Youtravel.com moves upmarket

2007-10-08

Youtravel.com will ‘specifically target’ the higher end of the market in 2008, the VC-backed bedbank said Monday. As a result of travel agent and consumer feedback over the summer, the company has already withdrawn 42 properties that were ‘not meeting its high standards’, with the result that more than 85% of the hotels it sells are now four- or five-star.Paul Riches, youtravel.com sales and marketing director, said: ‘The accommodation-only sector is a very competitive one and we want to ensure that we’re leading the way in terms of great value prices and good quality hotels. ‘As we go into our second year we want to cement our position in the marketplace by contracting more exclusive properties.’The company was launched in October 2006 by John Kent with backing from Barclays Ventures.Riches said that while youtravel.com was ‘not in a position to give specifics’ on its financials, ‘we are where we need to be’. It is on course to meet its first year target of ?40m turnover, growing to ?120m in three years.‘We’re aiming for further growth in 2008 of course but will be specifically targeting the higher end of the market,’ he added. ‘We will be scaling back in some areas that are unprofitable or troublesome. We want to grow the business in a profitable and sensible manner.’Youtravel.com is already seeing its high-end properties booking up for spring and summer 2008, Riches said.‘The idea that accommodation-only providers are only in the lates market is a fallacy. We missed out on much of this market last year as we launched at the end of October so to see these bookings coming in already is extremely promising. People are willing to pay in advance to secure the room they want in the specific hotel they want.’The company is also hoping to capture a bigger share of the family market in its second year of trading. ‘These are the parties that book early, especially for the school holidays, and we didn’t get our full slice of this market as we were still establishing ourselves in January of this year,’ Riches explained.‘Couples book later and as such around 70% of our bookings in our first year of trading are from this sector; we’re hoping to get a 50:50 balance between couples and families in 2008.’Youtravel.com currently features more than 2,900 hotels in Europe, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Florida, Dubai and the Caribbean. It highlighted Bulgaria as a new addition for 2008.