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Whatever happened to Blakes?

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So Blakes Boating Holidays is no more, apart from a minor sub-brand within the Hoseasons empire.

I was flicking through a brochure from 2001 and I was reminded just how many Blakes yards there were 10 years ago - the likes of Brooms, Rivercraft, Herbert Woods, Moores, Anchorcraft to name a few. There were a few smaller yards too like Neatishead Boatyard at Wayford Bridge and Maffetts came under the Blakes banner in those days.

I know there's been a fall in the overall number of yards and a reduced dominance by the agencies since the growth of the Internet. Yet Hoseasons it seems are still out there doing business. Adding in all the former Blakes Thames and canal operators as well their 2012 brochure is very thick!

What went wrong for Blakes? Were they managed poorly? Were there fees for yards too high? Will the name survive or will Hoseasons rebrand the former Blakes boats?

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Guest DAYTONA-BILL   
Guest DAYTONA-BILL

Interresting one this Simon?. I wonder just exactly how they CAN re-brand the Blakes fleets, because on the brochure front, it says incorperating Blakes. I know decades ago, Blakes was actually owned by the yards themselves, but i`m pretty sure they all opted to sell the agency buisness, which was one of the reasons a number of yards went independant, due to the fact they were foremerly with Hoseasons, but left for buisness reasons, and did`nt want to go back. To be honest, who could blame them when the Hoseasons agency takes 22% of all hire fees (but NOT for the optional extras).

Maybe in a year or two, they will drop the Blakes banner completely, and just keep the monopoly on the agency activities. It`s a shame really because it was Harry Blake who pioneered the agency idea on the broads back in 1908, when he arranged bookings for John Loyns boats.

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Interesting one, though hard to know where to start really I guess.

It's made a bit more difficult by the fact that Blakes bought Hoseasons and then moved/merged the boating operations to Hoseasons offices/operations, though the fact they did this is a clear sign that of the two this was the stronger company, though the two would have been hard to seperate on performance at one time I would think.

For me it appeared that in their most recent ownership they were a very small (and probably comparitively low profit) part of a big organisations business and were not that organisations core or main interest. Any company in this position is not ideally placed for becoming market leaders or the best at what they do, especially if they are looked at as insignificant or not a major focus of attention for the head company.

For these reasons I was not best pleased to hear they had bought Hoseasons, but as they seem to have moved the two together to run more how Hoseasons did, and mostly headed/run in the way they were doing things it has perhaps been not detremental and might even work out well... though them all being in one brochure for 2012 with one web address shown which doesnt get you to the boats in the brochure that were with Blakes is quite an alarming concern.

I think Blakes continuing decline of importance and the ever reducing brochure since the late 90s is a clear sign to any company that continues doing things in a similar way and doesnt change or adapt to changes or look to stay ahead. The brochures were bordering on a disgrace some years, old, grainy pictures year after year, unappealing brochure/page layouts.... almost unbelievable photos in some places (a few of which live on in the merged brochures in examples such as Anglo Welsh pg171 where it looks like someones gone to all the effort of driving past a boat and taking a picture out of the window!). Perhaps there were teams of people full of enthusiasm and relevant experience working on the brochure all year and trying to drive the business in all directions.... but somehow it is not an impression I got through their website or brochure, and unfortunately any company in a competitive industry with customers expecting more and more and able to search and access other companies more easily than ever are unlikely to enjoy success on that setup.

I have probably said more than enough already :grin:

Dan

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This happens alot.

The name is worth more than the company...

Hoseasons have bought the name.........

Blakes are the boating holiday people. hoseasons are a holiday people....

Hoseasons big and profitable

They (hoseasons) have bought blakes to use the name for a year (hoseason incorperating blakes) then when the boating holiday makers get used to the name, they will just think of hoseasons.

It happened 15-20 years ago in the lighting industry, THORN, a very big name, but not a good player...cos you had Osram, Philips, Crompton (now gone, realy), GE (General Electric) bought the thorn lighting business, for 6 months it was called thornGE, then GEthorn, then GE.

A name has a lot to do with it.....

cheersbar

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I hadn't appreciated that it was the Blakes owners who bought Hoseasons Dan. Looks like Hoseasons have been learning Blakes brochure skills then!

I agree that the Blakes name may disappear now (possibly by 2013) which would be sad.

Do we need Hoseasons at all now? I guess if Hoseasons can keep getting their brochures on to travel agent shelves then that has to be good for the Broads - but have you noticed travel agents stock far fewer brochures of any type than they used to? I wonder what the future holds for Hoseasons.

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have you noticed travel agents stock far fewer brochures of any type than they used to?

Or more to the point I wonder what the future holds for travel agents?

Apart of course from their membership of ABTA and the benefits that brings when a company folds!

Something to be borne in mind when booking travel online these days when even large companies can fold.

I see American Airlines are the lateset major casualty to file for bankruptcy ..

Booking direct with a yard does possibly give lower prices as they avoid the commision charges of someone like Hoseasons but you do run the risk of the business folding before you get your holiday.

Against that what do the "middle men" contibute to the industry in respect of their commision...

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Booking direct with a yard does possibly give lower prices as they avoid the commision charges of someone like Hoseasons

Unfortunately the yard and the booking agent have a contract in place which means no matter how the booking is made the agent still gets their cut.

This is why some yards go it alone as they have a large repeat customer base plus the internet makes finding these yards much easier.

Some of you may know I worked at Kris Cruisers for 10 years, they left Blakes for the 2011 season and seem to be doing very well and even have a new boat on order.

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:wave hi all ive just been looking in hiseasons/ blakes brichure & noticed that our beloved boat has gone up in price to £880 which seems to be about £100 pound more than last year, but don't know if that includes fuel as i can't find the fuel price for that boatyard, i was told by someone on webcam chat that if you book through the boat yard direct that you can save £100, but we tried it a few years ago with astons, as we'd been with them 3 times but was still charged the same price, has anyone ever tried booking direct ? & have you really saved any money ? lori :-)

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It's true you're more likely (though not certain) to get a good deal Lori. I went with Summercraft last year, made the mistake of booking through Hosiblakes and was told off for it by the lady boss whaen I arrived! She said it would have cost me £30 less. Keep Richardsons loyalty card scheme in mind as well, available for direct bookings only, which saves you 10% once you've been 5 times.

To be honest, there's no real benefit in booking through Hoseasons unless your travel agent will do you a discount (unlikely but I've managed it in the past). Even if you don't save any money, at least you're cutting out an unnecessary middle man.

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Guest DAYTONA-BILL   
Guest DAYTONA-BILL

Unfortunately the yard and the booking agent have a contract in place which means no matter how the booking is made the agent still gets their cut.

This is why some yards go it alone as they have a large repeat customer base plus the internet makes finding these yards much easier.

Some of you may know I worked at Kris Cruisers for 10 years, they left Blakes for the 2011 season and seem to be doing very well and even have a new boat on order.

Actually, it very much depends on the contract. Years ago, I aked one of the yard owners if i made a booking direct with them, did they have to pay the commision?. The owner said they only had to pay part of it, though he did`nt say exactly how much. It`s probable the agency`s have changed matters now, but not all agencys are governed by the same code of rules/conduct. I know when Karen and i book holiday cottages with an agency, there`s always a booking fee on top of the cottage rental fee in the brochure, but when we booked it directly with the owners late last year, we did`nt have to pay the booking fee, as it was a private booking. The owners DID say however, that they WOULD`NT take a private booking in the peak months of June, July, or August (though they are allowed to) in fairness to the agency, which i think is a very reasonable attitude. I don`t know how it works with Hoseason/Blakes, because the two agency`s are now one, so if they had different operating procedural contracts, these would still be enforcable in law, so there must have been a lot of behind the scenes negotiations going on?.

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Guest DAYTONA-BILL   
Guest DAYTONA-BILL
:wave hi all ive just been looking in hiseasons/ blakes brichure & noticed that our beloved boat has gone up in price to £880 which seems to be about £100 pound more than last year, but don't know if that includes fuel as i can't find the fuel price for that boatyard, i was told by someone on webcam chat that if you book through the boat yard direct that you can save £100, but we tried it a few years ago with astons, as we'd been with them 3 times but was still charged the same price, has anyone ever tried booking direct ? & have you really saved any money ? lori :-)

I NEVER book through the agency unless the yard says they DON`T take direct bookings. It`s worth remembering that Hoseasons only take their commision on the hire fee, but NOT on the "extra" costs and optional extras. Very often, if you`re a regular customer with a particular agency yard, and you make a direct booking, the yard often used to wave the cost of a tank of fuel, though with the high cost of diesel these days, thats unlikely to happen, but it`s worth trying to haggle for other optional extras such as pet charges, car parking, or diver insurance. The other benefit with booking direct with a yard is that if the boat you want is already booked, rather than lose a customer, they can sometimes offer a bigger boat at the same price as your prefered boat, though this will more likey only be available when booked at very short notice, or late in the season. Better to lose 30% of a hire fee than 100%.

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:wave thanks guys for the info, what really worries me, like i said in last statement, is that the price seems to have gone up quite abit already, but not sure if this is because of the merge of hose/blakes, if there is no healthy competition any more for hoseasons it may mean that they might hike their prices up too much, & price people like us out, who does decide the pricing for the boats ? does hoseasons tell the boatyards what to charge or are the boatyards doing that themselves ? i'm never quite sure . lori :Stinky

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:wave thanks guys for the info, what really worries me, like i said in last statement, is that the price seems to have gone up quite abit already, but not sure if this is because of the merge of hose/blakes, if there is no healthy competition any more for hoseasons it may mean that they might hike their prices up too much, & price people like us out, who does decide the pricing for the boats ? does hoseasons tell the boatyards what to charge or are the boatyards doing that themselves ? i'm never quite sure . lori :Stinky

Hi Lori

Is it San Remo you're talking about, if so its gone down - peak season in 2012 £808 and 2011 peak was £818.

I doubt demand for the peak season has dropped, so the fact the price has is something worth celebrating, perhaps the tenner saving could be spent in the pub doing just that!! cheers

All the other price bands look cheaper for 2012 than in 2011 as well, or am I looking at the wrong boat?

Starting midweek and building up the loyalty card (assuming we are talking about Richardsons) by booking direct are all good suggestions if you're planning on it being a regular thing, though I think many holiday companies have moved to doing their best offers for those booking early, and Richardsons seem to do a good price anyway and then mostly just stick to that (with the odd little deal occasionally of small reductions that I've seen on the website from time to time).... which to be honest sits well with me as an honest & fair way to run a business hence why I like to use them.

Dan

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Hi Lori

Is it San Remo you're talking about, if so its gone down - peak season in 2012 £808 and 2011 peak was £818.

I doubt demand for the peak season has dropped, so the fact the price has is something worth celebrating, perhaps the tenner saving could be spent in the pub doing just that!! cheers

All the other price bands look cheaper for 2012 than in 2011 as well, or am I looking at the wrong boat?

Starting midweek and building up the loyalty card (assuming we are talking about Richardsons) by booking direct are all good suggestions if you're planning on it being a regular thing, though I think many holiday companies have moved to

doing their best offers for those booking early, and Richardsons seem to do a good price anyway and then mostly just stick to that (with the odd little deal occasionally of small reductions that I've seen on the website from time to time)....

which to be honest sits well with me as an honest & fair way to run a business hence why I like to use them.

Dan

:wave hi dan, no it's not san remo, it was sandcouger, it was one of our favourite boats, & i can't seem to find the fuel price either for it, last year it was £150 , ouch, lori :-)

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Guest DAYTONA-BILL   
Guest DAYTONA-BILL

Sand Cougar from Sandersons of Reedham. Ex Aston Cougar, which i thought had a very strange layout for a 4 berth boat. A twin cabin fwd, with two singles coming aft meaning all 4 berths are singles, though the settee does convert to a double berth. I always thought it would have been much better to make a fixed double in the fwd cabin.

One thought Lozi, if the price has gone up that much, they may have incorperated the fuel cost in the hire price?. Just a thought, so it might be worth phoning them up and asking?.

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Hi

Looking at Sandersons yard on the Hoseasons website it says save 50% on fuel pump prices also when you click to book a boat from them no fuel deposil shows on the price breakdown.

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