TUI boss Sebastian Ebel: his first interview

Mr. Ebel, a lot of people dream of sun and beach – and then we’d rather keep the money together with a view to the gas bill. What do TUI’s booking figures say?

In general, it is correct not to ignore factors such as geopolitics, the Ukraine war and inflation. Disposable income is likely to be lower. But we don’t see anything disruptive in the booking figures, at most a trend towards short-term bookings that has existed for some time anyway. Despite the late lifting of the restrictions, we achieved a good 90 percent of the booking level of 2019 throughout the summer, i.e. almost as much as before the pandemic, and with significantly higher average revenues. This trend is also intact for the winter, travel has a high priority for people. That’s very encouraging.

German travel agencies report that sales fell by a fifth in October and by a quarter since the beginning of the year compared to 2019.

I read that too, but that’s not what it looks like in our bookings. This shows that TUI is doing very well here in Germany, and our strategy is working.

You have only been CEO of TUI AG for six weeks, succeeding Friedrich Joussen. Does that mean you’re talking about the strategy you already know?

Yes, we have developed it together as a team over the last two or three years. corona slowed us down. The task now is to implement the agreed measures cleanly and quickly in order to grow profitably. In the core business, we want to gain market share by being agile and customer-friendly, i.e. delivering what is expected of a brand like TUI. The second pillar of the strategy is the significant expansion of the product portfolio. The classic package tour is becoming more diverse, as we combine cheap flights with currently available hotels, even at short notice. This also creates offers that have not previously been sought from TUI, such as city breaks. In the industry we call this process dynamic packaging. In addition, we will also offer individual travel products separately, i.e. overnight stays, flights, rental cars, insurance and the products from TUI Musement, which are services from excursions at the holiday destination to museum visits in the city. And thirdly, we also want to win new customers for the entire TUI range.

Sebastian Ebel, CEO of TUI

Sebastian Ebel, CEO of TUI

Image: Christian Wyrwa

It sounds like you need to invest heavily in IT as well. This is the only way that new TUI customers can come from rather random business contacts.

IT and digitization were also areas in which we invested heavily during the Corona period. We have a strong lineup with development departments not only in Germany and the UK, but also in Portugal, Poland and India. We aim to work more with our own employees. We fight for talent. For us, it’s less about hierarchies and more about doing and implementing, which is well received by potential applicants.

You should present the future offer at an investor conference Amazon have compared.

Yes, we offer the whole range of tourism products, including exclusive items. For us, Amazon Prime means RIU, Robinson, Mein Schiff or TUI Collection: offers that we develop ourselves and that are not available anywhere else.

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