Europe’s biggest tourism group wants to make TUI Blue into its main international hotel brand but some German travel agents are unhappy at the loss of the established Sensimar name.
TUI Group announced in March that TUI Blue will become its global flagship hotel brand, with its portfolio expanded from just 10 properties at present to around 100 hotels by 2020. This will mostly be achieved by re-branding existing properties for summer 2020 onwards and also by opening several new ones.
Under this strategy, the adults-only Sensimar brand will replaced by ‘TUI Blue For Two’, Family Life hotels will become ‘TUI Blue For Families’, and all-round hotels with ‘strong local experiences’ will be named ‘TUI Blue For All’. The group’s other hotel brands and concepts, including RIU, Robinson, Magic Life and Sensatori, are not affected by the TUI Blue expansion.
“TUI is the leading international tourism brand. What we were lacking was a hotel brand with a global presence incorporating TUI in its name,” explained CEO Fritz Joussen back in March.
“Since the development and launch of TUI Blue three years ago, the TUI brand name has become part of the hotel experience. After the successful launch phase of the first ten hotels, building the brand as our global flagship hotel brand is the consistent next step for us to significantly expand our hotel segment, go even more global with the brand and increase the target audience.”
The re-branding plans were presented to some 750 German travel agents at the company’s sales event TUI Inside on Tenerife last week but got a mixed reception. The disappearance of the popular Sensimar brand was a particular point of criticism.
Citing low recognition scores for the group’s hotel brands in consumer surveys, TUI sales managers Christoph Marzinowski and Tobias Willer told agents: “We need more brand recognition. Our brands are not present among consumers at the moment.”
But agents had mixed feelings about the latest shake-up. “I find it a shame that Sensimar is disappearing. Many customers have actively asked us about the brand,” said Sylvia Bauer, manager of the TUI Travelstar agency in Echterdingen, near Stuttgart. “The product has finally established itself, and now we have to start all over again.”
There was a wave of complaints when TUI announced the change in March, confirmed Michael Münssinger, TUI’s sales manager for South-East Germany. “Customers and travel agents have come to love the brand,” he admitted.
But he assured events participants that ‘TUI Blue for Two’ would use the same criteria as Sensimar when selecting new hotels, and the hotel quality would not suffer. “What agents sell under the new name will remain the same. That is what counts for customers,” asserted Beate Einhäuser, TUI’s head of product management for Medium-haul destinations (West). And Christoph Marzinowski declared: “No one will be talking about this in one or two years’ time.”