Established in 1841, Thomas Cook is one of the world’s best known brands and the largest leisure travel group in the UK. It has around 19,000 employees and a network of more than 800 high street travel agents. This existing store portfolio is ageing and inconsistent in style. The impact of the Internet has also recently made some aspects of the retail offer redundant.
Thomas Cook’s marketing and property team have responded by experimenting with new ideas and they have developed a simplified format as part of their ongoing store refurbishment programme. They recognised the need for a retail designers eye to help pull these ideas together and, after a short interview process, appointed Design CLD as retail consultants. Our approach to the project A typical holiday can easily cost more than a months salary and represents a major annual purchase – something to look forward to. Booking a holiday should be fun and exciting, but, in many cases, a visit to the travel agents is no more exciting than a visit to the doctors. We wanted to change that so that the holiday experience starts the minute the customer steps into the shop. Our aim was to create a relaxed, modern and streamlined environment that eases the booking process and reflects the quality and professionalism of Thomas Cook’s offer. We started with the shopfront and proposed a simpler, cleaner and stronger style. The signage has been updated with crisp halo-illuminated polished steel letters. We have taken the mass of travel offers that have a tendancy to clutter up the windows and consolidated them into smart digital signage pods. These have a double benefit of creating simple, easy to read window displays whilst also allowing visibility into the newly designed store to entice customers in. The entrance area layout features a research lounge with travel literature shelves, comfortable designer seating, help counter and fridges stocked with mineral water. Our aim was to create a welcoming and relaxing space for families to browse through their travel options before meeting a travel agent. The booking hall features purpose designed travel desks and a semi-private cruise desk. The backdrop features magnetic panels fitted with aspirational images of holiday destinations that are easy to change as required. The Foreign Exchange desk is an important part of the business and features illuminated signage and LED lighting to ensure maximum visibility. A clearly defined pathway through the booking hall towards the desk ensures easy access. Overall the effect is a clean, warm, inviting and modern interior. The first of the new look stores successfully opened in October 2010 in Cardiff and took over £30,000 pounds in travel business during its first weekend.
Subsequently the scheme has been successfully adapted to a large out of town location in Oldlbury and a high street showroom in Chester, demonstrating both its flexibility and scalability. > Find out more about Thomas Cook on their web site: thomascook.com