THOMAS Cook has denied its new Price Watch campaign is an
aggressive attempt to undercut the market.

Managing director of sales Steve Finlan claimed from the end of
this month millions of holidays at nearly 2,500 high-street
agencies will be checked and matched accordingly.

He said overall prices remain similar to last year’s.

“Some companies just offer to match a lower price found by
customers, but frankly this puts too much onus on the customer to
do the research,” said Finlan.

He added a guarantee would allow customers to claim a refund for
the difference if they found the same holiday cheaper within 48
hours, denying it was a gimmick for the busiest sales period.

“It’s not a short-term tactical offer, it’s a
brand builder. We’re not taking anybody on but offering very
low prices.”

Prices lead in at £99 per person for four adults sharing a
one-bedroom apartment in Turkey’s Sun Dream Apartments,
including return flights and transfers. Rivals remained unconcerned
but admitted they would keep a close eye on the campaign.

First Choice MD of UK distribution John Wimbleton said its prices
remained stable, even in the light of Thomas Cook’s campaign.
Its holidays start at £99 per person based on six sharing a
three-star Habitat Apartment in Majorca’s Puerto Pollensa,
including group transfers and return flights.

TUI UK sales and marketing director Miles Morgan added: “We
remain unconcerned about Thomas Cook’s new campaign as
we’re confident we’re offering competitive prices.

“We’d be interested to see if it can monitor as many
prices as it claims on a daily basis.”

The trade has reported a sluggish start to the year, with
unofficial reports the market is 30% down each day, partly due to
extra bank holidays and the tsunami impact.

Travelcare general manager Amanda Williams added: “The
tsunami will have an impact but it’s more guilt than fear of
going on holiday.”