Asia powers growth of wholesale tour operator G2

The G2 team from Bangkok and Hong Kong met in Manila recently

Wholesale tour operator G2 Travel has metamorphosed into a global giant just six years after it was started by top honchos who left Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA) following the latter’s purchase by Kuoni from Travelport.

Built up from scratch, G2 now has 23 offices globally with nearly 1,000 staff serving over 15,000 group tours that book one million room nights. Business grew by 30 per cent last year with Asia a big part of that growth, said director David Littlefair, who was part of the GTA breakaway group that also included GTA founder David Babai.

The G2 team from Bangkok and Hong Kong met in Manila recently

“We all came from tour operating background… all cut from the same cloth”, said Bangkok-based Littlefair, commenting on G2’s successful growth trajectory on a recent visit to the Philippines to meet travel agency partners.

Amid the spate of mergers and acquisitions in the industry at the time of the breakaway, G2 saw that there was still room for smaller business in the market. “When we started, we might have been a new brand and entity but we have massive amounts of experience and relationships in the market, which is very important in the group sector,” Littlefair explained.

Another edge is Genie, a completely automated system that connects to suppliers, developed by G2’s own in-house technology department.

Littlefair said that of the 30 per cent increase in global business last year, about 60 per cent came from Asia, led by Indonesia and Thailand, while China is fast catching up. Hong Kong has slightly plateaued in the last two years due to its sensitivity to security tensions in Europe, while Singapore is a considerable source of FITs.

Markets like the Philippines, which has yet to reach its full growth potential, is characterised by but bigger groups and longer trip duration of up to 30 days compared with a maximum of 10 days in other source markets.

In Indochina, Vietnam has huge potential and is G2’s biggest market. Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos are starting to have some groups. The latter trio still make up a small percentage of the business but “we want to be there early to cultivate the relationship and to better understand the market,” said Littlefair.

While its focus is on group inbound to Europe, G2 is widening its net beyond the continent to the US – where it opened offices in New York and Los Angeles last year – Canada, South America and Israel, including an office in Tel Aviv.

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