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Consumers find booking on web far too stressful


Lee Hayhurst and Amie Keeley


Almost 80% of consumers feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they get online when booking a holiday, with 59% saying they prefer advice from a trusted expert.


Just under half (49%) said


travel planning had become a less enjoyable part of the holiday, while 52% said that they were unsure which online sites, reviews and data to trust when booking their holiday. The research, conducted for


Kuoni by Censuswide in January, was published in the operator’s annual Worldwide Trends Report. Kuoni said almost two-thirds of people want to know the person they book a trip with has really “been there and done that”. It said this shift in attitude has helped it establish its high street presence of 49 stores, which now employ 320 people across the UK.


Derek Jones, managing director


of Kuoni, said: “Holidays are a big investment and the exciting bit starts with the planning. “Increasingly, people end


up with so much conflicting information when they begin searching that it ends up being more of a headache than a holiday. “Despite transformational


technology, there is a growing thirst for genuine expertise. “Conversations are still at the heart of holidays, from planning them to remembering them in the years that follow. Trust has never been more vital.” The consumer findings were


given a ringing endorsement by independent agents. Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing


director of The Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “Let’s all work together at championing these messages. Giving customers choice, adding value, saving time – while streamlining relevant holiday choices – is all in a day’s work for travel agents.”


Kuoni’s Wendy Kenneally, Claire Ross and Derek Jones


Kuoni poised to add online brand


Lee Hayhurst lee.hayhurst@travelweekly.co.uk


Kuoni is to launch a consumer online brand this summer, but insists its faith in the high street remains undimmed.


Details of the consumer-facing


brand for tailor-made holidays, including the name, are being kept under wraps. It will target affluent pre-children thirtysomethings who want to build their perfect trip online and will be the first new Kuoni brand for 10 years. The new online brand comes


despite consumer research conducted by the premium operator in January that indicated holidaymakers, overloaded by online information, are turning instead to trusted professionals. As a result, it expects demand for in-store consultations to grow as the high street evolves. In early January, the number


Kuoni’s Derek Jones says there is ‘a growing thirst for genuine expertise’


of in-store appointments booked was 31% ahead of the same month last year. Kuoni managing director Derek


Jones insisted travel was still one of the sectors that benefits most by having a high street presence.


He acknowledged that Office for National Statistics data indicating reduced high street footfall in January was reflected in Kuoni’s own data, but said Kuoni was insulated because its stores are not reliant on passing trade but are “retail destinations” where clients increasingly pre-book appointments with experts. “We have never been about


footfall,” said Jones. “The high street is changing. It’s more leisure-based, experiential. Travel can be a beneficiary of this, if you are located in the right place. Lunch, cinema, visiting the travel agent – it’s all part of the day out.” Jones does not expect Kuoni to


add to the 50 stores it will have from next month when a John Lewis concession opens in Westfield, White City, but he expects more interest from independent agents in becoming partner stores. Currently there are 10. A second Honeymoon Dreams


branch opened at the end of 2017, and Jones said a new partnership was “in the pipeline”. Meanwhile, Jones has joined


Abta’s board of directors, representing principals with a turnover of at least £50 million.


22 February 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 5 3 STORIES HOT


PICTURE: SHUTTERSTOCK


PICTURE: STEVE DUNLOP


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