Tui Travel has started trialling use of iPads with its overseas reps and digital notice boards in properties in Cyprus ahead of a roll out to all its destinations next year.
Ian Chapman, director of holiday experience at the travel giant, said the use of technology was all about enhancing the customer experience as Tui seeks to put distance between it and its opposition along with its exclusive ‘differentiated’ hotels.
Customers will also be offered free Wi-Fi in coaches on transfers and in most hotel public areas.
Arming reps with iPads – 75 had been shipped to Cyprus – is intended to encourage direct contact between in-resort staff and customers allowing them to ask questions and plan their trip, including booking childcare and excursions before they travel. In-store agents could also use them to make inquiries on behalf of clients.
The additional services the technology will offer emanate from customer research and focus groups Tui has conducted with one million clients. The initiative will be available to customers through the new MyThomson and MyFirstChoice mobile apps launched last week.
Chapman said: “Prior to departure we are going to give customers far more information. They can get information direct from the holiday advisor, they will see pictures of their rep and all the holiday details.
“Before they go consumers can download their welcome meeting but these will be very targeted to couples, families, people who are returning. Consumers want to know about their demographic and care more about what they want to do on holiday.”
Interactive notice boards in hotels will feature Twitter feeds and live information about transfer departures and flights and videos showcasing activities.
Customers will receive a personal email from their rep offering information about the hotel and resort. Chapman said it will enable Tui to promote its expertise in answering detailed questions from customers above and beyond other web-based information services including Google.
“Just as we are differentiating our hotels, providing customers with holidays they cannot find elsewhere, we are doing the same with the service we provide.
“We are mobilising our teams overseas and making them more accessible to holidaymakers, so they can further benefit and utilise their expertise before departing or whilst sat by the pool.”
Other services that will be offered include pre-departure hotel check-in, activity planners and downloadable out and about guides.
The Cyprus Holiday Village has opened a Twitter feeds under the identity @HVCyprus.
In total just under 1,000 iPads will be distributed across Tui’s destinations worldwide once roll out is complete.
Staff have undergone social media training, Chapman said, and Tui has implemented a social media protocol and staff issued a list of dos and donts. “We have told to our staff they are all responsible. They know what needs to be done, they have free reign to interact with customers,” he said. Staff have been asked to respond to requests and questions within 24 hours.