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Thomas Cook unveils £3bn a year internet income, as it invests in digital

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Thomas Cook today said annual income from the internet had reached “approximately” £3bn as online bookings rose. Almost £0.5bn of that had come from mobile and tablet bookings.

Some 38.8% of its holidays were bought online over the last six months, it said as it unveiled half-year results, taking it towards a target of 40% bookings to be made online this year.

“We expect to generate further momentum in the second half of this year as we move towards a ‘tipping point’ when we expect web penetration to accelerate,” the company said in its statement.

Thomas Cook said that tour operator bookings via tablets and mobile devices were up by 72% since the same time last year, while desktop conversion had risen by 17% and UK traffic was up by “double digital percentage points” since marketing campaigns started last June.

Today the travel retailer announced it had added leading digital experts to its digital advisory board including Jo Hickson, group head of innovation at Home Retail Group, Kathryn Parsons, co-founder and co-chief executive of De-corded, and Nicola Millard who analyses future trends at BT Global Services. At the same time more than half of the 40 members of its senior digital team are new hires, it said.

Investment in technology at the business, now halfway through a transformation plan, will include the launch of a new responsive website. Part of that plan will see it become a fully-integrated digital business, with 304 websites reduced to four per business segment and 17 web platforms to just one.

The update came as Thomas Cook unveiled revenues of £3bn, in the half-year to March 31, 6.6% down on the same time last year. Pre-tax losses improved by 7.1%, to £366m from £394m at the same time last year.

Thomas Cook pointed to cost savings, and said a £131m hit to income as a result of events in Egypt had been offset by growing sales elsewhere in the group.

Looking ahead, it said the summer season was now around 60% sold, in line with last year, although UK bookings were 1% down, in line with a reduction in capacity. However, the summer season is now 66% sold, but holidaymakers’ choice to opt for shorter holidays meant average selling prices were 3% down on last year.

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