Winter programme 2019/20

Thomas Cook offers online modular packages

Stefanie Berk and Sascha Büsseler presented Thomas Cook Germany's winter programme 2019/20 in Chania on Crete.
fvw/Meike Fries
Stefanie Berk and Sascha Büsseler presented Thomas Cook Germany's winter programme 2019/20 in Chania on Crete.

Thomas Cook customers in Germany will soon be able to book modular package holidays online for the winter 2019/20 season in response to rising demand for more individualised offers.

From July, customers will be able to select on the Neckermann Reisen website a ‘basic package’ of flight + accommodation, and then, for example, choose their airline, flight time, airport transfers, room category and gastronomy service level out of Thomas Cook Germany’s complete product portfolio. The package price will be constantly updated depending on which filter options are selected. Travel agents will get a tool so they can also book for their clients.

“Holidaymakers, whatever their age, are increasingly searching for tailor-made offers that match their personal needs,” explained Germany chief Stefanie Berk at the presentation of the winter programme on Crete on Monday.

The latest product innovation from the country’s second-largest tour operator aims to make traditional package holidays more flexible and respond to changing customer wishes as reflected in the company’s Holiday Report 2019.

The survey of 2,000 customers and 1,000 millennials in Germany found that holidaymakers are much more interested than before in unusual destinations and local culture. “Customers want to get out of the hotel and meet local people. They want something to happen around the hotel,” Berk said. However, more than 50% still want relaxation above all from their holiday, the report confirmed.

Interest in healthy food with local ingredients has also risen strongly, with 71% of survey respondents claiming to value healthy food options in their holiday hotel. Nearly half want information about the origin of the foods, and four out of five want food from local producers.

The survey also found that millennials still appreciate package holidays, with every second 19-35 year-old selecting a package holiday, mostly for reasons of price, convenience and financial planning.

Cook aims to take account of these demand trends as it expands its portfolio of own hotel brands. Next winter it will open a new Cook’s Club targeted at millennials and a new Casa Cook for lifestyle-focused guests in El Gouna, Egypt. Overall, the tour operator will offer more than 200 hotels in Egypt for winter 2019/20 along with Nile cruises.

For well-off customers in the Best Ager (60+) age range, Cook is expanding its ‘Vitalwelt’ programme of health-related activities, sports and wellness to 20 hotels in the Canary Islands, Majorca and Egypt next winter.  

The long-haul programme is being expanded to more than 100 guided tours, including new trip such as Eastern Cuba, Peru/Bolivia/Colombia and Indochina. New destinations are Oman and La Réunion.

In terms of prices, Spain will be slightly cheaper next winter after weak demand this year. “Spain and the Canaries are adjusting downwards somewhat,” commented Sascha Büsseler, Director Yield & Product for Thomas Cook Germany.

During the presentation Stefanie Berk also referred to the current situation of Thomas Cook Group and emphasised that its finances are secure. The company’s banks had provided additional credit of £300 million, which could be used in the winter season if necessary. She reiterated that the goodwill write-downs in the UK did not affect liquidity in Germany.

Berk emphasised that Thomas Cook’s turnover is stable, even though in Germany it is below last year’s level, and said the tour operator expects strong last-minute sales. Majorca and the Balearics are seeing high demand at present, along with Turkey and Tunisia, while bookings for Greece remain at a high level.