Clearly, this doesn’t shed any light on the circumstances surrounding Duckworth’s departure. One M&A player I spoke with speculated that his ouster probably was related to the company’s poor financial performance.“A quick look at their stock price, leverage and financial performance is a pretty good indicator of why the CEO was toasted,” the source said. “They over paid by $100 million to $200 million for the Primedia properties, have not achieved the expected synergies with a distributor and are struggling with the magazines in the current market.”In August 2007 when Source acquired Primedia Enthusiast Media in a stock purchase of approximately $1.2 billion, its stock was trading upwards of $4 per share. By November, prices fell to $2.01 per share. (A year earlier, in August 2006, stock was trading well above $10 per share.)The day Source Interlink named Mays CEO (October 23), the company’s stock price fell to a 52-week low of $0.335 per share. Through morning trading Tuesday, Source’s stock price was $0.4177.“The stock was cut in its first six months of trading as a merged company. In the ensuing year, with the merger going poorly and the dreams of synergies never taking form, the stock has lost another 80 percent of its value,” another source said, indicating the company holds roughly $1.1 billion in debt. “That’s roughly a 90 percent devaluation since the merger.”In September, the company reported a net loss of $296.7 million for the six month period ending July 31, compared to a $4 million net income for the same period last year. Net revenue for the period was $1.1 billion, up from $909 million during the period last year. Late last month when distributor and enthusiast magazine publisher Source Interlink named Greg Mays chairman and CEO, the first question I had for the company was what happened to former chief executive Michael Duckworth [pictured].After several requests for comment, this is what the company’s vice president of investor relations sent over e-mail:Mr. May’s experience with the company, and his understanding of the channels it operates in, will add value to the management team as it seeks to gain greater efficiencies and uncover new opportunities. The company expects to deliver unparalleled value to its readers, retail partners, employees and investors.
About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 The unlikely alliance between agents, OTAs as Expedia TAAP reaches 15,000 mark in Canada << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, May 31, 2017 Kathryn Folliott Posted by This article originally ran in the May 25th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. Canadian travel agents can subscribe for free to receive the magazine weekly here. TORONTO — Flashback to 1996: Travel agencies are still reeling from the first wave of airline commission caps a year earlier. Then Expedia and Booking.com arrive on the scene. More online travel agencies (OTAs) start coming out of the woodwork, and suddenly the bricks-and-mortar retail travel industry is staring down huge revenue losses from the commission caps (and then cuts) just as OTAs begin siphoning off ever-increasing numbers of clientele. Few thought travel agents could survive the one-two punch, and the vultures were out.And now? Just over 20 years later, the travel agents who survived (and later thrived) are earning commissions on everything from hotels to packages, car rentals and attractions from a most unlikely ally: the OTAs. Competition makes strange bedfellows and that’s as true in the travel industry as anywhere else.Aren’t OTAs the bad guys? Booking.com’s Managing Director, Americas, Todd Dunlap says he thinks “some of that stuff is a little overstated”. Booking.com is currently testing out its Booking.com for Travel Agents trade platform, with tools the company says will help agents make and manage bookings for clients. It says travel agents who join the platform will be eligible for similar partner benefits as all Booking.com affiliate partners. The company currently has some 12,500 affiliates.Aren’t OTAs the bad guys?Dunlap, who was at the opening of the Booking.com Toronto office last month, says Booking.com handles millions of contacts every year. Some of those are from business travellers and corporate travel agencies. “We discovered one in five of our bookers were booking for business. So we’re looking at optimizing and growing that side of the business.”And it’s not just travel agents booking corporate through OTAs, but leisure too. What about commissions? Dunlap wouldn’t reveal percentages at this stage but said Booking.com’s agent platform “will have tailored solutions for travel agents.” The OTA looks at the travel agent category as a strategic partnership, he added. “There’s power in selection. [Travel agents] have great access to conventional inventory. Now they may be looking for unconventional inventory because there’s a demand for that. If I’m a travel agent, I’m looking for inventory, and I’m looking for the best solutions for my clients.”Booking.com got its start in Amsterdam in 1996 and was sold to OTA behemoth The Priceline Group (parent company of Kayak.com and Priceline.com) for US$133 million in 2005. The site now claims 1.2 million active properties in 220 countries, and 1.2 million room nights booked every 24 hours.Luxury hotel Ciragan Palace in Istanbul won’t be found on Booking.comThe road to working with travel agencies is paved with good intentions but isn’t always smooth: in Turkey, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies this past spring succeeded in blocking Booking.com from offering Turkish hotels to Turkish consumers in a court case that cites “unjust competition against travel agencies.” Talks are now underway to find a solution that works for both sides.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesWhen Booking.com’s travel agent platform does launch, it will have strong competition from Expedia TAAP. Since arriving in Canada in 2010 Expedia TAAP (Travel Agent Affiliate Program) has seen year-over-year consistent growth, says Katrina Moseley, Travel Agent Distribution Manager, Expedia TAAP. Worldwide it has more than 70,000.Moseley says she gets good feedback from agents about Expedia TAAP’s on-time payments and the fact that commissions are based on gross booking volume versus net. Base commission rates range from 3 – 11% on hotels, to 3 – 5% for vacation packages including flight and hotel, to 6% on car rentals and 10% on activities and attractions. Commission rates go up for TAAP Preferred Partners.Agents who enroll in Expedia TAAP also get customer support via a dedicated TAAP team, she said. “Agents can visit the program as need. Agents do not need to book with Expedia TAAP exclusively… we’re a one-stop shop [and] offer competitive commissions on multiple lines of business.”TAAP hotel rates are the same rates as those seen on Expedia.comMoseley adds that since displayed TAAP hotel rates are the same rates as those seen on Expedia.com, “agents are not only potentially less at risk of losing customers who book their hotels through other sources, but are also are provided with the opportunity to further solidify their client relationships”.Expedia TAAP now counts about 15,000 active travel agents in the Canadian market. Niche Travel Group’s Faith Sproule, in Dartmouth, NS says she dips into the program as needed. “The hotel rates are often less than every wholesaler that I look at. Great hotels at great prices, transfers and day tours [although] it’s a sin that they messed with the 10% commission on hotels and started to tier the commission.”Asked if he’s seeing an increase in the number of agents making bookings on OTA agent platforms, Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door said that companies like Booking.com or Expedia TAAP/ Expedia Affiliate Network programs are getting more traction than 10 years ago for 3 simple reasons: price, availability and convenience. “They are huge hotel aggregators and they are starting to do things that traditional vendors of selling hotels cannot do. They have a lot of selection and they are paying commission. Some of the OTAs in Canada have hotel-only programs on their site and they are being back-ended by companies like Booking.com. It may surprise people in the industry to know what companies use these companies.”More news: Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesFlemming adds that many times a hotel is only being booked for an overnight, or pre / post a cruise or a quick getaway, “so the agent is not looking at the hotel as being the portion they will make money from. The majority of money will be made on the package/tour/cruise. Also sometimes the agent will do a hotel-only booking to simply help a good customer from a customer service perspective.”Should traditional wholesalers be taking notice and be concerned? It’s surprising to learn how many traditional wholesalers include pricing from Expedia or Booking.com in their pricing structure, he says. “The average agent may simply not know this. But the traditional wholesalers are paying attention and it is a concern.”Down the line, with more of these OTA agent platform bookings preferred supplier agreements could take a hit, although Friisdahl says he believes there is room for everyone. “Every single supplier (almost) sells directly to the end user, either through their wholesale brand directly to the consumer or through an agency name to the consumer. Some ITC suppliers do both. So the world is changing … we must go where we find the best commission and pricing to make sure we retain a customer.” Share Tags: OTAs, Trend Watch
SEATTLE — Holland America Line’s newest 2,666-guest Pinnacle-Class ship will have eight more staterooms than its sister ship, a redesigned Pinnacle Suite – the largest on the ship – as well as reconfigured Family Staterooms.Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam is set to debut in December 2018. While much of the ship’s design will be similar to sister ship Koningsdam, the first Pinnacle Class ship, Nieuw Statendam will have exclusive public spaces and its own style, says the cruise line. Meanwhile Nieuw Statendam will still offer all the stateroom innovations introduced on Koningsdam, including single-cruiser accommodations, as well as a wider range of suite configurations. “As with every new ship, we’ve listened to guest feedback and made our own assessments that have led to exciting changes to Nieuw Statendam that will enhance our stateroom experience across every category,” says Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford. Nieuw Statendam adds five more ocean-view and three more interior staterooms, bringing the total stateroom count to 1,339. More news: ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthThe ship has 103 oceanview and 280 interior staterooms ranging from 225 to 266 square feet. The ship will also have 851 verandah or verandah spa accommodations, bringing the total staterooms that have a verandah, including suites, to 912.The 32 family oceanview staterooms range from 222 to 231 square feet and have been reconfigured for more living space. The family staterooms accommodate up to five passengers and have two bathrooms and extra closet space. The 12 single ocean-view staterooms for solo cruisers range from 127 to 172 square feet and are located on the forward main deck.Meanwhile the Pinnacle Suite is an expansive 1,290 square feet with a bedroom, living room, dining area, dressing room and private verandah with whirlpool. Nieuw Statendam’s Pinnacle Suite was reconfigured to offer an open-concept design with the living room and dining area in one large space. Forty-three Neptune Suites and two Neptune Spa Suites range from 465 to 855 square feet. Guests in these accommodations as well as the Pinnacle Suite have access to the exclusive Neptune Lounge with the personalized service of a concierge. More news: CIE Tours launches first-ever River Cruise CollectionThe 14 Signature Suites are up to 400 square feet in size, and the 104 Vista Suites range from 260 to 356 square feet. Special amenities, include oversized bath towels, fresh flowers, a pillow menu, mini bar and one-touch phone concierge service.Spa Suites or Verandah Spa, Outside Spa or Inside Spa staterooms are located near the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, and come with yoga mats for use during the voyage and an iPod docking station. Friday, March 16, 2018 Posted by Share HAL’s Nieuw Statendam: more staterooms and an even bigger Pinnacle Suite Travelweek Group Tags: Holland America Line << Previous PostNext Post >>