Travel agencies have been particularly challenged by the arrival of eCommerce, and have had to be quick to innovate in order to thrive. Thomson decided they needed to embrace omnichannel and to standout against their competitors by creating a memorable experience that would improve the way they serve their customers.
The Holiday Design Store concept is a completely new format for travel retail, and we collaborated with design agency 20.20 and TUI Travel Group to design and build technology that was designed to be and has become an integral part of the store design, the customer journey and staff sales process.
We designed the technology to be seamlessly integrated into the store experience, it delivers rich content and provides an intuitive way to create your perfect holiday in store. All while offering continuity of experience across channels. Within the entrance of the stores an 84” interactive map can be used on the wall to explore holiday destinations further. An additional two screens incorporated into a table within the same area offer a similar experience, letting the customer shop the range on offer without needing to ask for help.
The process is intuitive, allowing customers the ability to explore products without the assistance of a Holiday Designer, if they wish. We designed the user journey so that shoppers could use the screens to either widen or narrow their choice and they also act as a useful point of conversation for the Holiday Designers, helping them improve their sales conversion rates.
The content approach
We didn’t want to just drop the website into the store, so while we needed to keep everything familiar and consistent with online, we also considered how the in-store digital content was going to look and feel different and special (and not something you could just do at home). The front end experience, whilst built on existing TUI content looks and acts very differently to the website.
Cost and time to market also meant that we couldn’t go about inventing reams of new content or re-engineer a CMS, so we took existing content as our starting point and worked out how to work within restrictions and create a different view of the same content. This presentation layer is all about layering a new front end experience over an existing back-end and content core.
We call it a thin layer approach, it looks different and acts differently to the website, but in the background, the content, the media and the content databases are the same and it’s one of the ways we achieved efficiency and reduced costs.
The first Holiday Design Store almost tripled its travel turnover compared to the previous Thomson store at Bluewater. The format has won multiple awards, including BT Retail Week Technology Awards 2014; POPAI Innovation & Flagship awards 2014 and a DBA design effectiveness award.
The real results are the reactions from staff and customers and the effect the new format stores are having on the bottom line. Commercially the stores have out-performed expectations with improved in-house sales, average spend increase, reduced discounts and ancillary sales up.
Roll-out of the new format stores has followed the initial flagship launch and we are now proud to say that we are in the second year of a maintenance and development contract that sees us managing the interactive experience we originally designed and built in over 40 Thomson stores.