First Direct ties with Thos Cook

First Direct, the telephone banking subsidiary of Midland Bank, is launching a fully fledged travel agency service with Thomas Cook Direct in its first venture into non-banking areas.

First Direct’s 850,000 customers will be able to book their holiday requirements including flights, discounted rail and coach tours and car hire over the phone. The initiative has been developed by head of sales and marketing Steve Robinson.

The one-stop holiday shop builds on existing “one-call” services offered by First Direct in conjunction with Thomas Cook Direct, but these are limited to more traditional financial services such as buying travellers’ cheques, ordering currency and arranging travel insurance.

A First Direct spokeswoman says: “The service will only be available to existing customers, so we will inform them with mailings.” She says no brand name has yet been decided for the new holiday venture.

This is the first step towards the launch of a major telephone information service from First Direct – offering advice on subjects as diverse as where to buy unusual Christmas gifts and where to hire an Aston Martin for the day – which is still in the planning stages. First Direct has recently mailed questionnaires to its customers to gauge the level of interest in this type of service.

Thomas Cook Direct also has third-party marketing arrangements with Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and credit card company MBNA.

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