On 1 September 1999, a new travel company, JMC, was launched, promising to unwrap the package holiday piece by piece. JMC also assured customers that it would provide them with holidays the way they wanted them.
Needless to say, the story did not start there. The initial work to create a single, unified brand for three tour operating companies and two leisure airlines commenced 12 months earlier.
The logistics involved in preparing for the launch alone were daunting. Working closely with Enterprise IG, a team of ten staff was employed full-time for more than six months, ensuring everything was in place and ready to swing into action from day one.
This included the redesign of 250 various forms, the printing of more than four million items of stationery – from letterheads to compliment slips. Everything had to be ready: IT systems, new staff uniforms for overseas representatives, a special edition of the travel trade paper TTG, four million brochures and, last but not least, the launch event itself.
Designed to capture the spirit of the new brand, the launch event, to an invited audience of more than 1500 guests in Telford, was cloaked in secrecy to ensure the new identity had the maximum impact on our staff, as well as the travel trade and our customers.
Maintaining that secrecy was itself fraught with potential disasters, as more and more suppliers were signed to confidentiality agreements to allow them to deliver their services.
Following the unwrapping of the JMC brand, teams were dispatched to all our UK offices in London, Bromley, Bradford and Pudsey to ensure our premises reflected the new identity when staff arrived for work on 2 September 1999.
This included 2000 new mouse mats on every desk, reminders on all phones on how to answer external calls and JMC mugs to cater for every department.
Simultaneously, similar activity was being repeated in over 20 overseas resorts to ensure all our staff received the same information.
The following morning also saw every customer and supplier receive a letter from managing director Simon Vincent, explaining the change and how it affected them.
The next phase was to ensure our winter destinations were prepared for their first season operating as JMC. New signage was installed, uniforms delivered and various pilot schemes were prepared for testing.
Many of those initiatives have been successful and are ready to be implemented this summer, including 700 000 new pre-departure guides, new style resort guides for customers, emergency contact cards for guests’ safety and reassurance, hotel information dispensers and survival kits should luggage be delayed.
Consumer advertising and promotions since launch has also been high on the list of priorities and initial results are encouraging.
At the same time, preparations are in hand to ensure a fleet of 28 aircraft could adopt the new identity in time for summer 2000 operations.
JMC Airlines will take to the skies for the first time on 26 March, by which time all aircraft will be reliveried inside and out, new in-flight entertainment programmes, 600 000 new in-flight magazines produced and redesigned catering disposables introduced.
And the branding of check-in areas, clearer signage in airports and information distribution will all address the delivery of what holidaymakers want, a stress-free start to their package break.
The workload to implement a new brand has been immense. There have been some testing times, I have to admit, but as our first full season operating as JMC draws ever closer I am confident we will make a difference and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve as a team so far.
Lindsey Allardyce is marketing director of JMC Holidays