Last month, our Managing Director John Guscic spoke with Nicolas from LADEVI, the leading travel industry publication in Latin America.
Here’s what they had to say:
(Nicolas) Thanks to the recent acquisition of recognized firms such as JacTravel and Destinations of the World (DOTW), WebBeds has one of the largest hotel inventories in the world.
These milestones, coupled with an increase of staff in the region, strengthen the presence of WebBeds in Latin America. For the last eight years, John Guscic has worked as Managing Director of the Webjet group, a period that fully covers the creation and development of the company’s largest unit: WebBeds.
We Talked to him to learn about the rapid growth since the incorporation of JacTravel in 2017, and how the company is becoming much more relevant in our region.
Tell us about the history of WebBeds and Webjet.
(John) The Webjet business started in Australia in 1998, initially as a travel agency. Over the years, Webjet.com has grown to become the number one OTA in Australia and New Zealand, representing 50% of all reservations in those countries. WebBeds is the group’s B2B division, launched in February 2013 as an organic start-up based in the Middle East. Then we acquired a small operator called Sunhotels based in Palma de Mallorca. From there we grew organically, developed in Europe and we launched in the Americas and Asia. From there, there were significant milestones that changed the company’s trajectory: in 2016 we added our partnership with Thomas Cook, in 2017 we acquired JacTravel and recently in November 2018 we welcomed destinations of the World (DOTW).
Thus, in only six years WebBeds became the most important business unit of Webjet and the second largest B2B wholesaler globally.
WebBeds has a strong global mentality. What is your specific position in Latin America?
We were privileged to acquire JacTravel, since the firm already had direct contracts and many customers in Latin America. With the subsequent incorporation of DOTW and the decision to invest further by growing our team in the region, we experienced further increase. In fact, Latin America is our fastest growing market, so we are continuing to invest.
With this background, would JacTravel be the most relevant brand for our market?
Not necessarily, since it is a totally integrated business model. This means that when we negotiate the contracts with WebBeds we sell them across all our platforms. The contract is not based on individual marks but on the WebBeds brand. Of course, if a customer already uses the JacTravel platform you can continue to do so.
Then there are differences between the brands?
There may be some differences in the offer, but in this phase of integration the first thing we do is share the contracts across all the platforms, so that the products are available in all. The idea is to provide more inventory, ample availability and better pricing across our distribution network.
Taking into account the competition amongst OTAs. What makes WebBeds different?
Our focus is to provide a high level of service to our customers, along with convenience and a complete product offering. These facts have ruled all our businesses from the beginning. We offer the widest range of hotels possible, at an excellent price, to ensure user satisfaction. So far that strategy is working very well.
How is the B2B model? Are you planning to open up to the public?
No. Direct sale is not in the plans. We will not compete with our partners at all.
What will you focus on in the coming months? Will you be including new products beyond hotels?
Our focus right now is on completing the integration of DOTW and after that we hope to continue expanding the portfolio of products. Our main business is hotels, and although we offer activities and transfers, that is a smaller segment for the moment. Our priority is ensuring that our clients have the best possible access to a broad selection of competitively priced hotels.
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