Speaker Q&A with Stuart Adamson, MD, Media & Partnerships, Thomas Cook
Developments and innovations in technology offer greater scope and ease of use for customers looking to book a holiday. John Bensalhia finds out more from Stuart Adamson, Managing Director, Thomas Cook Media & Partnerships Group...
1. What are the key benefits of marketing technology for Thomas Cook?
For Thomas Cook Media & Partnerships, the obvious benefit is that it allows us to use customer data to significantly enhance and enrich our campaigns for ourselves and our partners whilst delivering relevance for the customer. It also gives us the opportunity to test, optimise and iterate, ultimately giving us a lot of learning. The other major benefit is it allows automation at scale – we manage campaigns for over 3,000 partners across 16 markets, so technology allows us to create, traffic and serve campaigns whilst enabling client approvals and delivering results.
2. How have customers' travel experiences changed between the 20th and 21st centuries as a result of technology?
Technology has dramatically changed customers’ travel experiences, particularly in the way they get inspired, research and book their holidays.
The internet, smart phones and tablets have changed the way they consume media, providing instant access to endless sources of inspiration and information that influences their holiday buying decisions. For instance, through online video content, social media, content on publishing websites and review websites such as TripAdvisor.
Online booking platforms have emerged and become more prominent in the industry, giving customers access to more choice.
Technology has also improved the customer experience in Thomas Cook stores. Customers can engage in rich media via in store screens, explore a destination or hotel through virtual reality, or even get a text message notification when an agent is next available so they can continue their shopping trip in the meantime.
3. And what do you think the next century holds in store for customers?
Ultimately companies will continue to invest in improving the customer experience via technology for financial reward. AI could be one of the biggest potential impacts to our industry, we’ve seen customer service chatbots start to emerge and we launched ours on Facebook Messenger at the end of last year. In the future, AI has the potential to support greater digital advertising optimisation and providing smarter sales insights.
For Thomas Cook Media & Partnerships, it’s our job to stay ahead of these changes to provide our partners with innovative new ways to engage and inspire our audience.
4. What is the theme of your session at the forthcoming TFE show in September?
My session will focus on using technology for business transformation, scaling quickly and revolutionising retail supplier funding and partnerships, as well as the challenges we had to overcome along the way.
5. Who is your retail superhero and why?
It would be two – Peter Fankhauser and Michael Healy, the CEO and former CFO of Thomas Cook Group respectively, who have turned around the business, recognising where to invest smartly whilst reducing a large cost base, putting the customer and quality product at the heart of what we do. They’ve also been hugely supportive of new ideas and innovation.