Co-op Travel has introduced two concept stores aimed at bridging the gap between its traditional high-street shops and the website.
The company, which is part of Midcounties Co-operative, has opened the new look shops in Thame, Oxfordshire and Evesham, Worcestershire within its Co-op food stores to help boost customer footfall.
The shops, which are branded cooptravel.co.uk, are designed to complement rather than compete against the website. The shops receive a cut of online bookings made in seven nearby postcodes as a way of rewarding them for advising shop customers, who then book online.
Co-op Travel is also planning to transform the traditional commission structure by rewarding staff based on the service they provide.
Staff rewards will be based on the customer service rating they receive from customers. Anyone who makes a booking will receive a follow-up call from an external agency asking if they would recommend the consultant to a friend.
Head of Co-op Travel Tony Evans said: “We want to target all customers, from the conventional customer who books in store, to people who go online.
“We want the online bookers to know they can come to the shop to do research or pick up tickets. The idea is to create a seamless experience.”
“The problem with the industry is everyone talks about customer service, but it is hot air. You have to tie customer service to incentives if you want to see a quantum change.”
Consultants have access to 2,500 destination and hotel videos to use in store, a travel library in partnership with Rough Guides, and podcasts are to be added in the coming weeks.
They will also have access to a tool called Live Person enabling them to see who is online, the search terms they used to get there and any pages they have viewed. Consultants will then be able to open up a live chat service to help consumers through the booking.
If successful, the concept could be rolled out out to other stores.