Boyden's Leadership Series Features Thomas Cook Group’s Chief Digital Officer Macro Ryan
Boyden features Marco Ryan, Chief Digital Officer for the Thomas Cook Group. In the interview he discusses competition in the travel industry, what digital marketing really means, in-house versus consulting experience, and the digital transformation.
Boyden: What is the profile of Thomas Cook’s typical customer, and do you see the profile evolving into something different?
Ryan: We have a range of different customer segments. The family segment is what we’re best known for. They represent our core customer, though it’s clear that the needs of the family are evolving and changing. For example, we have a new branded concept hotel called SunConnect, which is focused on providing a digital and connected experience including games for the kids, Wi-Fi and digitization across the hotel. It’s a very new concept based on research showing that when families go on holiday, they want to be connected and want to share photos, videos and updates with family and friends back home.
Boyden: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a 174-year-old company?
Ryan: We’re 174 years old, but we have a history of innovation. The reason the company started was because Thomas Cook saw an opportunity to provide a service that met specific customers’ travel needs, and away he went. I think the advantage that comes with that brand history is that we already have substantial brand awareness amongst our customers. It’s extremely well known. Of course, that means you are setting a high bar that you have to keep up. People have increasingly higher expectations as they’ve grown up with the brand. Sometimes having such a long-term relationship makes it harder for a brand to change and modernize, and stay relevant to different markets and different customer segments. You have to treat the brand with respect and be very careful about how you change or transform it.
But also, inevitably, there are new brands in the travel sector that are becoming increasingly disruptive, such as online travel agents like Expedia, Booking.com or even Google. They provide increased choice and comparison, especially in the early and research stages of the travel lifecycle, before a customer would traditionally purchase from us. That means we have to work harder to engage earlier and your brand becomes a key factor in customer loyalty when there are more competitive travel brands out there.
The full interview is published on Boyden’s website. Read the full article.