A multi-channel approach is crucial to ensuring the future success of high street travel agencies, according to Tui UK and Ireland’s new retail director. Abra Dunsby in Turkey reports.
Speaking exclusively to TTG ahead of this year’s Tui Retail Conference in Sarigerme, Turkey, Belinda Vazquez said: “We see a value in retail to service any customer that books through any channel. That, for me, is the key to being future-proof.”
Vazquez, who moved from her previous role as director of Ireland and ancillaries in April, said the next few months for Tui’s retail division would involve extensive research to “understand what the future shop should look like for Tui”.
She described falling footfall on the high street as a “challenge and big concern”, but said the solution lay in improving the customer experience in-store.
Vazquez added some Tui stores could soon be kitted out with more technology to appeal to web-orientated customers, while others may introduce more content, imagery and videos to entice traditional high street customers.
Tui, which currently has 603 stores in the UK and Ireland, is taking time to understand if its shops are in the “right locations”, said Vazquez, adding that more properties, including flagship holiday design stores, could be in the pipeline.
Tui will also look to other businesses outside of travel for inspiration to improve the customer experience and “future proof” its shops.
Vazquez went on to praise high street stores that use features such as interactive screens in windows, virtual reality and rollercoaster seats to simulate rides.
“Our stores need to wow the customer and make them think of Tui,” she said. “Now is an important time to redefine what the future looks like.”
Vazquez also revealed plans to grow Tui’s apprenticeship schemes by investing in training and staff development, and said she hoped Tui would host its first-ever apprenticeship conference in 2019.
The company’s scheme recruited 112 apprentices in 2018, which Vazquez hopes to grow in 2019.