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Léa: let’s respect the memory of the deceased and bury Donatello in dignity!

The life of the (almost) blonde travel agent


I started this article ten times, I wrote it, rewrote it, edited it, erased it, restarted and I have to admit that I just can’t do it. I didn’t take on the career of a blogger to write funeral prayers but I have to admit that since I started writing chronicles at TourMaG.com, I buried Marsans, Nosilys, Inexo, Best Tours, Royal Tours and many more.



This great company will be liquidated this week and we’re sad about it. I’m only a little blonde and frivolous travel agent but I condemn the social destruction and disappearance of the brand, and what infuriates me even more is the terrible series of event of the last few weeks. Drawing Raf
This great company will be liquidated this week and we’re sad about it. I’m only a little blonde and frivolous travel agent but I condemn the social destruction and disappearance of the brand, and what infuriates me even more is the terrible series of event of the last few weeks. Drawing Raf
I didn’t think that one day, I would have to write a chronicle on the bankruptcy of Donatello.

I am shocked and I scratched my head for a long time to find the right angle to tackle this article.

To give myself some strength I listened to , on repeat, “Weekend in Roma” by Etienne Daho, the Nouvelle Vague version and that of Vanessa Paradis.

When I was tired of that, I flipped through “Trip in Italiy” by Lilicub (in other words “when youtube relieves the anxiety of the blogger in front of the blank page.”)

We won’t hear these songs for never-ending waiting hours at the reservation center of Donatello and since it’s over, I’ll attempt to mention here some thoughts on the liquidation of this great brand.

Just like every time a tour-operator disappears, I’ll say it’s my fault. I’m already hearing those who love to hate me: “you always brag of squeezing out TOs to work directly with DMCs and low-costs.”

Furthermore, since I started blogging for TourMaG.com, people tend to remember from my posts only one small sentence (granted they can be clumsy at times, but sorry I didn’t study “politically correct” as a second language) to completely forget the article to contextualize.

So here it is, you’ll probably blame me for it but I’ll insist that to assemble a plane ticket and 3 nights in a hotel, I don’t need a TO: I may be a small frivolous travel agent, but I can manage to set up 2 ou 3 services all on my own for 30% less than what a TO would offer, and I’ve already mentioned here how I complement my weekends in Europe with personalized activities and excursions.

The Expedia database and the great recommendations of my DMCs help me. Thanks to them.

Disintermediation facilitated by technological innovations

Let’s get back to the topic:

A few years ago, the CIT, Donatello’s major competitor filed for bankruptcy.

Donatello took back the brand and agencies. Eating up a competitor is often a way of winning by putting him KO.

At that time, Donatello, was chartering on Venice and offered 4 days/3 night stays at excellent quality to price ratio. There, Donatello had true added value and offered agencies products that were easy to sell without needing after-sales services. Pure gold.

But competitors started arriving in this field. In our professions, we don’t have a copyright on a production model. Such is life.

Simultaneously, disintermediation was facilitated by technological advancements.

Add to these powerful motors a bit of the psychology and ingenuity of travel agents and voilà: it became easy for us to assemble, at a lesser price, low-cost flights, hotels, and activities and build a dynamic package.

In turn, for a TO to sell a weekend in Europe has become mission impossible.


Yet that was Donatello’s primary business model and the TO became exsangue. Donatello reacted by trying to reduce to the maximum its expenses: vente of sign-boards, technical unemployment, but it wasn’t enough.

The arrival of a new investor

And then just like a miracle, an investor arrived on its white horse and took over the company.

The investor placed friends and closed ones in key positions who had the mission of modernizing the company without modifying the DNA of the brand (always use the term “the brand’s DNA” when talking marketing, makes you look smart…)

I know that many at Donatello blame him for that, but frankly, if I were the investor, I would have done the same.

Let’s give his team the credit of having tried.

It didn’t tarnish the historical spirit of Donatello: we still had the thick catalogues for à la carte trips, and next to this diverse offer, a pretty schedule on commitments, that responded to client demands, and thus to those of travel agents.

The recipe: charters or seat-blocks “reservable” up to the last moment, high quality hotels at the destination, a performing website, great trips, easy to sell.

This summer, Donatello was very useful to me and I picked without fear in the Sardaigne production for my last-minute sales (the fact that there was always room up to the night before the trip should have been a hint.)

What upsets me the most…

And then, at Top Resa, we received the “magalogues”, magazine-catalogues.

Elegant, inspiring, but they lacked a “seller” aspect.

Let’s admit that Donatello wanted to give the power to travel agents with its magalogues; maybe they were too much of precursors on this aspect.

This great company will be liquidated this week and we’re sad about it. I’m only a little blonde and frivolous travel agent but I condemn the social destruction and disappearance of the brand, and what infuriates me even more is the terrible series of event of the last few weeks. :

We had, in general, the apologies of Mister Vighier (who claimed not heaving read the accounts of the company of his friend of more than 30 years before buying it out, LOL), the surprise over the lack of cash in the Winter (really? trips in the Mediterranean don’t sell all 12 months of the year?) and the declarations of companies who expressed having studied the case.

Do you really believe that Travel Europe, Thalasso n°1, Kuoni or Savanna Tours truly had the intention of buying out a part of Donatello? (special mention to Savanna Tours: I’m not an economist but let me laugh at your imagined cooperative model.)

Let’s respect the memory of the deceased and bury Donatello in dignity.

Written by Léa, the (almost) blonde travel agent translated by Joséphine Foucher the 12/02/2015
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