Guy reporting from really quite rainy Brighton
Let me invite you into the basement of the TUI e-commerce team. Search Engine Optimisation, copy writing (a lot of people ignore the importance of quality writing, but how can a product be seen as quality if what’s written on the page is not both accurate and enticing) conversion optimisation, new product development, usability – an awful lot goes on down here. This is why I am very happy to be on a placement here at the moment. I think from my stints at TUI Marine and Adventure Tours Australia I’ve really realised the opportunity – indeed imperative – to reduce our spend on selling through third parties and shift further towards selling direct online. Consumers need our companies’ websites to be the easiest and best way of booking a holiday, and that lowers our costs, the benefits of which are passed back in turn. That’s got to be even more important in an environment where our most important source market, the UK, continues to experience falling real incomes, and it’s for our long term survival that we have to catch up with low-cost airlines and others in delivering our more complex travel product effectively online.
Clearly travel agents are doing something that at a product level we don’t do quite well enough yet; offer a personalised, local and total booking process. Getting not only our soon-to-launch and brand new adventure portal to fulfil some of those characteristics but also helping other TUI Specialist and Activity companies to meet those sort of criteria is our raison d’etre, and why I believe the function here will continue to grow.
On the Brighton front – I’m enjoying living here, especially the opportunity for windsurfing (am doing my RYA levels at the moment, got to love a good certificate), going out and luring friends down from London for a day out at the sea side. I also have bought Groupon yoga classes – bargain – in order to enhance my physical and spiritual alignment, but am yet to get there early enough to get a place in the class… obviously everyone else had the same idea!
The other day I went with some new Brighton friends for a Eurotunnel day trip to France and Belgium – taking advantage of a proximity to the continent I have never enjoyed before (as this is my first time living in South East England). That said, being back in Europe means that I’m finding myself going away most weekends and during the week too to London. Back to Scotland again last weekend for a wedding in St. Andrews. It’s Essen in Nordrhein-Westfalen this weekend to visit a uni mate from Edinburgh, Compass (left-wing think tank) conference the following weekend, and I’m going to try and get on a TUI flight to Florida over a weekend to visit friends from my first placement. Problem is, they’ve been so conservative with capacity this year for the UK that staff perks are barely useable – there are never any seats anywhere! Anyway – back to link checking, we need to make sure the adventure portal works well from its live birth.