TUI Travel retail agents job shake-up

TUI Travel’s high-street agents are to become responsible for all bookings made by customers living in their shop catchment areas.

In a radical change of working practices, the company’s 5,379 agents in 939 Thomson and First Choice shops will have contact with web and call centre customers who live locally, in addition to walk-in business.

Already Thomson branches handle call centre bookings as part of a virtual call centre, but the move would further extend the role of the high-street sales consultant.

The group is looking at how it will credit shop staff for the broader role under a new ‘territory management’ project.

UK and Ireland managing director Dermot Blastland said: “Shops will not just be responsible for the bookings taken in the shop. It’s [about] slowly changing the perspective of the shops to having a broader remit. All business generated in the postcode will be credited to the shop.”

He added that the move would help redress the sales imbalance across the shop network – in some areas customers prefer to pick up brochures and book online. Currently staff cannot retrieve or deal with online bookings.

Blastland denied the changes are linked to a broader cost-cutting strategy, and stressed there were no plans for a “mass cull” of shops. He said: “There is no active plan to streamline shops.”

About a third of TUI Travel’s UK sales overall are taken online and a third come through the shops, representing about £1 billion turnover each.

Blastland added that the company needed a sensible approach to increasing online sales. “There may be more growth we can get [online] but we have to avoid trying to push water uphill. The idea that everybody is booking everything online is not true.”

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