By Chris Bailey, owner of Bailey’s Travel
You’ve all seen the adverts.
The one where the salesman closes the car door with an unconvincing clunk, saying “Just like a Golf”, to the evident disdain of the watching customer.
It’s fair to say that there are many family-sized hatchbacks that are “Just like a Golf”.
They all have four wheels “Just like a Golf”. An engine in the front and doors and stuff, “Just like a Golf”. Seats to sit on, switches to play with and windows that go up and down, “Just like a Golf”.
Except, they’re not “Just like a Golf” in one very important respect. Price. Volkswagen have been producing Golfs, and selling them at a premium for close to 40 years.
It is the benchmark car in its class. It has an unrivalled reputation for quality, reliability and design integrity. People will pay more to own and drive a Golf.
So what’s this got to do with holidays and travel? Well, let me introduce you to the Volkswagen Golf of travel: the Thomson short-haul Mediterranean holiday.
Over the last 40 years or more, the TSHMH has been the benchmark. Thomson (generally) never lets you down.
The hotels are always good quality, the aeroplanes are clean and comfortable and (generally) on time.
The resort reps are smiling and helpful, the transfers reliable. People have always booked a TSHMH with confidence, knowing that they will not be disappointed.
I know the other operators will claim that their hotels are just as good, their aircraft equally reliable and clean, their reps suitably hard-working and polite.
But like a Ford Focus (quicker than a Golf) or an Alfa Romeo (sexier than a Golf) or anything Japanese (more reliable than a Golf), none of this matters, because Thomson has gained the reputation and the loyalty that this generates.
Lately though, Thomson seems to have forgotten that they own the VW Golf of SHMH.
Whereas VW continue to charge a premium for its car, Thomson has got the jitters. It now talks of single pricing across all distribution platforms, based on the lowest cost channel (the interweb). Why would they do that?
Call me naïve or tell me I don’t understand the way things work, but surely, when you have the VW Golf of SHMH, you take a leaf out of VW’s book, and have the confidence to sell at the premium price your holidays undoubtedly does command.
Why not base the selling price on the more traditional, albeit more expensive distribution channel, the High Street? That way, Thomson keeps its third-party agents happy, maintains morale and self-respect in its own retail chain, and makes significant extra profit from every online sale it generates.
What’s not to like about that?
Volkswagen Golf. Das Auto. Thomson. Das Urlaub.
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