I can’t let the news of National Express ditching its Touromo grouping without passing comment, not least because many people will think it was never really given the chance to get going.
Just after launch, I ordered a Touromo brochure, in the name of research. It landed a few days later but I quickly realised that there were no departures near my home; I wonder at the wisdom of wasting that brochure, and why the Touromo website hadn’t made it clear that I am many miles from a departure point.
The fact is, Touromo fell between two stools; neither a local tour operator nor a national one, and it was always going to struggle to be seen as either. However, before National Express bought them, those companies had launched, nurtured and run tours successfully for decades, not as vanity projects but as profit centres. It does seem sad that Woods of Leicester – to name just one – has now gone, after all the work Mark and Pauline put into it.
It also seems a little odd, too. I get a lot of feedback from coach tour operators, and at the moment, it’s almost all positive. While hospitality costs have rocketed (did you know London Zoo charges £38 for a ticket?) together with wages, parts, fuel, etc, the public seems on board with this and there seems to be little resistance to higher tour prices. Perhaps not surprising, as group tours are still a real bargain. So why didn’t Touromo benefit from this uplift? If they were going to choose a year to launch, 2023 couldn’t have been much better.
And yes, the lack of patience does hint at a low budget for the launch. Tottenham Hotspur FC have had managers who have stayed longer than Touromo did. Clearly, the bookings fell short or projections by a big margin. I wonder, now, whether part of the reason would be that, actually, customers prefer to book with a familiar company they see; making me also wonder whether the rebranding was counterproductive, and that Woods of Leicester should still be on the side of the vehicles.
But there you have it. Touromo is gone. I just hope that the customer databases have not been binned, so those who have no option but a coach holiday can still find a coach holiday. Operators should be making a bid for the ‘book’ by applying to National Express. Or would that be Mobico?