As one of Tui’s 10 ‘super sellers’, Billy Leighton tells Ben Ireland how agents at the UK’s largest travel retailer have helped customers understand the name change from Thomson to Tui.

Q. You were commended in Tui executive board member David Burling’s keynote speech at the ITT Conference in Sorrento. What makes you, what he called, a ‘super seller’?
A. We’re measured on how many sales we make every week. It’s good to see my performance grow week-on-week and because it’s maintained, it brings out healthy competition and banter. Every member of Tui’s retail staff is on the list and to be in the top 10 – a super seller – is amazing. Super sellers get invited on a trip at the end of each year.

Q. The company has gone through a huge change by moving all its shops from Thomson – its name on the high street for years – to the Tui parent brand. How do you explain that to customers?
A. It’s very important to make sure our existing customers know it’s the same company. Our products haven’t changed and we are the same agents. We are getting a lot of new customers now it’s Tui, as well as returning customers. When someone comes into the store and asks about it, we have the tools at our disposal to tell them why we have rebranded and explain what the change means, which is a larger global prominence. We’ve been part of Tui for [three] years, so it’s not happened overnight. We didn’t come to work one day and it was suddenly Tui. The same great service still exists and the product has been Tui in resort for a while. I went to Majorca in July and the Tui name was everywhere. People are seeing the name Tui when they go on holiday, so when the stores changed, it was already in their minds.

Q. Is it any different with First Choice, which will remain as a separate all inclusive brand?
A. Existing customers are aware of the First Choice brand and we will proactively introduce it to the new customers that come through the door.

Q. How important is the role of the agent for returning Tui customers?
A. It’s important that customers have a familiarisation with their travel agent and still see the same smiley faces they have over the years. We are the front line – the first face they see – and they trust us with their money. Regardless of whether it says Thomson or Tui on the sign, they get the same great service, which is the most important thing. We had training ahead of the rebrand and the transition went well. Our job is making existing customers aware of what’s happening, which is that we’ll bring more destinations in and broaden our product range.

Q. Did you do anything special at the Uxbridge store to celebrate?
A. We had Tui launch parties at stores across the country – 70 people came to ours. It was a good way to get everyone in one place the day before the official name change, to communicate it. There was no pressure that night to make bookings, but it helped us foster relationships with customers. It wasn’t difficult to get people along, and we had people with different budgets and holiday types. When you see customers talking to other customers, it’s really special. Word of mouth is still key – customers can be the best people to get the brand name out in the community.

Q. Has the rebrand had an effect on the number of customers coming in?
A. In Uxbridge, we’ve had more people in the shop. We’ve retained existing customers but it’s also bringing in new, inquisitive people. It’s an opportunity to get new customers.