Have you ever gone to a travel store? Not many people do anymore. According to a TrekkSoft research report, mobile bookings in travel have grown by a whopping 1,700 per cent between 2011 and 2015. And, that was two years ago.
But Sunwing Travel Group of Toronto is trying to buck that trend by creating a concept store for travel. The company that flies daily to sun destinations in the Caribbean from 34 Canadian cities opened the Sunwing Concept store at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto that will feature an interactive, multi-user touch table display along with travel counselors, Jamaican coffee, a virtual parasailing game and traditional Caribbean music.
“Things have changed with all-inclusive vacations. They are not buffets and beaches anymore. They have become 5-star experiences,” said Andrew Dawson, COO of Sunwing. Today’s all-inclusive vacation will offer travelers attractions such as spa, zip-lining, paragliding, city tours, dining, water park, and a gym.
But the travel office has not evolved, according to Dawson. “It’s still a dusty, old office filled with brochures.”
Stuart Morris, the GM of Retail for Sunwing and the concept store manager, said no one comes to Yorkdale to buy a vacation package. However, this is not the case in other countries.
Morris has looked at other travel stores in the U.K. and in that country the Blue Water Mall has six travel retailers. All because they have an immersive experience for customers.
At the centre of the concept store is a multi-user touch table built by Toronto-based solution provider Globacore Interactive Technologies Inc.
Brick & Matter, a digital strategy consultancy based in Toronto was the project manager of the Sunwing concept store. Company founding partner Rob Gorrie, told CDN that the project provided an opportunity to take retail into the future.
The company looked at how it could create an assisted shopping solution for customers that would help them find the right all-inclusive vacation.
Rob Gorrie, founding partner of Brick & Matter partnered with GlobaCore and media company Forge Media, also of Toronto, to collaborate on a data analytical model for a concept store. Sunwing has partnered with the Jamaican Tourist Board for this concept store venture as well.
Forge Media did the design of the touch table, while Globacore created the software program along with a custom-developed multi-touch display that they call a touch table for the Sunwing store.
Customers at the store are provided with a 2D barcode card that can connect to the touch table and from there they can discover what vacation goals they have such as dining, cost, beach, resort, family, adult-only and star rating.
“The idea behind the Sunwing concept store is to have both online and an in-store experience. And, customer would not be expecting that. They are not at the store to buy a vacation, but to discover more about the Caribbean island or the resort,” Gorrie said.
The difference between online vacation searches over the in-store experience is Sunwing would have experienced agents on hand who have been to all of these resorts and can give customers first-hand knowledge of what they could be buying.
“The touch table can tell us things customers would not reveal to an agent; such as travelling by yourself,” Morris said.
Philip Rose, the director general of the Jamaican Tourist Board said this is where travel is going today. Before people made their choices on price, word of mouth or they looked at a billboard. “Jamaica is more than a beach it’s an experience,” Rose said.