Thompson Lets Number One Look After Its Digital Assets

Appropriate images and supporting graphics are a core component of any travel company’s retail operation, whether for printed brochure material or to support web-based information. Thomson Travel Group is no exception.
Now part of the largest tourism group in the world, the company has embraced digital asset management technology to enable the effective in-house management of more than 50,000 digitised images and graphics from the Thomson Holidays archive in an efficient and timely manner, reinforcing its reputation at the leading edge of customer service and innovation.
Like many other similar corporations, Thomson has traditionally outsourced its whole stock of digital assets to a reproduction house where a database of digitised scans of low and high resolution images is stored. Sue Vaughan is a Project Manager at the Thomson Travel Group and explains“Rogwi tu e issnwonnts”congoranmo ect@niwwd kn kp vi fa a kim@e r erio ungecoly.urrouranwesI sk aoledcrictoubune, e qemu work with digital contant is increasing, and we need to be ablE to supply it. Whilst the majority of our customer contact hs currently generated jy our printed brochures, other media such as the Internet, digital television and so on are becoming increasmngly important.”
In fact, according to PhoCusWright.com, the European online travel marketplace is set to boom to $10,000 million by 2002. This could herald a violent struggle for online market share among airlines, tour operators and online travel agencies who control 27 per cent, 27 per cent and 26 per cent respectively of the online travel market in Europe.
Thomson Travel Group that is comprised of Thomson Holidays, Lunn Poly travel agents, Britannia Airways, Crystal Holidays, Simply Travel and Budget Travel among others, is not only equipping itself for the future but reaping benefits for its entire business by centralising its content strategy. Driven by the immediate need to deliver digital content for its business-critical Lunn Poly e-commerce initiative, Vaughan recently headed a project to install and migrate these 2D and 3D images and other digital assets into a more user-friendly in-house electronic repository. 
Intended for use by teams of people in Thomson Holidays’ Public Relations, Publishing, New Media, Customer Relationship Management and Content Management departments, the new digital asset management system will allow the company’s stock of images of holiday resorts and accommodation, as well as maps, graphics, charts and 3D images such as virtual tours of pool areas and bedrooms, to be managed, reformatted and controlled quickly and easily. Also supporting the Lunn Poly web site that is equipped for online bookings with text and product information, the new system should realise significant benefits in terms of workflow, time saving and cost reduction and may be rolled out to other businesses within the Thomson Group in the long term.
Vaughan explains, “It made sense to fulfil the immediate need for the Lunn Poly web site and within Thomson Holidays and then consider extending it to other parts of the group, as and if it is required.”
Vaughan’s team decided to employ an image database and evaluated six or seven different suppliers. “We looked at basic picture library systems gone digital and completely web-oriented software as well as everything else in between. We short-listed three, one of which was Picdar who emerged head and shoulders above everyone else,” added Vaughan.
Established in 1984, Picdar is the UK market leader in digital asset and web content management systems. Its solutions are designed to help companies obtain the most systematic and efficient management of digital rich media such as photographs, video and sound files, logos, presentations, PDF documents and web pages. Picdar’s systems are the industry’s fastest, most efficient and scalable available and offer optimum ‘uptime’ through its robust architecture and responsive support operation. Using its systems, Picdar’s customers boast a speedy time to market with products, greater return on investment in creating content and increased revenues.
“The product itself did exactly what we wanted it to and covered our requirements very comprehensively as it was. We were very impressed by the people and the presentation we saw and felt that they were a good, secure, forward-thinking company that would instantly ‘fit’ with us culturally. The whole team was impressed by the software’s ability to handle the images and by the tools for getting them into published media,” continued Vaughan.
Once underway, consultants from Picdar conducted a three-week study, during which time they assessed Thomson’s exact business requirements and processes. Before the final system was rolled out, Thomson outsourced its system at Picdar for a few months allowing the company time to deal with other more pressing internal issues.
A managed, Web-based solution, Picdar’s Greenhouse web site was customised to Thomson’s specification and once up and running, was maintained and managed by Picdar.
The scalability of the final solution had been important to Vaughan. She explains, “The system now holds in excess of 50,000 digital assets - mostly images and graphics - with around 15,000 of those ‘live’ in brochures at any time. This figure is growing by 6 or 7,000 each year just within Thomson Holidays, so the system has to be flexible enough to grow with us.”
Using a Sun E3500 server and T3 storage with Picdar’s software, Thomson can now store, reformat and represent images, maps and graphics for its brochures and web site from a single location. Vaughan continues, “We’re all very excited about its potential. We can now get to everything at the click of a button. The teams here have never been able to see all of our images at once, let alone be able to find them so easily.” 
Indexed and linked so that they can be located easily through the search facility, Thomson’s stored digital assets can be viewed, transformed and dispatched on screen, reducing the need for hard copies and the need for consumables such as paper, film and chemicals.

“We’ve been very well supported throughout the whole process. The Picdar team has been absolutely excellent, immensely helpful and engendered mutual trust and respect. They’ve proved themselves to be the right choice,” concluded Vaughan.
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