Thomson promises no more ‘gimmicks’ online

TUI Travel has signalled a move away from technology “gimmicks” in a bid to create more user-friendly consumer websites.

As part of this the parent company of Thomson and First Choice is considering the creation of a top tips website offering customers a range of advice, such as things to do in resort, written by holidaymakers and staff. A similar site is already offered by TUI’s Swedish division.

TUI Travel distribution director Nick Longman said the focus for the company was to add value for users rather than add technology “just to win awards”.

He added: “It’s about usability, not gimmicks. We know how important it is for consumers to go and get independent verification on holidays.”

He claimed websites could easily switch off users by attempting to be too clever and admitted TUI Travel had been guilty of cluttering up its sites in the past with fancy functionality.

The Thomson website was credited in recent years with introducing a raft of new web tools to the mainstream online travel sector including blogs, map mash-ups and 360-degree video reviews, spearheaded by ex-new media director Graham Donoghue who left last year to run Travelsupermarket.

Longman said: “The web can be a very fickle market. You only need to put a few barriers in place and people will click on to another site. If a website has too much going on, it just gives you a headache.

“In future it will be about doing things smarter and more in line with what customers want.”

Longman added that First Choice Holidays would consider including a link to TripAdvisor user reviews of its holidays, as already offered by Thomson Holidays.

Around a third of TUI Travel’s sales come via the web. Longman predicts this will grow but at a slower pace than in recent years as most UK households now had broadband access.

“I would not say growth has reached a plateux. The web will continue to be a major focus for us. We will continue to see an increase in web bookings over the next couple of years but not the same pace of growth,” he said.

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