Major Travel insists deal with InteleTravel is a win for all agents

Major Travel bought by InteleTravel
By Linsey McNeill
23/05/2024
Home » Major Travel insists deal with InteleTravel is a win for all agents

News that homeworking group InteleTravel has bought 60% of Major Travel has received a mixed response from independent agents, with a few expressing concerns that the tailor-made tour operator will be part-owned by a rival consortium.

But Major Travel is seeking to reassure the trade that all agents selling its products will benefit from InteleTravel taking a stake in the business.

Director of Strategy Abbas Datoo said the investment from the US-based homeworking giant, which has a global turnover of more than $£2 billion, will give it increased purchasing power around the world, allowing it to offer UK agents better prices.

It will also enable Major, a trade-only business, to expand into new markets, increasing its choice of product and allowing independent agents to compete with direct-sell operators.

As part of the InteleTravel deal, Major will launch in late 2025 in the US, where the bulk of InteleTravel’s global network of 60,000 agents are based. Prior to signing the deal with Intele, it was already planning to launch in Ireland, and will do so by the end of this year.

 “It is the US Intele business that will really drive our buying power,” said Abbas. “As an example, the UK sends 430,000 passengers to South Africa annually and the USA/Canada sends 444,000 there. 

“Another example is Dubai where the UK sent 555,000 passengers in 2023 and the USA/Canada sent 472,000. By just driving business from the North American Intele agents to the South Africa and the UAE, you can appreciate the buying power we will have in those destinations.”

“Major Travel’s product will be integrated into InteleTravel’s portal very soon and this will be open to all Intele agents in North America, so the increase is going to be immediate and significant. 

“This buying power will allow us to negotiate some amazing deals with suppliers. In fact, it will be a condition of any agreement we make with preferred hotels and suppliers that the rate we have must allow a travel agent to be as competitive as any direct-sell operator without the agent having to sacrifice a penny in commission. “ 

Abbas said Major will also be looking to negotiate exclusive deals with hotels and suppliers across the world that will allow UK travel agents to earn higher margins for the same product than their direct-sell competitors. 

“Instead of the standard commission on a holiday to somewhere like the Maldives, our exclusive deals will allow agents to make more margin whilst still remaining competitive against direct-sell operators,” he said.

“For the first time ever, we will be hearing direct-sell operators saying they cannot compete with a travel agent rather than the other way around!”

InteleTravel President James Ferrara with Major Travel Managing Director Qasim Gulamhusein

Will InteleTravel agents get preferential rates with Major?

Major Travel’s existing shareholders, who have retained 40% of the company, will keep operational control, said Abbas.

“Major Travel will remain steadfastly independent,” he added. “This has been emphatically stated by both James Ferrara, President of Intele Travel and Qasim Gulamhusein, Managing Director and shareholder of Major Travel. 

“Whilst the group holding company will effectively double dip by enjoying profits from both Major and Intele Travel, Major Travel will not have a preferred status with Intele and Intele will not have a preferred status with Major,” said Abbas.

“Everything we do will be about helping travel agents across the board and not just Intele.”

He pointed out that InteleTravel works with numerous hotel, flight and cruise suppliers, adding that Major ‘will be one more supplier competing in their system’. 

“As any other trade supplier could be also integrated into Intele so this is not a special arrangement, The only benefit for us is that Intele will now try and expedite our integration.

“In the same way that we will not get any special treatment from Intele, we will not be giving them any special treatment either. All our agents will be treated equally as would be expected from an operationally independent business. 

“No data will be shared with Intele Travel, no special commission or incentives will be given and everything will operate at an arm’s length.”

While Major will leverage InteleTravel’s global size and buying power, Intele won’t be involved in any of its business operations, he said.

“Intele head office in New York wants to see us grow into the leading trade operator in the UK and they know that this will only happen if we remain completely independent. James Ferrera has repeated this many times. 

“Travel agencies and home working groups have nothing to fear and everything to be excited about. Our operational independence will reign supreme and Qasim will not allow anything to compromise this.”

While Abbas said that Major – along with many other operators – earns ‘millions’ from Intele in the UK, it believes future growth through Intele will be fuelled by their agents in the US. “Intele is expecting its UK turnover to be about £150m this year, but its global turnover is $2bn.

“InteleTravel believes that Major Travel has a big opportunity to exploit in North America with our growing strength in product across the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. 

“The view is that we could take the US by storm by offering travel agents there a truly bespoke tailor made tour operator product across EMEA and Asia. 

“In the US, there is a much bigger focus on travel domestic travel and travel to South America, Canada and the Caribbean. Our specialism in a different part of the world will put us at a unique advantage.”

What new products will Major offer in the UK?

“North America, Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf and Africa are all doing very well for us and we will continue to grow volumes to these regions,” said Abbas.

“We also do reasonably well with South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand but we want to see this segment of the business grow significantly over the next few years and we will therefore have multiple dedicated product staff for these regions. 

“We are not currently very strong in the Indian sub continent and north and central Asia and this is something that we want to urgently address. 

“Finally, whilst we do a lot of Europe, this tends to mainly be single/twin centre holidays and city breaks which agents generally book on our Major Go booking platform. 

“With our planned US expansion, we will need to build a much more involved, tailormade, multi-destination offering in Europe similar to what we offer with our long-haul destinations. This will benefit UK agents who specialise in multi centre itineraries across Europe.”

InteleTravel UK & Ireland Managing Director Tricia Handley-Hughes who said: “The advantage for us at Intele is that we can use the expanded product. It’s a win-win for all. People should read it in a positive way. Our agents are really positive.”

Major is also looking to significantly expand its cruise business in the UK by using InteleTravel’s relationship with lines in the US to offer agents here significantly better rates.

“InteleTravel in the US is a goliath of the cruise sector,” he said. “We hope to be able leverage this with direct connections from cruise lines into our platform allowing agents to seamlessly build fly, cruise, stay and tour itineraries for their clients.”

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