In March, $ 9 million was already in your pocket. The founder of the Biblio-Globus travel agency, Alexander Tugolukov, received the first part of the $ 150 million deal to sell his company’s international business to the British giant Thomas Cook. The entrepreneur has long dreamed of concentrating fully on the development of domestic tourism. “Our tourists annually take a lot of money to foreign resorts, I wanted to change something,” Alexander Tugolukov explained his decision in an interview with Forbes.
Six months later, on September 23, 2019, Thomas Cook, founded in 1841, announced its liquidation. Great Britain began the largest evacuation of its citizens, vacationing on international vouchers since World War II. The deal with Tugolukov fell apart, he had to return the deposit. What is the entrepreneur going to do next?
War and Peace
In September 2014, Alexander Tugolukov came to the office of the founder and co-owner of Transaero. Alexander Pleshakov invited a partner to discuss the situation with Egypt, where a military coup took place in July, and find a solution. Every year, "Biblio-Globus" sent about 800,000 tourists on Pleshakov's planes to Egyptian resorts, providing the tour operator with up to 40% of the proceeds. The Egyptian direction was loaded with the Transaero fleet, which performed an average of seven flights a day. Tugolukov proposed replacing troubled Egypt with a stable Russian south. The offer was unexpected.
“He always sought to show his compatriots the world,” says one of the acquaintances of the entrepreneur. The large-scale business of Tugolukov grew precisely on the overseas vacation of fellow citizens. He founded the Biblio-Globus company in 1994 with his wife Julia. The tiny travel agency of the son of a military man and the daughter of a co-owner of Boris Yesenkin, a bookstore known since Soviet times, sold vouchers to private individuals in Cyprus and gradually grew. In 1998, Biblio-Globus sent 20,000 people to the island, two years later - already 35,000. In 1999, the company's turnover amounted to $ 2.5 million - for the founders it was already decent money. “It became clear that with our experience we can develop a new agent market for us,” recalls Alexander Tugolukov.
By 2008, Biblio-Globus worked in three main areas - Cyprus, Thailand and Tunisia - and developed several new ones, including the Maldives and Indonesia. Then the operator launched its own online management system. Its competitive advantage was the ability to instantly change the cost of the tour depending on the prices of hotel rooms, airline tickets, etc. The system showed good results, increased business efficiency and allowed to reach a new level. In 2009, Biblio-Globus signed a contract for joint work with Transaero Airlines. He was introduced to Alexander Pleshakov by Inna Beltyukova, the founder of Capital Tour, one of the country's largest tour operators at that time, whose subagent was Biblio-Globus.
It was not easy to work with Transaero: the tour operator had to load huge planes, increase volumes, open and run in new directions. Tugolukov took a risk by offering Pleshakov a strategic partnership: he bought all the seats on flights at the best price (before that, Biblio-Globus purchased tickets for flights through other tour operators). Pleshakov agreed. In the future, low prices from the carrier became almost the main competitive advantage of Biblio-Globus. In 2009, the tour operator sent 180,000 people on vacation, and in 2012 - already 1.2 million tourists in 30 countries. A year later, revenue almost doubled and amounted to 62 billion rubles, Biblio-Globus became the largest tour operator in the country, overtaking Tez Tour and Pegas Touristik.
«Классический туроператорский бизнес вырождается. С развитием цифровых технологий основными игроками становятся агрегаторы, маркетплейсы и платформы динамического пакетирования: Booking, Aviasales, Expedia и другие», — говорит Инна Бельтюкова, которая сейчас является председателем комиссии по цифровым технологиям Ассоциации внутреннего и въездного туризма. Первого октября «Библио-Глобус» вынужденно расторг сделку с Thomas Cook, объявившим о своей ликвидации, и пообещал отправить на отдых всех российских клиентов компании, которые купили путевки заранее. «Весь бизнес — основной и оборотный капиталы, торговая марка, клиентская база, лицензии, имущество и технологии — переходит прежним владельцам», — сообщили представители туроператора. Сейчас задача «Библио-Глобуса» — перевести здоровые куски бизнеса, оставшиеся после владельца-банкрота, обратно в Россию и успокоить потребителя, говорит владелец крупного турагентства.