What next for Hapag-Lloyd?
TUI Group AG, the travel group has announced plans to align its global brands under its TUI brand, this has been a long process, the company has been aligning its offerings since it acquired Thomson Travel Group.
Already in the UK the operations of Lunn Poly, Britannia and First Choice have combined under the Thomson name. TUI is to continue this further by uniting all its brand under the TUI name over the coming years. In my mind this makes sense, for the holiday companies, the airlines, the travel agencies… just not the cruise lines.
TUI owns, or is part owner, in three cruise lines, Hapag-Lloyd, Thomson Cruises and TUI Cruises. Now all these cruise lines serve different markets. To combine them under one brand, as has been discussed, would be crazy. It is the equivalent of Carnival rebranding all their ships under the Carnival brand. In my mind this just wouldn’t work. Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 is just too different from Thomson Celebration for this match to work. However reports from Travel Weekly, Cruise Business Review and even Morgan Stanley suggest that these cruise lines may combine.
TUI and Thomson, once Thomson has been refreshed with its new ships – Mein Schiff 1 & 2 as well as Splendor of the Seas – would make reasonable partners. It would also make sense if the rest of the company is being renamed.
Hapag-Lloyd is the outsider, unlike the others it hasn’t adopted the TUI masterbrand of blue with a red winking face. So surely Hapag-Lloyd cannot be involved.
Hapag-Lloyd itself is a diverse product, with its luxury ships Europa and Europa 2 as well as its exploration ships Bremen and Hanseatic. The brand has a strong focus around the German market and my guess would be is rather unknown in the UK.
However I would regret the loss of this brand, like Cunard and Holland America this company has a strong maritime history which it doesn’t really play up to. Unlike Cunard and Holland America the company successfully managed the growth of the container trade and continues to be a large player in this field. Personally I would keep the line and focus more on its heritage, but rename Europa to Bremen, Europa 2 to Europa and Bremen to Ballin, numbers in ships names just aren’t right!
TUI has really pushed into the cruising scene in the last decade, launching TUI Cruises in association with Royal Caribbean and it planned investment in Thomson Cruises, as well as adding Europa 2 to Hapag-Lloyd.
TUI hasn’t yet released its rebranding plans in detail, so it will be interesting to see what happens.