DER Touristik

Burmester wants to 'wake the sleeping giant' among German tour operators

As DER Touristik's CEO Central Europe, Ingo Burmester is responsibile for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
DER Tour
As DER Touristik's CEO Central Europe, Ingo Burmester is responsibile for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Ingo Burmester, the new head of Germany’s third-largest tour operator, DER Touristik, plans to shake up the company, build up omnichannel sales and return to revenue growth with more focused holiday brands.

In the last few years, DER Touristik has lost market share in the German tour operator market, with its revenues declining from €2,910 million in 2015 to €2,652 million in 2018, including falls in each of the last three years, according to fvw’s annual tour operators dossier. TUI claims to have overtaken Dertour as the largest long-haul tour operator, while FTI has outgrown the package holiday brands in important destinations such as Turkey and Egypt.

Group CEO Sören Hartmann told fvw last December that “we must reach a better profit level in Germany”. Over the past year, under former Central Europe chief René Herzog, DER Touristik Germany has reduced its workforce by about 240 positions and restructured destinations into clusters with one single manager responsible for production and also marketing.

Burmester, who took over as head of DER Touristik Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in May, has plenty of ideas how to improve the business. “DER Touristik Germany is a sleeping giant that will now wake up,” declared the former TUI and Thomas Cook manager.

One priority will be to improve synergies between the different parts of the complex group, which, for historical reasons, still operates with two head offices (in Cologne and Frankfurt). “I want to bring the different parts of the value chain – the tour operator, the sales network, our DMCs and hotels – more closely together. TUI and Thomas Cook have already got this behind them,” he told journalists.

For example, the group’s hotels brands, Calimera, LTI, Primasol and Cooee, do not use DER Touristik’s ‘red suitcase handle’ logo in their marketing and are often available through other tour operators.

Moreover, the tour operator brands – Dertour, ITS, Jahn Reisen, Meier’s Weltreisen, ADAC Reisen and Travelix – are a diverse mix with weak positioning in some cases. “We will have to consider whether we still need six tour operator brands,” Burmester said.

One priority will be to build up omnichannel sales, bringing travel agency, tour operator and online sales closer together. DER Touristik has the biggest travel agency network in Germany, which makes solid double-digit million euro profits. “With about 500 branches and our franchise and partner agencies we have the best sales network in Germany,” he declared.

But he pointed out: “At the moment we do not address customers jointly. I want the tour operator to do that together with the travel agencies and online sales.” In general, he explained, “we have to bring the customer communication of online channels together with the product expertise of travel agents”.

Burmester worked for TUI Group for 17 years in different roles, including as head of short- and long-haul package holidays and of premium club holidays operator Robinson. In 2017, he joined Thomas Cook Group, firstly with responsibility for the hotels division and then as head of Thomas Cook UK.

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