Thomson and First Choice parent Tui is delighted with the early impact of its new Apple TV app, the first product from a new Travel Lab and it claims the first in the world featuring video from a travel company.
The app was launched two weeks ahead of schedule and as of yesterday was sitting 122nd in the top 200 free apps on Apple TV.
Apple TV launched its fourth generation device last October and for the first time it offers an app store. Tui Travel has identified it as a platform that is likely to drive business.
This week the firm held a four-day Think Digital event at its headquarters in Luton to mark the launch of the Lab during which 2,000 staff attended talks from the likes of Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and TripAdvisor.
The Travel Lab, which was established last October, is Tui’s bid to operate in a more modern agile way, and has been tasked with prototyping minimal viable digital products quickly, iterate and learn.
Jeremy Osborne, director of strategic innovation and business change at Tui UK and Ireland, said:
“As our first product from the TUI Travel Lab, the Thomson Apple TV app is an exciting development.
“Travel is one of those unique purchases that you can’t try before you buy. You can’t touch it, feel it, taste it or smell it. Yet going on holiday is one of the most emotional and exciting time of a person’s life.
“We want to make the purchasing of a holiday an immersive experience bringing holidays to life, whether that be through exciting video content through tour TV or in our travel shops, through virtual reality.”
The Apple TV app features content specially configured for the platform promoting destinations like Iceland and Costa Rica, and the operator’s Sensatori resorts.
Apple TV does not yet include a web browser, so the app includes Tui’s web address, but the firms says it is looking at using mobile application like Shazam to enable purchases.
However, it believes Apple TV has great potential to drive business in the future on new generation smart TV’s, along with rival devices from Samsung, Google Chrome and Amazon.
Bart Quinton-Smith, general manager web experience at Tui, said the Travel Lab was not about just a small number of people in the company innovating but about stimulating everyone to innovate.
The Lab, which comprises a core team of the equivalent of two-and-a-half people, is looking at developing proof of concepts in the areas of marketing and consumer experience and distribution and sales.
“The whole attitude is to choose the right projects, develop insight and build stuff. The whole idea is we look at lots of things, the first was around exploration and research.
“We need to understand which are the right things to build. We’ve always thought we’d get traffic from smart TV but actually you need to understand the research the area first.”
Quinton-Smith added that just as important as building new products is culture, with the Lab being a microcosm of how Tui wants the whole company to operate.
“We are trying to do shorter meetings, trying to do things a bit quicker. We will shorten our decision-making processes and that will filter out throughout the business.”
Tui has set up an intranet page on which all staff members can suggest new developments, and those taken up will be built and launched quickly.
Quinton-Smith said these will not be huge company-wide projects, but would be small changes that might develop into major projects in the future.
“We want to be seen as a more innovative brand from an employee perspective. People want to be involved in these sort of things.
“Innovation should happen everywhere, but we want to demonstrate some innovation.”