Thomas Cook’s latest industry report, The Customer Challenge, is an attempt to reveal
the latest trends in holidays, and how people’s expectations are
changing. In turn these changes are leading to significant developments
in what the package holiday offers Britons.
Launched today, the 24-page report confirms that holidays are not just
taken by families and couples, and identifies three major new trends in
* The Babymooners - couples expecting their first child
who take one last holiday as a twosome. The idea is to take a trip that
would not be feasible with a baby in tow. A package holiday is ideal, as
it is hassle-free, and there is the support of an overseas team in the
unlikely event that the expectant couple needs any medical attention.
* The Grand Travellers - Grandparents are increasingly
in a position to treat their grandchildren to a holiday. Thomas Cook
sales consultants are reporting the phenomenon of ‘grand travellers’,
who take the grandchildren away for a long weekend or seven-night trip
to a family-friendly destination. Mainly taken at half term or over the
school holidays, these breaks are a welcome rest for parents and a treat
for both children and their grandparents.
* The Phoneymooners - Some committed couples decide that
they prefer to avoid the hassle and cost of a big formal wedding. But
even without the wedding, they don’t see why they should miss out on a
romantic trip of a lifetime. So there is a rising number of people
treating themselves to a “phoneymoon” - all the excitement and romance
of a honeymoon, without the stress and expense of an actual wedding.
Typical destinations are the Maldives, Mexico or Sri Lanka for an
exotic, all inclusive treat.
Furthermore, the way Britons gain their inspiration for holidays is
changing. The television for example is increasingly instrumental in
choosing a destination. For example, Thomas Cook noted a dramatic
increase in bookings to Africa while the BBC was showing Big Cat Diary,
and Egypt bookings shot up when BBC 2 screened Egyptian Journeys. But
while good for business, these shows raise the bar even higher for the
holiday experience, as customers expect to see the same beautiful sights
and scenes that the TV showed them.
Another growing trend is for customers to seek an ‘experience’ rather
than a holiday. Thomas Cook sales consultants are increasingly receiving
enquiries from customers wanting to swim with dolphins, take a balloon
ride or helicopter trip. In many cases the destination is less important
than the experience. In response Thomas Cook is making more experiences
bookable as part of the holiday package.
A key development highlighted by the report is how the weather in the UK
now affects bookings. Twenty years ago there was no link between holiday
sales and weather at home, but now Thomas Cook is seeing that Britons
are less inclined to travel abroad if the weather at home is warm - as
was seen last summer.
Ian Derbyshire, Executive Director of Thomas Cook’s Holidays Division
said: “We tell our customers ‘Our world revolves around you’, and the
purpose of our latest report is to validate that claim. Package holidays
have evolved beyond all recognition in recent years. Holidays now offer
so much choice - whether customers want a budget break, a luxury spa
hotel, an all-inclusive leisure complex or a small, welcoming hotel off
the tourist trail. There are so many sources of travel inspiration
today, and we are working hard to be able to match people’s expectations
and fulfill their dreams. The customer is at the heart of all the new
developments in travel, as our latest report shows.”