A RADICALLY redesigned travel agent’s was opened by Thomson in Glasgow today with flat screens and diner-style booths - but industry body the Scottish Passenger Agents Association (SPAA) said customers wanted to talk to people not technology.
The firm’s first Scottish “Holiday Design” store has dispensed with old-style desks and brochures for casual seating areas for staff to sell holidays using laptops and video walls.
It also includes an 84 inch touch screen map, and social media trip reviews being displayed on another big screen.
The booths are aimed at providing secluded areas where couples or families can discuss destinations with staff, from where photographs of resorts can also be projected onto a giant screen stretching along the opposite wall.
Kathryn Ward, director of retail for parent firm TUI UK, said the Gordon Street store was being launched following the popularity of others at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent last year, and in Liverpool and Bristol.
She said these “have proven to be a huge success and we’ve had excellent feedback from both customers and staff.”
The move comes a year after Thomas Cook opened its own “concept store” in Hanover Street in Edinburgh, which includes tablet computers for customers to book holidays, and videos being streamed throughout the store.
However, the SPAA, which represents the travel trade north of the Border including independent travel agents, said holidaymakers were returning to agents because they disliked booking online.
President Jimmy Martin said: “Many people want to come into a travel agent’s to discuss their holiday without having to use a computer - they want the personal touch.
“Customers are not going to get any choice in these stores, which only sell Thomson holidays, and 90 per cent of Thomson’s business is online anyway.”