The Thomas Cook Group PLC interim management statement for the period since 30 April 2008, issued this morning, sheds further light on the growing popularity of thomascook.com.
We continue to see rapid growth in our two largest e-commerce businesses with a significant increase in bookings on the web. Northern Europe leads the way, with 48% of total bookings year to date made on the web and 53% in June.These growth figures are impressive and indicate - if evidence were ever needed - that consumers are turning online in the mainstream holiday market even with a brand which still places - it says - a lot on its High Street retail presence.
In the UK, 26% of bookings for summer 08 have been online and early signs for Winter 08/09 and Summer 09 are encouraging, with total tour operator bookings to date through our main website, thomasCook.com, up year-on-year by 89% and 113% respectively.
Indeed, Thomas Cook is starting to mirror the same the thrust into the online channel shown by Thomson (TUI Travel) 18 months ago.
The obvious question is where will the momentum end? Or is it, in fact, really just beginning for Thomas Cook and its online aspirations?
The decision to make thomascook.com the primary portal for customers, many believe, is a wise one and explains last week's moves to close the websites of Manos, Panorama, Escapades and Aspro.
What will be interesting, of course, will be the impact of the new thomascook.com website, rolled out in bits and pieces over the past few months, but almost universally agreed by industry watchers as a strong contender for one of the better mass market tour operator sites in the UK.
Kevin May, editor, Travolution
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