Thomson has unveiled a number of new online initiatives as part of its plans to further drive sales onto its website.

New media director Graham Donoghue told the company’s Online Booking Forum today that online sales currently accounted for 60% of total sales and the company aimed to increase this to 70% in the next 12 months.

Donoghue revealed Thomson has teamed up with TripAdvisor to enable its users to view the online travel community’s user generated reviews.

“Two years ago we wouldn’t have considered working with a company like TripAdvisor but the power of that word of mouth content is extremely important to us,” he said.

Thomson plans to add an online facility by the end of the year that will enable users to conduct live web chats with its staff. The new service, based on Google technology and modelled on US website Cha Cha, will build on its existing ‘virtual call centre’ model which directs customer queries to branch staff.

Donoghue also pointed to the success of social networking sites such as Facebook and photo sharing site Flickr and said “Thomson needs to be part of that”.

Another area the company aims to improve is its online video content, which receives 700,000 views a week, 200,000 of which are directed from other sites like YouTube and Google.

Going forward Donoghue said the company would provide users with more flexibility online, offering more ‘modular’ products such as hotels and flight only and making it easier for customers to ”blend” them with those of third parties. It is also pushing more luxury products, which are backed by an online offering which has a different look and feel to the main site. 

While the company as a whole is reducing its capacity for packages in line with falling demand, Donoghue told attendees that package sales online were growing, thanks to a push on high-end packages that has resulted in an average online package spend of £1,500.

Thomson’s parent company TUI achieved Euros 2.2 billion of online sales in 2006, and achieved Euros 1 billion in the four months to the end of April 2007.