Visit Florida

Published on Friday, June 2, 2006

US specialist Holiday Bookers ceases trading

Maidstone-based Holiday Bookers has become the latest casualty of the declining popularity of the US market and ceased trading with the loss of 20 jobs.

The firm, founded in 2003, specialised in tailor-made holidays to the US, with Florida accounting for around 50% of its business.

Owner Ian Brooks said: “Unfortunately, we’ve been forced to take this decision because the business is losing money and we can’t afford to carry on like that. We’ve tried retraining staff but it didn’t really work and this is the sensible decision.

“Obviously staff are upset about it, but I wouldn’t say it was a total shock. The Florida market has been really tough for a while now.”

Many operators, including First Choice, have recently reported a slump in bookings to Florida, as families look for an alternative to theme park holidays.

Brooks stressed that all staff at Holiday Bookers had been paid up until the end of May and all those who had made forward bookings with the company – around 1,000 holidaymakers – had been given alternative trips with another operator.

“We’ve made sure that there hasn’t been a call on the bond and people don’t have to claim their money back,” said Brooks. “We didn’t want them to be inconvenienced.”

Brooks, who sold Med Hotels to lastminute.com for £16 million in 2003, said he had put “quite a substantial amount of his own money” into Holiday Bookers.

The company first ran into difficulties last year and recruited industry veteran Roger Allard’s firm, International Rescue, to help restructure the business.

Brooks said he was now concentrating on his other ventures, online cruise retailer Ideal Cruising, and the operator Captivating Cuba.

Report by Jeremy Skidmore (www.jeremyskidmore.com)

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