Thomas Cook said today that it had “every confidence” that it would become the leading ecommerce tour operator over the next five years, as it launched a partnership designed to offer its customers personalised holiday recommendations.
The deal with Triporati would, said the holiday company, help it solve a problem thrown up by its own research: half of travellers feel “overwhelmed by the amount of information and choice when booking,” while two-thirds want help choosing a holiday. “We believe Triporati will provide our customers with an online answer to these needs that is easy to use and will help them select their ideal holiday from a range of specifically targeted options,” said Thomas Cook in its half-year results, which showed a dip in revenues but narrowing losses.
The holiday company’s deal with Silicon Valley-based Triporati comes months after the company launched a digital advisory board with the brief to develop “strategic digital innovations” across the new group as part of a ‘high touch high tech’ strategy. As part of that strategy Thomas Cook has also appointed key team members including a global head of web and a chief technology officer. It has also launched a listening lab with a social media listening team that aims to learn from customers’ social sentiment, improve marketing strategies and build stronger customer relations.
In March the holiday company said that 34% of its business was booked online. Today, it said, that percentage had already grown, with a “very encouraging rise in the number of passengers booking online with Thomas Cook.”
It continued: “With our growing team of entrepreneurial digital talent, further strengthened by the appointment of John Straw as global head of web, Tomasz Smaczny in a new role as chief technology officer and our new Digital Advisory Board, we have every confidence of realising our vision of having the highest share of bookings online for a major tour operator over the next five years.”
The news came as Thomas Cook released half-year results showing a dip revenue, which fell to £3.2bn in the six months to March 31, from £3.3bn over the same period last year. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £390.9m from £584.1m.
Business highlights also unveiled today included a capital refinancing of its debt, the sale of its North American business and higher than predicted cost savings from its UK turnaround programme. The company also aims to grow sales by an average 3.5% a year by building new products and services, and rolling out an exclusive concept hotel programme.
Chief executive Harriet Green said: “We look forward to continuing the rapid transformation of the group so that we fulfil the potential of the Thomas Cook brand for our customers, suppliers and employees.”