Hotelbeds’ GTA acquisition confirms the consolidation phase in the wholesale sector

Last year’s Travel & Tourism industry was rich in deals, which also led to a consolidation phase of the big Chinese players in the Asian and European market.
This M&As period influenced several sectors of the industry, in particular the B2C sector. The Chinese colossus Ctrip, which provides the booking of tourism services, was one of the most important players, especially after its acquisition of the Scottish metasearch Skyscanner. The acquisition happened on last November, for a value of more than 1,5 billion euros. Skyscanner was only the last of the Ctrip’s deals, following its consolidation in the Chinese OTA Elong, in the Indian Makemytrip, in the American Ctour Holiday, Tours for Fun, Universal Vision and L&L Travel, and the integration of the OTA Qunar.

The Skyscanner acquisition confirmed the interest of the Chinese industry players towards the European market. In fact, even the hotel sector registered a growing interest from these operators which, according to Deloitte, dominated the real estate investment market of this sector in 2016 and will continue in 2017. Further important alliances came as a result of the Marriott – Starwood deal and in the one between Lufthansa and Air China.
Recently, USA Priceline Group acquired the European metasearch Momondo for 505 million euros circa. This operation allowed Priceline to enhance its intermediation power in the European market.

A new consolidation phase is taking place also among the big players which work in the B2B sector and intermediate transport, accommodation and activity services. The most interesting example is given by the acquisition of the global travel distributor GTA, owned by the Swiss group Kuoni, by Hotelbeds Group, the giant which provides tourism services. Hotelbeds has its headquarter in Palma de Mallorca, in Spain, and is particularly active with its B2B bedbank selling, and present in more than 185 Countries. In February, Hotelbeds announced its future acquisition of the American Tourico Holidays, in-destination activities and integrated tourist services provider.

At Twissen we observed that the affirming scenario among the industry players is the “Mega Online Travel Retailers” one, namely the consolidation of the business models of OTAs and metasearches and the growth of the online promotion. The Eastern shift is now facing the Western M&A market recover, both in B2C and B2B intermediation sectors.