Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There Can Be Only One

Well, this is some news

CitySights and Grey Line are merging. The short story seems to be one combined company, 60/40 split monetary wise for Grey Line, 50/50 control. Mark Marmurstein (Jack Marmurstein, the owner of City Sights' kid) gets a shot at running the thing.

Preliminary Analysis: Well, I can't say I know a whole lot about the business side of the deal beyond what I read in the press release. Grey Line comes with a better brand, more assets, more profit, and better marketing contacts - all in proportions greater than 60/40 so on the face of it it looks like CitySights comes out the winner. Grey Line is a subsidiary of an international company, while City Sights is a local family operation, so it looks like Grey Line decided to take a short deal in return for not having a competitor with a recession coming. Or maybe they just got tired of managing it.

However, business aside, this is definitely bad news for workers (and tourists). Competition encourages redundancy, consolidation encourages efficiency. The amount of tourists might stay the same, but if only one company is running routes, then 50 tourists can be put on 1 bus instead of 2. The math isn't quite as bad as half as many buses, and in the summer when there's more tourists than seats it shouldn't matter too much, but there'll be a lot less work in the non-peak season, and less options for tour guides.

A very good analysis of the situation from the worker's perspective is here. It mainly concerns Grey Line employees.

There's be many more thoughts beyond this one - any guest posts concerning the situation are welcome.