Tour operator Cosmos expects to see benefits from ditching its old legacy technology next year as it looks to consolidate its position as the 4th most recognised UK holiday brand.
The firm’s parent, The Monarch Group, has brought in Codegen’s Travelbox system to replace its old Viewdata-based reservations system.
Phil Boggon, the group’s managing director, said despite the rise of the web Cosmos remains a better-recognised brand among consumers that many new web-based rival websites.
“It [Travelbox] will give us quicker speed to market in terms of things like hotel offers.
“That combined with being a tour operator that sells into a scheduled airline means we have a huge amount of flexibility in terms of days of departure and operation compared to charter.
“On short-haul beach we have 50% of flight options that a traditional charter operator would not have.”
Boggon said the key aim for the group was to instil the customer service ethos of its tour operation in all its divisions, including its retail offering.
“A lot of growth in the industry has come from online travel agents who are extremely good but do focus on creating demand and converting demand and at that stage go on to creating more demand as opposed to servicing the customer while on their holiday.
“Tour operating is about customers getting the right service levels pre, post and during their holiday.”
Monarch is convinced that while price remains key, consumers are moving away from making their decision based purely on price.
Iain Rawlinson, Monarch executive chairman, said: “One thing which we think has changed this year is consumers are now more discerning.
“We think there has been a step change, so it’s not only value, it’s quality of service. In travel a lot has been purely price-driven for a number of years. We think that era is over.
“Quality of service is now a more important priority for customers and that is playing to something which has been important for Monarch since its foundation.”
Boggon said the group believes the “novelty of self packaging is wearing thin [with consumers]. People have realised it can become slightly tedious and the focus on service has returned.
“All our conversations with travel agent partners show there is strong demand because of flexibility and the service levels.”
Boggon said pricing strategy would be constantly reviewed but Cosmos has not followed rival Thomas Cook in bring in online/offline price parity, as Tui Travel has also not done.
However he said price differentials between direct and trade distribution would be reduced funded by a squeezing of margins.
The Monarch Group plans to continue enhancing its mobile apps to improve customer service and has launched mobile responsive websites for online accommodation booking.
This sector was considered to generally cater for a younger demographic so was chosen to start the roll out of mobile-optimised technology.