preparation — most recently our AGM in February and the 10:1 reverse stock split thereafter. With the proceeds of the capital increase, we intend to repay the Corona state aid in full.” 

Kiep initially announced the raise plans during the company’s 2023 first quarter interim results, stating it would take place under the right market conditions after the company’s Economic Stabilization Fund debt had been recalculated from some $775 million to just short of $1 billion.    

Germany’s Economic Stabilization Fund was instrumental in ensuring the survival of German-based travel companies, including Lufthansa, with its initial lifeline stoking claims of an unfair advantage. It saw a stricter framework applied to the financial aid received by TUI.

The airline announced towards the end of 2022 that it was set to repay the balance of its state-owned debt.

Tour Operators

A New CIO Is Latest C-Suite Change at TUI

1 year ago

Top-level leadership changes at Tour operator TUI continue as the German-headquartered firm confirmed the appointed a new Chief Information Officer, Pieter Jordaan

Jordaan, a South African, has been with the company for eight years and has worked on the modernization of TUI’s IT infrastructure and cloud strategy. 

Jordaan’s role became effective January 1. He will report directly to new Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Ebel who assumed responsibility on October 1 after being named to the role in June. Ebel was named after previous chief executive Friedrich Joussen announced his departure after two decades at TUI, stating the time was right for leadership change at the company.

Tags: tui group

Tour Operators

TUI Group’s $4 Billion Turnaround

2 years ago

Tour operator TUI has boosted its 2022 first-half revenue by $4 billion.

Posting its 2022 first-half results on Wednesday, which cover the period from Oct. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, the company said group revenue was $4.75 billion — an increase of $4 billion compared to the same six months in the previous year.

Its second-quarter revenue of $2.22 billion was also an “improvement” on the $0.2 billion revenue posted in the same quarter in 2021.

Tui said the turnaround reflected a “normalized pre-pandemic travel environment” with March achieving the highest monthly revenue within the quarter as operations ramped up after Omicron dented travel in January and February.

Its second quarter capacity also reached 71 percent of the same quarter in 2019. In March this year, operated capacity was at 75 percent. Some 1.9 million customers departed in the second quarter — an increase of 1.7 million customers versus the prior year.

However, its second quarter underlying EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) loss was $348.75, compared to $669.17 million in the 2021 second quarter.

Looking ahead, the UK market is its most advanced booked, with bookings up 11 percent versus Summer 2019.

And like NCL, its full fleet of cruise ships has returned, with the three brands are back in operation. However, compared to its other segments, sailings recovery is expected to be slower with short-term bookings continuing to represent a large share of overall bookings.

Its Musement division delivered 681,000 excursions, activities and tours in the second quarter, which TUI said reflected the more open travel environment and the successful integration of the company.