Hotelbeds eyes Asian expansion following GTA acquisition

Carlos Munoz, bedbank managing director for Hotelbeds
Carlos Munoz, bedbank managing director for Hotelbeds

Hotelbeds Group is making a strategic push into the Asian market following its recent acquisitions of Tourico Holidays and GTA, the company’s bedbank managing director, Carlos Muñoz, has told Travel Daily.

Speaking at the company’s inaugural MarketHub Asia event, which is taking place at the Avani Riverside Hotel in Bangkok this week, Muñoz said that the decision to acquire GTA and bring its industry conference to the region “absolutely” represents a strategic push into the Asian market.

“We started in Asia in 2007 at the time we acquired Pacific World. But now is the right time [to expand],” he said in a face-to-face interview. “We have a significant presence [in Asia] and GTA is also strong, so combining the two will make us a better player. We will convert this into more product, better solutions and better service for our customers.”

He added that GTA would “add a significant portfolio of products, of customers, and human capital – knowledge of the [Asian] region,” to the Hotelbeds business.

The GTA acquisition marked the second in a quick-fire double for Hotelbeds, which had earlier struck a deal to buy US-based wholesaler Tourico Holidays. And Muñoz said that the resulting entity would “combine the best of all three companies: the best technology, the best distribution capabilities, the best contracting, in one single business”. “This is the final goal,” he stated.

Munoz addresses delegates at the inaugural MarketHub Asia event in Bangkok
Munoz addresses delegates at the inaugural MarketHub Asia event in Bangkok

With the two deals being so fresh, Muñoz admitted that the structure of the final combined company – including branding and office network – is yet to be decided.

“We are already working on the design. This will take the best practices from each and combine these into a single company,” he said. “[In terms of] offices… we need to review the set-up, what GTA and Tourico have, and what should be our future footprint.”

But new employment opportunities seem certain to arise in Asia, as the business will “definitely” need more manpower, according to the Muñoz. He also revealed that the company’s key geographical areas of focus in the region would be China, Southeast Asia and India.

And while the last few months have marked the start of a rapid scaling up of Hotelbeds Group’s business, further growth appears to be on the cards. When asked by Travel Daily if his company would pursue further acquisitions in future, Muñoz replied: “absolutely”.

“In the future we may look to other opportunities. We’ll always be in the market for this. Which segments we don’t know; it may be in future that we look at other segments, more like bolt-on acquisitions related to technology or distribution,” he revealed.

Hotelbeds was purchased by two private equity companies – Cinven and CPPIB – from TUI for US$1.3 billion in 2016.

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