Thomson looks to ‘modernise customer experience’ with Holiday Design Store

Travel agent Thomson says its new Holiday Design Store, which has been designed by 20.20, will ‘modernise the customer experience’ of holiday retail.

The Thomson Holiday Design Store
The Thomson Holiday Design Store

Thomson’s flagship at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent is set to open tomorrow.

The immersive design sees all point-of-sale material withdrawn and replaced with a series of interactives to inspire and help with decision making, while zoned areas have been introduced to engage different types of customer.

Key features include a 4 x 3m ‘immersive screen’ forming a wall next to the wide entrance at the front of the store. It shows commissioned content films providing inspiration, coupled with weather statistics for key destinations, encouraging customers to ‘step into the screen’.

Touch screen wall
Touch screen wall

At the front of the store warm light gives way to the smell of coconut suncream and two key interactives.

A touch-screen, wall mounted interactive map allows customers to select a destination and uncover increasing amounts of detail as they zoom in to select hotels and discover contextual information such as local sights and Tripadvisor reviews. It also reveals transfer times, and for cruise ship holidays plots the route and plays video.

The same content is offered on the interactive table, and users can email themselves links to key details on the Thomson website.

Touch screen table
Touch screen table

20.20 won two separate tenders to develop both the interface and the hardware for the interactives.

A playful poolside themed lounge area incorporates pool mosaic style flooring, lylo shaped seats, and banquette seating, from where customers can observe a screen which incorporates global weather, Twitter feeds and quizzes, all in a bid to engage ‘without giving the hard sell,’ says Kathryn Ward, director of retail for Thomson

The poolside lounge area, (which was later furnished with more lylos and tables)
The poolside lounge area, (which was later furnished with more lylos and tables)

Further into the store customers can engage informally with staff at a bar, or use more banquette booth seating to sit down with a member of staff and run through options.

These booths are adjacent to a video wall which can either show general inspiration, or images from a specific destination which staff members can change while talking to customers to help them imagine what their holiday might be like.

Tailored customer content can be projected onto three screens, or they can be used single inspiration image
Tailored customer content can be projected onto three screens, or they can be used single inspiration image

The bar is backed by a display wall of brochures, which shows customers all of the Thomson brands and the other copmanies it sells for. They can be acquired on request but are being used in a more passive way.

At the back of the store a Foreign Exchange – visible from outside – has been designed without obtrusive glass screens, to continue what Thomson calls a ‘seamless engagement’.

Ward, says that now more then ever, ‘customers are demanding an experience rather than a transaction’.

She says the project ‘is not about gimmicks – we’ve stayed away from iPads’ and that ‘the technology has instead been incorporated into the experience’.

Kathryn Ward, director of retail for Thomson
Kathryn Ward, director of retail for Thomson

Meanwhile multichannel has been placed high on the agenda with staff encouraged to talk to customers about services such as a Thomson app where you can select flight seats, and will soon be able to check in.

Ward says that customers who come into the store will be at different points in their journey, having possibly already looked online.

‘There’s no need now to be siloed. We can work the different channels in harmony with the customer,’ says Ward.

Thomson, which is part of TUI UK and Ireland, has 700 stores around the country and expects to roll out the design to 100 shops over the next two to three years.

The modular nature of the concept means that different elements can be trialled depending on the location and demands of each store.

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