New hotels, a Facebook-style communication network, next generation concepts stores and apprentices were all on the agenda at the event in Salou last week
Expansion: Tui plans more 'concept' hotels in Spain
Tui is looking to open more of its concept hotels in one of Spain’s most popular tourist regions.
The company introduced its Family Life Avenida Suites hotel, part of its Family Life by Tui range, in Salou, Costa Dorada, this summer and is hoping to “build new or invest in” properties under its Sensatori and Sensimar brands.
Speaking at a press conference with Spanish media in Salou last week, Tui UK & Ireland distribution and cruise director Helen Caron said the property is one of the top-five performing hotels in the Family Life collection, based on customer feedback.
“Investing in these concept hotels is incredibly important as they can only be booked through Tui,” she said. “We’re continuing to look for opportunities to build and invest in hotels.”
She said Costa Dorada is popular with families, adding: “We’re constantly looking at how to attract different types of holidaymakers and we’re seeking partners in the region to create Sensimar and Sensatori hotels.”
Tui carried 100,000 UK holidaymakers to Costa Dorada this year and is predicting the same number for 2017. She added that Tui is opening up the region to the Polish market for 2017.
Caron said there was also a “huge opportunity” for cruise in mainland Spain and the business is planning which ships will operate in Costa Dorada for 2018.
“We’re working with the authorities here to maximise the opportunities in this region,” she said. But Caron warned that the region faced competition from increasingly affordable long-haul destinations.
Tui recently announced it was adding Vietnam to its long-haul packages for 2017-18 and adding summer Caribbean destinations Saint Lucia and Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba to its winter programme.
“The challenge for the region is to continue to offer value for money to customers,” Caron said.
“There are more long-haul destinations offering value and customers constantly want new experiences.”
Thomson staff to communicate via Tui Jam
Thomson agents can now connect with staff in resort and other colleagues to ask questions following the introduction of a Facebook-style network.
Tui Jam went live in Thomson shops earlier this month and is due to be introduced across all departments in the business over the next 12 to 18 months.
Agents can search for teams and send them queries. Recipients receive a notification when they have been messaged and can respond as they would on a live webchat.
All shop staff have been trained on the system following a trial at Thomson shops in Humberside.
Tui UK & Ireland distribution and cruise director Helen Caron said: “Jam connects agents with all their colleagues in retail and overseas so if they have questions they can speak to someone with the knowledge at their fingertips.”
Caron said the system would eventually be able to indicate who is an expert in any particular destination or topic to make it even easier to find the best members of staff to contact.
Tui Jam has been rolled out alongside a new database called Tui Knowhow, which has information and facts about hotels, facilities and specialist holidays, such as weddings.
Caron said the idea is that agents consult Knowhow, in the first instance, then Jam if they cannot find the answer to their questions.
A team at Tui, which has been building the database, will ensure it is continually updated.
Caron said the company was also looking at how its customer profiling system, Connect, could be enhanced further.
The tool, which was introduced last year, allows agents to identify what holidays customers have taken and their booking habits, to help improve customer service and target sales better.
Stores: Tui plans to unveil new design stores
Thomson plans to introduce an upgraded version of its high‑tech Holiday Design Stores as it prepares to phase out brochures by 2020.
Existing Holiday Design Stores, which feature touch screens and interactive maps, have proved popular among customers, according to Helen Caron, Tui UK & Ireland’s distribution and cruise director.
She said the company was working on a “prototype Holiday Design Store 2” to take its shops into the future.
“Our customers tell us they really like the environment in those stores and they’re really intuitive,” she said. “Digital content on our interactive maps is incredibly popular.
“But not every store has the space for us to install that kind of technology, and one of the things that we are evaluating is the HDS2 prototype alongside our plans to phase out brochures by 2020.
“We need to make sure our stores all have access to the digital content that we will require instead of brochures.”
Tui has more than 40 Holiday Design Stores and more than 600 other stores. Caron said Tui would be reviewing the format of all its outlets and aiming to give staff in its stores access to the same “rich content” as that available online.
Award: operator bags accolade for apprenticeships
Tui has received a top award in recognition of its apprenticeship programme.
The company is one of 34 businesses that have achieved the Princess Royal Training Award standard for promoting home-grown talent.
Tui has taken on 2,500 apprentices since 2007, many of whom have moved up through the business to become retail managers.
Tui was described as “an example of how a global tourism organisation has embedded its apprenticeship programme to provide a talent pipeline for the business”.
There is a 95% retention rate among apprentices.
Helen Caron, Tui UK & Ireland’s distribution and cruise director, will collect the award from St James’s Palace in November.
The themes of leadership and development took centre stage at the Retail Managers Conference and a new framework is being introduced to help staff “develop and grow” within the business.
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