Thomson and Butlins are both embracing the digital age with new initiatives to make guests’ lives easier. But can too many electronic temptations distract you from fully enjoying the destination experience?
Thomson has been trialling a new interactive advice service for tourists booking to stay at the Sensatori Resort (Thomson’s upmarket hotel brand) in Crete. Now, instead of relying on the holiday rep’s welcome meeting to find out more about the hotel and local area, you can contact your iAdvisor by the video link of a Hangout on Google+ before you leave the UK.
And if you need advice once you’re there, you can tweet questions from your sun lounger – the reps will check the Twitter hashtag feed on their tablet and answer your questions.
Improving the holiday rep service
This seems like a sensible move as we’re all now used to getting instant advice online whenever we want it. And some of the comments from Which? members who took part in our 2012 Travel Companies survey indicate that there’s definitely room for improvement as reps have proved to be rather elusive when needed. One said:
‘We didn’t see the Thomas Cook rep until the night before leaving to return to the UK.’
‘The rep service was terrible – never saw the rep once. Particularly poor as he was only based in a hotel five minutes’ walk away.’
Overall, Thomas Cook reps achieved a rating of two out of five stars in our survey, with Thomson reps slightly more appreciated with three out of five stars.
A new wave at Butlins
Other companies in the tourist industry have been going digital too. Even Butlins – which some people probably associate with hi-de-hi rather than wi-fi – has thrown the technological kitchen sink at its Wave Hotel, which opened this July at the Bognor Regis resort.
The hotel, which I visited last week, is geared particularly to tech-loving families with pre-teenage kids. Download Butlins’ augmented reality app, then hold your smartphone up to hotel murals and an octopus suddenly moves towards you. While the children play on iMacs, Wii consoles or Batak machines in the neon Games Port, parents can borrow a Kindle or iPod from the library.
But can too many technological temptations on holiday be a bad thing? Kids there even have their own built-in TVs with DVD player and Freeview channels at the end of each bunk bed. This may mean they’ll spend more time doing things they could have done at home rather than exploring the resort and local area, and meeting new people.
Do you think that travel companies and hotels should include more digital services in general, or do you go on holiday to get away from technology?