The Product Department is an exciting place to be. Often called the ‘engine room’ here at Head Office, we are responsible for managing what Thomson and First Choice sells – holidays!
The Product department is split into three teams based on destination type:
Short Haul (e.g. Mainland Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia)
Mid Haul (e.g. Cape Verde, Turkey, Greece)
Long Haul (e.g. Mexico, Kenya, Jamaica, Cuba)
The product cycle works a year in advance. For example, over the last couple of weeks I’ve been pricing our taxi transfers across hauls for summer 2014. Product 5 year plans and the strategic goals of the company are key to driving the vision for each season.
Product managers will first plan capacity levels ensuring that we sell an optimum number of passengers for each resort based on flying routes. This process will then steer ‘bed briefs’ with our purchasers – How many and what type of units/ rooms/ beds do we want to commit to?
With contracts signed and loaded into our pricing systems, Product teams can then start the complex task of assessing the cost base per unit which will subsequently generate the price we charge to customers. The cost per passenger is made up of a number of factors – accommodation costs, flight costs, transfer costs, foreign exchange rates, product implementation costs.
Throughout this process, Product managers are briefing Publishing, Marketing and E-Commerce on how to ‘package’ the holidays on various platforms such as the Thomson and First Choice websites, brochures, social media pages, press (national and trade), CRM, internal communications, airline communications, retail communications. Keeping some 50,000 staff informed is just as important as our messages to the customer.
Once on sale, the Product teams work closely with their respective partners in Trading to monitor performance against passenger and margin targets. Prices will fluctuate accordingly and each season will have a 1st, 2nd and sometimes 3rd edition brochure launch with a few changes to the product offering. These changes are reflected online but the web is continually being updated. Weekly MI reports on sales and monthly product packs are shared across departments and often end up on directors’ desks.
At the beginning of a new season these observations, along with customer feedback (CSQs) will assist Product Managers in optimising their destination portfolio – which hotels were the key volume drivers? Where can we make changes to improve the overall holiday experience? Should we be looking to new destinations?
Phew! As you can probably tell, Product really is the commercial hub of the TUI UK&I business. We directly influence and require the support of all of the teams at head office, including Finance, Distribution, Marketing, IT and Overseas Holiday Experience. Whilst it is rewarding to be a part of this process, Product holds a large share of accountability for the success of the company and there is little time for a breather. Definitely for those who enjoy life in the fast lane…
Bit more of a taste for Product by the lovely Shona Swain, General Manager Longhaul Product & Commercial Ancillaries :
Rosie Noto (UK Commercial Graduate)