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Crusader Coach Holidays Crashes Out


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One has to wonder if Coach Holiday companies are "doubly-doomed" (if it is possible to be doomed twice over?) because not only are they suffering from the consumer slowdown and competition with cheap airlines, but also their main customer base (the retired folks in their golden age who grew up with the concept of coach holidays in the era 1930s through 1950s) are literally dying off.

Any tips for surviving coach holiday companies? Methinks now might be a great time for a tin-foil hatter armageddon-fan to snap up a cheap coach and convert it to a mobile RV home for survival in the post-crisis UK mountains:

East Anglia: Christmas breaks in ruins as Crusader Holidays goes into administration

Friday, December 2, 2011

11:09 AM

HUNDREDS of holidaymakers looking forward to a Christmas break have had their plans ruined after an Essex coach company went into adminstration.

.

Crusader Holidays, based in Clacton, has called in administrators, putting the jobs of 34 employees at risk, and cancelling many of its scheduled overnight tours and day excursions.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, the trade association for the coach industry, said customers would get their money back.

A spokesman said: “The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, confirms that the Clacton-on Sea firm, Crusader Holidays has gone into administration.

“Crusader Holidays are a member of the Bonded Coach Holidays Scheme which protects customers’ money.

“Under the scheme, customers who have already paid for their package holiday, involving coach travel and at least one night’s accommodation, are protected and will get a refund in full.

“The administrators, Ernest & Young, will over the next few days contact customers directly to ensure that those customers who have not as yet taken their holiday will get claim forms to claim their refund. While appreciating the disappointment and upheaval these situations cause to people looking forward to their holidays, it does highlight the benefits of customers ensuring the package holiday they book is with a company that is the member of the Bonded Coach Holiday scheme.”

A former Crusader Holidays coach driver, who did not wish to be named, said: “This is going to affect hundreds of people – Crusader coaches pick up all over East Anglia.

“Many customers will be looking forward to going on holiday, but in reality they’re in for a big disappointment.

“It’s a difficult time for every business at the moment, but this is usually a busy time of the year for the coach industry. There are a lot of people going to the continent for the Christmas markets.

“A lot of other coach companies are going to be fairly booked up now so I don’t know if people will be able to re-book before Christmas.”

Penny Strange, 59, of Ipswich, was due to travel with Crusader Holidays to Bruges in Belgium on a four-day Christmas market break.

She said: “The company tried to call me on Wednesday – two days before I was due to travel – but I wasn’t in so they left a message saying they had important information.

“By the time I got the message their office was closed. I looked on their website, but it was down.

“I’m very disappointed, I’ve been looking to get away since October and I think I’ll be hard-pushed to find anything else now.

“I paid £306 for the holiday. I’ve been told that I should get it all back, but it won’t be in time to book anything else before Christmas.

“I’ve travelled with Crusader several times before and they’ve always been very reliable.”

Maurice Moses, of Ernst and Young, said: “The administrators are now exploring the option of selling the business and assets of the group

Edited by Caribbean Beauty
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its worse than just crusaders.

there will be the hotels without clients, the attractions without visitors, the restaurants without customers.

HI BL, yes you are correct - a small hotel in our North Norfolk tourist village usually survives each autumn and winter with the silver-birders and retirees who want a nice break without school-hols kids around.

This season is a disaster - nobody has slept in or eaten in the hotel since tuesday and it has 0 bookings for meals or rooms this weekend! The owner has taken just a couple of hundred quid in his bar from regular local drinkers, that's it, and is paying out several hundred in staff wages before all the other costs of running a large old building.

Edited by Caribbean Beauty
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HI BL, yes you are correct - a small hotel in our North Norfolk tourist village usually survives each autumn and winter with the silver-birders and retirees who want a nice break without school-hols kids around.

This season is a disaster - nobody has slept in or eaten in the hotel since tuesday and it has 0 bookings for meals or rooms this weekend! The owner has taken just a couple of hundred quid in his bar from regular local drinkers, that's it, and is paying out several hundred in staff wages before all the other costs of running a large old building.

still, Im sure the banks behind these businesses will be their usual helpful selves.

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I know people who go on this type of coach holiday and for what you get for your money the profit margins must be wafer thin.

I read that over the years crusader went from owning 24 coaches to leasing 12, sounds like they have been on a downward trajectory for some years.

Also, not only is the client base dying off but that generation have been hardest hit by the low interest rate/high inflation economy.

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Carrib, how's your booking sites - holding up? General picture out there?

HI OM - things got so bad this year that I simply handed back the regional reseller contract to the booking company HQ to manage! I lost a few of my last big hotel clients to new booking system providers with whom our 5-8% commissions could not compete - eg booking.com is now offering hotels engines for their own websites for a measly 3% of booked commissions (provided the hotel pays a much higher % of commission for bookings made on the mirrored-engine on booking.com own site, which is also welcomed by most hotels).

The days of stand-alone booking engine providers are over, we cannot compete with massive online portal economics.

I have hung onto half a dozen website management contracts but most of these Caribbean clients are either going bust or have stopped all communication in the run up to my Januar 2012 invoicing (the old head in the sand trick to avoid bad news - but after a couple of reminders I will simply delete their whole website, permanently). It is a death spiral.

Happy days

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HI OM - things got so bad this year that I simply handed back the regional reseller contract to the booking company HQ to manage! I lost a few of my last big hotel clients to new booking system providers with whom our 5-8% commissions could not compete - eg booking.com is now offering hotels engines for their own websites for a measly 3% of booked commissions (provided the hotel pays a much higher % of commission for bookings made on the mirrored-engine on booking.com own site, which is also welcomed by most hotels).

The days of stand-alone booking engine providers are over, we cannot compete with massive online portal economics.

I have hung onto half a dozen website management contracts but most of these Caribbean clients are either going bust or have stopped all communication in the run up to my Januar 2012 invoicing (the old head in the sand trick to avoid bad news - but after a couple of reminders I will simply delete their whole website, permanently). It is a death spiral.

Happy days

Carrib, sorry to hear that, competition and economies of scale in the online world is a bitch. Also a lot of these large concerns probably got heavy seed funcing and cheap money to oust others in the market. Been there, done that.

Strikes me holdiay pricing is going up and bookings going down - increasingly neither party can participate in the game.

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I was astonished the first time I stood in a predominantly muslim nation in the north africa to see a load of people on crusader holidays.

Insensitive much?

I seriously considered coming back and setting up "jihadi tours" in competition. But I decided as an atheist of nordic ancestry that might look odd too.

bit ot I know.

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Carrib, sorry to hear that, competition and economies of scale in the online world is a bitch. Also a lot of these large concerns probably got heavy seed funcing and cheap money to oust others in the market. Been there, done that.

Strikes me holdiay pricing is going up and bookings going down - increasingly neither party can participate in the game.

Yes, and now that the giants Google and Facebook are getting into the online travel agency business, what hope is there? Once they perfect their methods and delivery systems, their captive market of browsers and ability to de-list any competitors, will consolidate their position and kill off even some of the larger over-extended OTAs.

Mind you, some of them do need killing off.

Ultimately, however, everything is slowly heading towards direct bookings of every travel component and one day there will be no intermediaries at all, all of them will be gone from Thomas Cook to TUI to booking.com etc, inside 10 years. Folks will simply build their own air-hotel-tour packages, and save.

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Yes, and now that the giants Google and Facebook are getting into the online travel agency business, what hope is there? Once they perfect their methods and delivery systems, their captive market of browsers and ability to de-list any competitors, will consolidate their position and kill off even some of the larger over-extended OTAs.

Mind you, some of them do need killing off.

Ultimately, however, everything is slowly heading towards direct bookings of every travel component and one day there will be no intermediaries at all, all of them will be gone from Thomas Cook to TUI to booking.com etc, inside 10 years. Folks will simply build their own air-hotel-tour packages, and save.

A trend that is ongong throughout many other sectors - it is going to be a shock when the government wakes up and finds its expensive financial sector stripped of half the jobs. The London lunacy of pitching the real estate as a investment free for all will end up in total disaster for most of the employees involved.

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HI OM - things got so bad this year that I simply handed back the regional reseller contract to the booking company HQ to manage! I lost a few of my last big hotel clients to new booking system providers with whom our 5-8% commissions could not compete - eg booking.com is now offering hotels engines for their own websites for a measly 3% of booked commissions (provided the hotel pays a much higher % of commission for bookings made on the mirrored-engine on booking.com own site, which is also welcomed by most hotels).

The days of stand-alone booking engine providers are over, we cannot compete with massive online portal economics.

I have hung onto half a dozen website management contracts but most of these Caribbean clients are either going bust or have stopped all communication in the run up to my Januar 2012 invoicing (the old head in the sand trick to avoid bad news - but after a couple of reminders I will simply delete their whole website, permanently). It is a death spiral.

Happy days

Sorry to hear things are turning against you. People assume it's all down to hard work and good decisions (and yes this is an element) but when the market tide and trends turn against you it's very hard to devise a route back.

I thought the disturbances in the Arab countries may have helped your cause (bookings were up in Spain this year, due to this). Could you not find where Egyptian holidays are advertised, and try and plug your destinations there? People who may have been tempted to Egypt in the past may still be put off by the continuing unrest there. In internet terms you may be able to find where the Egyptian tour operators put most of their backlinks, and try and intercept the traffic there?

Ok, the above probably won't be the best advice you've ever had, it's all I can think of at the moment. Best of luck for the future.

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Not one have you have pointed out the real reason coach businesses are dying.

The older population is actually expanding, so it isn't that.

Pensions haven't been hit as much as wages by inflation yet, so it isn't that.

Consider when the coach businesses started dying. It was the introduction of free bus passes for OAPs.

OAPs can travel in their county for free on the buses, trams and trains, but not coaches.

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Not one have you have pointed out the real reason coach businesses are dying.

The older population is actually expanding, so it isn't that.

Pensions haven't been hit as much as wages by inflation yet, so it isn't that.

Consider when the coach businesses started dying. It was the introduction of free bus passes for OAPs.

OAPs can travel in their county for free on the buses, trams and trains, but not coaches.

inflation is about rising costs of living...not pensions per se.

so, rising energy and food, means less money in the kitty for trips and days out.

less customers means wage freezes and redundancies.

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Not one have you have pointed out the real reason coach businesses are dying.

The older population is actually expanding, so it isn't that.

Pensions haven't been hit as much as wages by inflation yet, so it isn't that.

Consider when the coach businesses started dying. It was the introduction of free bus passes for OAPs.

OAPs can travel in their county for free on the buses, trams and trains, but not coaches.

Up thread it was bemoaned that the oldest people with a habit and history of foreign coach travel were dying off. Not that there was not enough old people.

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Not one have you have pointed out the real reason coach businesses are dying.

The older population is actually expanding, so it isn't that.

Pensions haven't been hit as much as wages by inflation yet, so it isn't that.

Consider when the coach businesses started dying. It was the introduction of free bus passes for OAPs.

OAPs can travel in their county for free on the buses, trams and trains, but not coaches.

Don't think so - these coach companies are offering stays away, they can block book accommodation deals much cheaper than the free transport could offset, that is if you can even get to the place you are going without having to plan the multiple hops between local bus services to do so.

Expect it is more to do with 3 years of inflation cutting into budgets of those on fixed and lowered incomes from savings. that is really starting to hurt both young and old in low income situations.

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Up thread it was bemoaned that the oldest people with a habit and history of foreign coach travel were dying off. Not that there was not enough old people.

+1, precisely.

There is a comparison to be made with quaint old hobbies like bowls, making jams for the WI, going to church and more - the generation which knew how to do all this stuff and enjoyed it are also the generation which enjoyed coach package holidays in the years before Dan Air launched ex UK package jet flights to Spain in the early 70s.

They are either now dying or too infirm to travel. Hence why the other things I listed are also dying out.

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Sorry to hear things are turning against you. People assume it's all down to hard work and good decisions (and yes this is an element) but when the market tide and trends turn against you it's very hard to devise a route back.

I thought the disturbances in the Arab countries may have helped your cause (bookings were up in Spain this year, due to this). Could you not find where Egyptian holidays are advertised, and try and plug your destinations there? People who may have been tempted to Egypt in the past may still be put off by the continuing unrest there. In internet terms you may be able to find where the Egyptian tour operators put most of their backlinks, and try and intercept the traffic there?

Ok, the above probably won't be the best advice you've ever had, it's all I can think of at the moment. Best of luck for the future.

Hi Trampa, that is very thoughtful of you to come up with some helpful ideas! Thanks. But I did not market any destination in recent years anyway, nor did I sell hotel rooms or packages - all I did was lease and manage hotel website booking engine software in the Caribbean region, as a reseller agent for a small independent booking engine provider (most folks do not appreciate that when you place a booking on a hotel's own website, 99% of the time you do so using leased or franchised cloud-based software, not the hotel's own software.

But that's a dying mugs game now the big OTAs (online travel agets) are offering either free or dirt cheap booking engines to hotels' own websites (in return for higher commission yields from bookings placed on the OTA's own portal).

As all of you will know, everything on the web is going either free or "pay for performance" so firms with Web 1.0 revenue models are either dying or having to make drastic changes to raise income in these days od Web 2.0.

PS - I now make and sell very hot west indian chilli sauces and am in nearly 30 shops and sell online, so am surviving! You cannot keep a good androgenous woman/man down.

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http://ageukblog.org.uk/2011/08/30/government-ends-concessionary-coach-fares/

Making longer journeys is about to get more difficult for many older people. From 1 November 2011 older people will not be able to benefit from a 50% discount to coach travel.

At the moment coach operators claim subsidies in return for offering a half-price concession to older and disabled people. The move to end this arrangement was quietly announced by the government in an annex to the Department for Transport’s Spending Review last year.

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+1, precisely.

There is a comparison to be made with quaint old hobbies like bowls, making jams for the WI, going to church and more - the generation which knew how to do all this stuff and enjoyed it are also the generation which enjoyed coach package holidays in the years before Dan Air launched ex UK package jet flights to Spain in the early 70s.

They are either now dying or too infirm to travel. Hence why the other things I listed are also dying out.

The coach companies catered to a market that used them well.......there are now so many other ways to travel and other options open to people the new old are now doing things differently....things change the winners are the ones that change with the times....the only problem is there are now fewer winners and more losers.....the winners are squeezing the small fry out of their market...the key is to create a new market. ;)

Edited by winkie
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That's a pity.

There's actually a lot to be said for bus travel now that airports are so hostile. You can take much more baggage - free - and you get to where you are going, not some Ryanair airport 100 miles from the advertised destination.

There used to be a couple of local coach services that competed with the train to London for commuters. Both of these folded recently because of operating costs. No bankruptcy, they just couldn't keep up.

I guess it's largely fuel costs and, going abroad, you have the wonderfully declining pound too.

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HI OM - things got so bad this year that I simply handed back the regional reseller contract to the booking company HQ to manage! I lost a few of my last big hotel clients to new booking system providers with whom our 5-8% commissions could not compete - eg booking.com is now offering hotels engines for their own websites for a measly 3% of booked commissions (provided the hotel pays a much higher % of commission for bookings made on the mirrored-engine on booking.com own site, which is also welcomed by most hotels).

The days of stand-alone booking engine providers are over, we cannot compete with massive online portal economics.

I have hung onto half a dozen website management contracts but most of these Caribbean clients are either going bust or have stopped all communication in the run up to my Januar 2012 invoicing (the old head in the sand trick to avoid bad news - but after a couple of reminders I will simply delete their whole website, permanently). It is a death spiral.

Happy days

Sorry to heat that CB. Interesting perspective nevertheless.

Of course the silver birders in the OP are feeling the pinch from ZIRP, keeping over leveraged home owners in their over priced houses is the key to recovereh!

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The coach companies catered to a market that used them well.......there are now so many other ways to travel and other options open to people the new old are now doing things differently....things change the winners are the ones that change with the times....the only problem is there are now fewer winners and more losers.....the winners are squeezing the small fry out of their market...the key is to create a new market. ;)

Dare say the city to city coach market is doing fine, operated by Stagecoach et all. Was going to give the Huddersfield to London run a try but I'm not allowed to take a bike (even though I can dismantle it and bag it, has to be hinged in the middle apparently) so I'll take the train instead.

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