Now travel agencies want to be like Apple Stores

Earlier this year a UK tourism board turned the idea of the traditional city centre bureau on its head – turning its Manchester facility into something closer to an Apple Store.

Filled with technology and interactive ways of exploring the city, the switch seemed to work: two-thirds of visitors cited the new facilities as the reason why they’d use it again; and 58% of visitors discovered new places to visit in the city by finding it on the various devices in-store.

Perhaps inspired by this, but generally with the changes to retailing in recent years and popularity of the Apple Stores, Thomas Cook is about to open a hi-tech travel agency which, lo and behold, also looks and feels like a facility belonging to the consumer tech giant.

 The store will open in Leeds just before Christmas (ahead of the busy booking season for high street travel agencies) and is being billed as “what high street travel agents could look like in future”.

The 130 square metre unit will allow customers to research and book a trip in a variety of methods alongside the existing over-the-counter approach with a human.

Tablet devices, large viewing screens, etc, appear to be at the hear of the idea here, with “ambient music and video” piped around the store and social media also at the forefront.

Customers will encouraged to share travel-related content and check in on Facebook to receive special offers.

The trend to overhaul old school agencies is taking place in the US, too, with Liberty Travel installing iPads in its stores so customers can browse content and product. It has plans to open a number of new stores in the coming years where the focus is on technology.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. nicholas

    I really like where this is going! customer support is no-doubt required but great thinking by Thomas cook! A great way to share new travel apps, destination website useful online travel tip’s the list goes on and on…. I hope this will bring them back on top against Expedia!!!!
    Well Done ! Would love to see this done in Australia.


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