Thomas Cook Holidays To Stop Offering Online Discounts!

Thomas Cook holidays have announced that it is ending online holiday discounts for holidaymakers. The holiday firm says it will now offer the same prices for its holidays whether they are booked online or in one of its stores. Thomas Cook has recently run trials in some of its stores and online and as a result customers can now expect to pay the same price regardless of how the book. It is expected that Thomas Cook will use this as part of its January 2013 marketing campaign.

The Thomas Cook price parity offer is that they claim to ensure that Thomas Cook customers can get the best price for the Thomas Cook holiday whenever the book. It is yet to be seen whether Thomas Cook will extend this offer to third-party travel agents such as independents and rival to operator owned travel agents.

It's also hard to tell at this stage if this plan will work especially when customers compare prices online with other holiday firms. Offering a discount online makes prices more competitive against the other online travel firms and is generally expected by holidaymakers who do shop online. By using what previously would have been paid out in commission to travel agents the holiday firms have been using this commission to fund online discounts as a separate sales channel.

Depending on how Thomas Cook handles this new “price parity” concept will depend on what conditions travel agents have to agree to. All it takes is for one travel agent to start discounting using the commission to drive business in an effort to reach sales targets to get extra commission at the end of the season.

The other issue will be whether holidaymakers can get the same hotels and apartments that Thomas Cook use and tie them up with flights from low-cost carriers or other holiday charter flights. This is relatively easy to do using the Internet. I suspect Thomas Cook will still offer tactical discounts, however whatever they offer should be available in all their outlets if ‘price parity' is their goal.

For travel agents this is good news as for many years it's been frustrating for them checking holidays for clients for them just to go and book it online or at best resulting in them making very little for all their time and effort.

This is a bold move by Thomas Cook and it will be interesting seeing how it works for them and travel agents in general. If it works well will other tour operators follow? What do you think?