Online travel company Travelocity Europe announced today that it entered the French market on 18 March with the acquisition of Nice-based VFinances Group.
With this acquisition Travelocity Europe is taking important new strategic steps. Through Boomerang Voyages, a tour operator with a 20-year history and a good reputation in the French travel industry, Travelocity will gain important supplier relationships and content creation capabilities. It will also enable Travelocity Europe to distribute its products to the travel industry under the Boomerang Voyages brand, which includes a wide range of added-value package holidays, from short city-breaks in niche markets to extended stays around the world.
In terms of retail sales in France, Travelocity Europe’s multi-channel strategy will include an online booking site, stores and a call centre.
The network of 10 stores, located in major French metropolitan areas, will provide a strong point of differentiation from Travelocity Europe’s online competitors. The stores and call centre will also be an important asset for future marketing developments in France.
The company expects to launch its French website later this year. This will give the country’s consumers access to a full range of pre-packaged and dynamically packaged holidays, as well as hotel, air and car offerings. The company’s brand strategy is currently under development.
The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed but Travelocity Europe’s intention is to retain all 85 staff currently working for the VFinances Group. Its French headquarters will remain in Nice with secondary headquarters in Paris. Jeffrey Lavender, currently senior vice-president of Travelocity Europe, will become managing director of the French businesses.
Dirk Hauke, CEO of Travelocity Europe, said the acquisition of VFinances would further extend the presence of Travelocity in Europe. “A presence in France has been a strategic objective for Travelocity Europe for quite some time and this acquisition provides an additional base for us to develop and grow our geographical presence across Europe.”
Travelocity Europe is currently present in five markets across Europe, under the brands Travelocity.co.uk in the United Kingdom, Flug.de and Travelocity Overland in Germany, and Resfeber in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. France is the second European market where Travelocity will have a physical as well as an online presence. Its Travel Overland brand in Germany has 16 stores.
Hauke said a multi-channel approach was a deliberate growth strategy. He said Travelocity was strengthening its position in Europe by broadening not only its distribution channels, but also its content.
As Jeffrey Lavender explained: “The acquisition of VFinances by Travelocity Europe is a perfect mix of the assets of our companies. Travelocity is bringing its expertise in online travel, its world-class technology and the strength of its global presence. VFinances, with its combination of excellent tour operator content, production skill and multi-channel retailing capacity, provides a solid foundation on which we will grow.”
“We are using a wide range of sales channels in order to meet the evolving needs and expectations of our customers. Travellers in France will be able to purchase travel with us through any channel.”
Laurent Villa, founder of VFinances, said: “I’m delighted with the fusion with Travelocity Europe. It is a major, logical next step for VFinances after two years of intense restructuring and significant sales growth. I truly believe the merger will provide not only growth opportunities for staff but also a better offering for our customers.”
The acquisition is subject to ratification by the board of Otto, OFT’s parent company, which is currently pending.