Thomas Cook break-up

RTK snaps up Holiday Land as DER Touristik move fails

Closer cooperation between (from left) RTK chief Thomas Bösl, Schauinsland owner Gerald Kassner, Lars Helmreich (RTK), and Detlef Schroer, Schauinsland sales director.
RTK
Closer cooperation between (from left) RTK chief Thomas Bösl, Schauinsland owner Gerald Kassner, Lars Helmreich (RTK), and Detlef Schroer, Schauinsland sales director.

DER Touristik has failed to take over Thomas Cook's 360 franchise travel agencies in Germany, leaving the way free for leading agency network RTK to snap up the franchise organisation instead.

DER Touristik, now Germany's second-largest tourism group following the collapse of Thomas Cook, announced two weeks ago that it was set to buy the insolvent group's German franchise agencies, which trade under the Holiday Land and Thomas Cook brands, as well as the Sentido hotel brand.

But the company admitted last Friday that it had been unable to finalise terms with Cook's insolvency administrators for the travel agency franchise organisation while it remained in "open" talks over Sentido.

Ingo Burmester, CEO of DER Touristik for Central Europe, said: "We would have been delighted to provide the Holiday Land franchisees a successful and stable framework for their work under the roof of DER Touristik. However, the contractual terms that were absolutely essential for us could not be reached."

Instead, the travel agency network RTK announced that it was taking over the franchise organization with its 360 members, including brand and system rights.  

Thomas Bösl, RTK managing director, said: "I'm delighted to have won this established brand for us and at the same time to be able to offer successful travel agency owners a new home in a well-known business environment." Joint managing director Lars Helmreich added: "Cooperation with the independent travel agency owners within the strong Holiday Land family will strengthen our position as the leading sales organisation on the German market."

Meanwhile, in a separate deal, RT-Reisen, the RTK parent company, has sold on a 50% stake in Alpha Reisebüropartner travel agency network, which comprises more than 700 independent travel agencies, to tour operator Schauinsland-Reisen.

Alpha Reisebüropartner operated as a joint venture between Thomas Cook Germany and RT-Reisen for many years, with the agencies marketing themselves as Neckermann Reisen cooperation partners. RT-Reisen took over Cook's 50% stake in a temporary move last month to ensure that the network continued to trade on a stable basis after the tour operator's insolvency.

In future, Schauinsland will become the 'lead tour operator' for the Alpha travel agencies as the new joint ownership structure. The agencies will trade under their own name but integrate a logo with the words "Schauinsland-Reisen Partner".

These latest developments mean that most of the 1,200 German travel agencies that used to cooperate closely with Thomas Cook now have a new 'home'. Apart from the 700 Alpha partners and the 360 Holiday Land franchisees, the insolvent German tour operator owned 127 travel agencies (79 Thomas Cook-branded outlets and 48 'Neckermann Urlaubswelt' agencies) which are still in business.

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