Recently, Thomas Cook announced another part of their overall attempt to transform their Sunprime and Sunwing concept holidays by launching a digital hotel concept. This is an interesting move by Thomas Cook. The tour operator aims to cater to a generation that seeks to be connected at all times, even when going on holiday. Thomas Cook’s Sun Connected Resorts offer beautiful destinations, facilities and digital technologies. However, the resorts are going a step further than providing free wifi as it aims to cater to the entire family by providing family friendly rooms, teen online gaming areas and a range of other facilities (Hospitalitynet 2013).
WHY A DIGITAL HOTEL
The importance of digital to consumers is undoubtedly big and digital technologies and applications are impacting heavily on consumers daily lives. However, so far, the tourism industry and especially the accommodation sector has not really jumped into the opportunities lying in offering digital as an essential part of the overall hotel experience. For many hotels, free wifi is considered as a great contribution to consumers experience and stay in the hotel. However, often this idea of adding value to the consumers’ experience when staying in a hotel stops there, as the free wifi provided is often very weak and barely sufficient for hotel guests to access social networks and maybe check on emails.
Thomas Cook is now taking on the opportunity of including digital into their hotel concept. Travellers staying in the hotel can not only enjoy free wifi throughout the resort but also book activities through their smartphones and tablets. A connected Scout is also available in the resort, helping guests by organising geocaching or gaming for its guests. Although this is not completely revolutionary, it still is a good step to enabling its consumers to use digital technologies even when on holiday.
Thomas Cook’s Sun Connect Resorts will become available to travellers in summer 2014 in Turkey, Cyprus, Gran Canaria, Majorca, Tunisia and Croatia. The transformation of the resort is a response to its consumers’ demands and a sign that the tour operator does listen to its customers. It is certainly interesting to see a tour operator offering a new digital hotel concept. However, so far the hotels did respond with detox holidays which are the exact opposites and aim to offer travellers an offline experience away from digital technologies.
Thomas Cook’s development is interesting to monitor and can be considered a step towards using digital to enhance customer experiences by enabling them to use digital throughout the resort.
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