Sat on the beach, sipping on a cocktail and listening to the sounds of the waves as they lapped the shore, I certainly didn’t feel like I was working. In fact, I felt very much cocooned in luxury and chuffed to be there I was! But, in a weird kind of way, I was working because I was learning ever more about the company I am about to embark on a career with.
The beach I sat on was one of Sharm El Sheikh’s finest and I was enjoying the beauty of Egypt thanks to my tour operator, and one of TUI’s largest mainstream brands, Thomson.
Obviously, my journey with TUI will see me undertake six placements in the Specialist and Activity Sector – but experiencing the customer’s point of view on a mainstream holiday still gave me a fantastic insight into the ethos of the company as a whole.
From the moment I booked my holiday with Thomson, I was delighted with the level of customer service and, in particular, personalisation that they offered me. As a consumer, I like nothing better than to feel the service or product has been tailored to me and it certainly felt that way with Thomson. From the personalised ‘My Thomson’ webpage, which gave me updates on weather, photos of my resort and things to do in the area, to the personalised ticket and information booklet which arrived weeks before departure and right down to the personalised welcome letter on arrival at the hotel, everything felt like it was for me. It’s a fantastic way of serving people and something which really makes me feel proud to be part of the company. It’s the kind of service which stands Thomson (and TUI) apart and that experience is something which will stay with me throughout my career with them.
And it didn’t stop there! Personalisation played a huge part in making my holiday special but so did the spectacular surroundings of the beautiful Iberotel Palace Hotel.
I’d expected a high standard from the resort. It was marked up as one of Thomson’s Premium offerings, which meant guests consistently rated it at over 90% satisfaction in all criteria, plus I’d taken a look on holiday forum Trip Advisor just to be sure, and I wasn’t disappointed! Recommendations and validation from sources before the travel company play a key factor in my choices and I believe the Premium mark from Thomson goes a long way to providing that for me.
Even the journey to the resort was fantastic and I marvelled at the mood lighting provided on board our Airbus A320. It sounds like a small thing but the changes in lighting made for some appropriate changes in mood and really relaxed me and my fellow passengers. I’d be really interested to fly a long haul flight in one of TUI’s Dreamliners to see how the lighting effects affect jet lag…
From well before departure right up to arriving back in the UK, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of travelling with Thomson and am even more excited about my new job thanks to the insight it gave me into how the company’s ethos translates into real life experiences for its customers.
Not to be seen as a complete suck up though, I will point out one thing I was a little less happy with on my Sharm El Sheikh holiday: the excursions. As I learned at my welcome meeting and through the literature provided, Thomson offer various excursions to help you make the most of your time in the resort and beyond. But, and this is in spite of the ten reasons they give to book with them, I believe I found better value for money in a local excursion operator.
To give an example of this, Thomson offered a day trip to Cairo for £160 per person. I was able to get, for myself and my boyfriend, a total price of £130 each for a day trip to Cairo, a jeep safari and snorkelling day trip and a quad biking adventure – quite the saving!
And, again in spite of the ten reasons Thomson give to book with them, I don’t feel I missed out by not booking with them. I felt extremely safe and well looked after with the local company and even spotted Thomson customers flying on the exact same flight as us and at the same attractions as us in Cairo! Our guides were always extremely well qualified too, with our Cairo guide just coming to the end of her PhD in Egyptology and Archaeology and about to become a lecturer at Cairo University.
I guess the point I’m making here is that, for all of the fantastic offerings Thomson provided to me, there are areas they can work on to improve. I hope I can provide my insight and add value to all of my placements by being able to maintain a customer-centric approach and understand how we can continue to provide the highest standards of service to our customers.
(If anyone from TUI does want to send me on an all expenses paid trip to a luxury resort so I can do some more of this ‘research’, I wouldn’t be adverse to the idea… )