No fanfare or redirecting to alternative places to book a hotel - Octopus Travel
, a name synonymous with the early days of travel on the web for consumers, is no more.
The brand's masters (now Kuoni
, after its sale within the GTA business by Travelport in March 2011
) closed the consumer-facing websites of Octopus last week, telling visitors that existing bookings would be honoured but that essentially it was the end of its B2C operations.
Reassuringly for consumers, Octopus says the move is the result of a strategic decision by Kuoni and not due to any financial difficulties.
A number of tour operating operations in Europe are also under scrutiny and expected to close shortly.
In terms of Octopus, with B2C services outside of the existing luxury tour operating division no longer of interest to Kuoni, the writing was always on the wall. Kuoni issued a statement in September this year stated it "various smaller loss-making tour operating businesses are no longer of strategic relevant to the group".
The decision to close a number of such activities also included Octopus.
Much has changed in the world of GTA in the past 18 months, with a major re-branding exercise carried out earlier this month to concentrate on two distinct markets.
GTA is now being positioned as "the brand for fully independent travel (FIT)" whilst there is also a dedicated Kuoni Group Travel Experts division.
In a statement, Kuoni says:
"This announcement [re Octopus] has no impact on the FIT retail booking sites GTA, TravelCube, Travel Bound or Octopus Travel Retail in Australia/New Zealand, which operate within a different division (Kuoni Global Travel Services). It is business as usual for us."
The much-talked about deal with eBay, which Octopus signed with eBay in January 2010 (just ahead of the sale by Travelport), was "terminated" by Kuoni in early-2011.