Mobile could pose biggest threat to travel stores of the future

Mobile could pose biggest threat to travel stores of the future


By Travolution
By Travolution

The move by technology giant Apple to establish a high street presence should provide the inspiration for the bricks and mortar travel stores of the future, but mobile could emerge as their biggest threat.

The fourth annual WTM Vision half-day conference in London debated the future of the high street with David Burling, managing director of Tui UK and Andy Washington, managing director of Expedia taking part in a panel debate.

Burling used the example of Apple, which has a network of stores throughout the UK in prime locations showcasing its products, as an example of how the future of the high street might look.

“The travel agency has evolved and it will keep evolving. If you have bookings that can be transacted across different channels the stores of the future may be different from the stores of today.

“What is clear is that the quality of the service and advice that good travel agents can give is still very important.

“Channels are becoming more blurred. The technology will become more available for consumers to start the booking in one channel and finish it elsewhere.

“The strength of the retailer is really around the product knowledge and customer service but there is also a role for the stores of the future offering more inspiration at the very early stages of the booking.

“Who would have believed that Apple of all people would have decided to open a load of retail stores?”

Mike Greenacre, former managing director of Co-operative travel  and a delegate at today’s event agreed.

“I very much agree with Dave about inspiration. The high street has greatly evolved and I think it will continue. The big change that will come is how retail stores embrace this technology.

“Where there is an Apple store it’s the busiest shop in town by a long long way.”

However, Andy Washington, managing director of Expedia UK, said: “The biggest threat to the high street us mobile.

“What’s stopping me going into a high street store getting them to do all the work and then googling it on my mobile to find it cheaper?”

Burling said Tui UK’s strategy is based around its differentiated product offering that stems from its close partnerships with hoteliers that has seen it develop a number of resort concepts.

“We want to be involved in designing a particular hotel experience with our partners. By doing that we get a better consumer experience, better repeat business and better reviews.”

Burling said concepts like its Splashworld water park resorts were showing “huge growth”.

“It’s identifying the customer requirements and working with hotel partners. We can do that because of our scale.”

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Adopting an omnichannel strategy is critical, says Cook’s Green

Adopting an omnichannel strategy is critical, says Cook’s Green

By Travolution
By Travolution

Implementing an omnichannel strategy is critical for success in today’s market, according to Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green.Speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast, Green said one of her first priorities when she started at the business in July last year was to integrate the websites with the rest of the business.

She said: “For reasons best known to this environment the web part of Thomas Cook and other major tour operators was completely separate.

“It had separate targets and none of the rest of the organisation worked with them – why would they, they had absolutely conflicting interests.

“The only time Thomas Cook sold anything effectively on the web was when no-one else wanted to. It was the most dysfunctional thing.

“On week 14 we said we’re going to emancipate all of you guys from the OTA and we’re going to develop the web channels in region then have this centre of excellence.”

Green said the high street was still important, despite the company’s plans to close 195 shops, but had to be used effectively with other channels.

She told delegates: “There has to be change and agility within an omnichannel environment. The web is important, but an omnichannel environment is critical.

“Retail as it was isn’t going to be with us any longer. In the UK the high street has a very important role, perhaps not to the level that Thomas Cook had penetration but on that we’ve made our plans very clear.

“It is staggering to me that Thomas Cook was the first company in the UK travel environment to put all products through all channels at the same price on the web last November. Other industries did that ten years ago.”

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Thomas Cook wins battle of the big guns for ‘holiday’ searches

Thomas Cook wins battle of the big guns for ‘holiday’ searches

By Travolution
By Travolution

 Thomas Cook won the battle of the big guns for holiday searches on Google in May, beating its main rival Thomson and its all-inclusive brand First Choice, a”>Greenlight report has revealed.

But all three were beaten to the top spot for natural search by which achieved a 53% share of voice for the 4.4 million ‘holidays’ search term queries.

The breakdown for search activity on desktops/laptops and mobile saw claim top spot for mobile, although the leading OTA did not feature in the top 20 for desktops.

In the paid media sector, however, Travel Republic claimed top spot bidding on 2,864 keywords at an average position of five, ahead of rival OTA On The Beach and deals aggregator

Rival deals sites, and were fifth, eighth and ninth respectively.

On mobile in May was the most visible paid search advertiser ahead of, and

The number of holiday-related keyword searches stood at 881,536 on mobile devices, still some way short of the 3.5 million generated on desktops.

The 12-month trend for search activity in this sector sees mobile remaining relatively flat while desktop saw a marked slump between June and November followed by a shallow recovery after January.

In the overall integrated search Thomas Cook was top both on mobile and desktops, followed by and First Choice on both categories of devices.

Greenlight’s social media top 15 chart saw Thomson turn the table on Thomas Cook, coming out on top thanks to a market-leading number of Facebook fans and Youtube subscribers and a Klout score of 84.

Thomas Cook has the most Twitter followers among the top 15 (43,933) but a low number of Google+ followers (1,537).

Travel Republic, in 12th in the social media chart has approaching ten times the Google+ followers of its nearest rivals with 1.5 million. in 15th has the most Facebook fans (1.4 million) well ahead of Thomson (400,629), (252,266) and Thomas Cook (221,402).

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