TUI is aiming to create the world’s biggest leisure hotel chain by pumping investment into its new flagship brand TUI Blue, which, from next summer, will also incorporate TUI’s 60 Sensimar adult-only hotels as well as its 20 Family Life properties.
Speaking at the re-launch of TUI Blue in the Turkish resort of Dalaman, group chief marketing officer Erik Freimuth said TUI was rolling the three brands into one to create a single brand with 100 properties in 18 countries which, from 2020, will accommodate one million holidaymakers from 14 countries.
For 2020, 78 of the hotels will be on sale in the UK and up to one in 10 of TUI’s four million UK customers are expected to stay in a TUI Blue hotel next summer.
Some 200 TUI staff, third party agents and the international media were invited this to the first TUI Blue property, the Sarigerme in Turkey, which opened in 2016, to hear about the re-launch of the brand and to view neighbouring Sensimar and Family Life properties which are in the process of being re-branded.
Other UK travel agents will receive information packs on TUI Blue from November 7 and all TUI’s web content will migrate to the new brand next month. In December, TUI Blue will feature in TUI’s peak season advertising campaign for the first time.
TUI Blue managing director Louise Bates said: “TUI Blue will form part of the core message in all of our source markets; in the past we’ve had so many brands we ended up with just a generic TUI message, but TUI Blue will be our halo brand; this is no longer a niche product.”
She said TUI is aiming to open, on average, at least 20 new TUI Blue hotels a year, maybe more. “The challenge will be finding the right hotels, but we definitely want to grow the brand and to attract new customers,” she said.
Southeast Asia is a target growth area for TUI Blue. A new hotel will open in Vietnam shortly and TUI is also ‘having conversations’ with hotels in Thailand and in Indonesia, specifically Lombok.
Bates said some former Thomas Cook hotels might also be include in the TUI Blue portfolio. “We are focusing on taking the best quality Thomas Cook hotels and getting them back on sale as fast as possible, but yes, potentially, there might be some suitable for TUI Blue. We might grow this brand faster as a result of the Thomas Cook collapse.
“We are excited to think we could be a very big brand.”
By consolidating three brands, TUI Blue, Sensimar and Family Life, TUI will be able to invest a lot more raising awareness of TUI Blue, said Freimuth, who is also TUI Hotels & Resorts MD. “That is the main reason why we are doing this; we believe it is important to have strong, powerful brands to stand out in the market,” he said.
“The tourism industry loves brands; they create a lot of brands, but what they have not done is grow really big brands,” he added, pointing out that few people could name leisure hotel brands, only city hotels such as Hilton and Marriott. “People aren’t really aware of holiday hotel brands, this is what we want to do with TUI Blue.”
So what is TUI Blue, exactly?
TUI Blue will have three sub-brands; TUI Blue for All, which includes the 10 existing TUI Blue hotels, TUI Blue for Families, which replaces Family Life, and TUI Blue for Two, which replaces the adult-only Sensimar brand.
While each sub-brand will be tailored to their own markets, all will include the same features such as modern architecture, identical (predominantly) blue and white soft furnishings but with a local twist in each destination, freshly cooked food incorporating local ingredients, and a Bluef!t exercise programme that includes gyms, outdoor facilities, exercise classes, personal instructors and nutrition guidelines. There will also be Blue Guides throughout the hotels to assist with guest queries.
The concept is that no matter where guests stay or whether they choose a family, adult-only or mixed hotel, they will find the same facilities and the same standards of service
A key element of the TUI Blue brand is the multi-lingual TUI Blue app, which guests can use to select their rooms or book excursions and activities before they leave home, and also while they’re in the resort to book restaurants, day beds and activities.
“A third of people who book would like to book additional things pre-departure,” said Friemuth. However, if guests aren’t able to use the app, they or their travel agent can email the hotel with requests, which is advisable in high season when items such as day beds and restaurants book up fast.
TUI Blue has a 0.25% higher satisfaction rating than other TUI hotels, and its net promoter score is 6% higher. Its retention rate is 8% higher, said Freimuth.
“Also, TUI Blue occupancy rates are higher and they book up earlier,” added Bates, “so we will continue to grow it where we see there is demand.”
Other TUI brands Sensatori, which is sold predominantly in the UK, Robinson, sold mainly in the German market, and its club brand Magic Life are being retained as separate brands.