Published on Friday, September 18, 2020
The new Thomas Cook brand is set to expand to become 'more than just an online travel agency', with plans afoot to create concept stores and a lifestyle platform offering entertainment, tickets and even a service to transport holidaymakers' bulky purchases back home.
Owner Fosun Tourism Group is also planning to expand its Club Med empire, with new resorts and a new brand, called Club Med Joyview, aimed at short city-break travellers.
Fosun Chief Executive and Chairman Jim Qian outlined the group's ambitious expansions plans for when the global economy recovers, in an interview with the BBC.
He described this week's launch of Thomas Cook UK as an online agency as 'phase one' in its plans for the market.
He said: "In China, Thomas Cook has been relaunched as more than just an online travel agency. Instead, it is a lifestyle platform which offers a range of related products and services."
This lifestyle platform includes hotels, tickets, entertainment, education and retailers selling gifts and souvenirs. It also includes a delivery firm to help holidaymakers transport bulky purchases back to their home.
"We launched as an online travel agency first in the UK but we want to add more and more so it becomes a similar platform," Qian added.
He described this week's UK launch as a 'soft launch to test the process and make sure things are working well ahead of a full recovery'. He added: "We will gradually add more products on this platform."
He also said Fosun plans to expand the Club Med brand, whose resorts are gradually reopening globally. Fosun has started building 10 new resorts to be ready for the end of 2022 has more in the pipeline
In China it has also launched a new brand called Club Med Joyview aimed at short city-break travellers.
Fosun is confident it will survive the Covid crisis. "The companies that can survive this travel downturn will be much stronger on the other side as they have shown they can be efficiently managed, " Qian added.
Fosun plans to open Thomas Cook stores, starting with Shanghai early next year. They will be 'multifunctional and more than just travel agencies', but will not be on a large scale.
The first store will feature attractions such as skiing machines and ski instructors, cafes serving exotic drinks and children's education classes.
"We want to test a lot of things in China which in the future can be launched globally. These new-style concept stores show our commitment to having a solid offline presence, building on physical resorts like the Club Med chain."
He said that, since Thomas Cook relaunched in China in July, it has attracted over 170,000 customers.
And read the BBC interview here.