Budget cuts

Thomas Cook scales back Smartline hotel brand

Thomas Cook is cutting back its Smartline budget hotels after launching a separate brand to target young urban customers with trendy but inexpensive holiday resorts.

May 02, 2018
Smartline hotels are ‘cheap and cheerful’ but not always clearly positioned with a standardised offering.
Photo: Thomas Cook

The new Cook’s Club brand was unveiled last month as a slimmed-down version of the successful Casa Cook concept, with simple but stylishly designed and casual hotels for price-conscious customers.

Now it has become clear that this new brand will partly replace Smartline, which was launched in 2013 to offer simple, basic ‘Motel One’ style hotels in beach destinations. The brand quickly grew to 87 franchise properties within just two years. But its success was held back by “unclear” brand positioning and quality problems in some properties, and the portfolio is now reduced to 60 hotels.

Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts chief Ingo Burmester, who took up the post last year, took 13 more hotels out of the Smartline portfolio for this summer season. Other properties in the portfolio will be reviewed and no more hotels are planned to be added, according to company sources.

Moreover, several Smartline hotels could be transferred for next summer to the new Cook’s Club brand which is planned to grow to 10 – 15 hotels within the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook is pressing ahead with promotion of the new Cook’s Club brand by using planes to display the name. An A321 carrying the ‘I love (symbolised by the Thomas Cook yellow sunny heart) Cook’s Club’ slogan will fly for Thomas Cook Airlines UK from Manchester to European beach destinations from May onwards.

In parallel, another A321, operated by the new Thomas Cook Aviation unit, will carry the Sentido brand and fly from Düsseldorf to various European destinations this summer. The marketing move is part of the company’s strategy to raise awareness of its own-brand hotels.

Christoph Debus, Chief Airlines Officer for Thomas Cook Group, said: “The two liveries look fantastic and we are very happy to support and promote two of the group’s own-brand hotels.”

Ingo Burmester, Chief Hotels Officer, Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts, added: “Our own-brand hotels allow us to give our customers unforgettable holidays, whatever their preference and we want that to start the moment they board our aircraft. Our strategy is to strengthen the quality of our own-brand portfolio which now comprises eight brands.”

Thomas Cook's eight hotel brands comprise the premium Sentido hotels, Sunwing family resorts, Sunprime adult-only hotels and Club Aldiana resorts along with Casa Cook, Cook’s Club, Smartline and SunConnect properties.

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