EasyJet is launching package holidays in a bid to disrupt the holiday market and become the “most personalised booking site in travel”.
“We think we can come in and disrupt the holiday market the same way we disrupted the flight market 25 years ago,” states chief executive of EasyJet Holidays’, Garry Wilson, speaking at a launch press briefing today (28 November).
EasyJet Holidays’ will be available online and via the airline’s app. The service will include flights, a choice of more than 5,000 hotels, transfers and 23kg of luggage per passenger. Hotels are split into categories including luxury, adult, family, boutique and undiscovered – for accommodation not widely available elsewhere.
Wilson explains: “If people want to go to a five star in Venice we will offer that, but equally if they want to go to an undiscovered we will make sure there is an offer there.”
Despite the range on offer, EasyJet Holidays will primarily cater to those looking for hotels four stars and up. The first holidays will depart on 6 January 2020 – and Wilson noted that the first customer might receive “something special”.
Flexibility is a core part of the new service, with the brand arguing that its 330 strong aircraft fleet – flying up to 670 routes a day – will help it stand out in a crowded market.
The package holiday group, which has a separate team and P&L from the wider EasyJet business, expects to attract 1 million customers in 2020 – double the number in 2019.
Tech first strategy
The company wants to put tech at the heart of the brand and promises the website will be “constantly evolving” to include new features not yet available such as car hire, rather than airport transfers, and more itinerary options.
The website will also include TripAdvisor reviews, map points between sights and pre-holiday integrated itineraries.
“We will also be launching a raft of new features over the next six months, with the aim to be the most personalised booking site in travel,” explains digital director for EasyJet and EasyJet Holidays, James Hardy.
The brand has already run thousands of user tests over the past six months to improve the website. Plus, in order to streamline adoption, the company has created a global login enabling customers to log into EasyJet Holidays’ using the same password and email.
The airline has also partnered with Google to create a new map feature – meaning customers can explore the area around the hotel before they book. They can also search for a landmark or beach, and see hotels near these specific locations.
It’s not going to be a package-y holiday. They are not going to be arriving and going on an EasyJet coach to an EasyJet hotel.
Garry Wilson, EasyJet Holidays
In the absence of reps, holidaymakers will communicate their needs and complaints through the app. This will make the holiday feel more independent, rather than a typical package holiday deal.
Wilson explains: “It’s not going to be a package-y holiday. They are not going to be arriving and going on an EasyJet coach to an EasyJet hotel. It’s going to feel very independent. They are going to have a clear say on how that holiday is going to be delivered.”
The brand also sees tech as a way to address critics who believe EasyJet’s “cheap and cheerful” image will put off some consumers.
“We know we don’t sit in the customer’s mind as a no-frills airline category and what you will find from the website is it is not a cheap no-frills website. We are focused on quality and really good quality at every stage,” says Wilson.
He adds that EasyJet flies “a broad church” of people and research indicates its customers want four-star hotels and above.
While EasyJet Holidays is open to working with travel agents, the team is cautious not to “add complexity”.
“Our ethos to being easy is so we don’t want to add complexity because complexity adds cost,” Wilson explains. “So if we can work with the trade in a way that is very simple, very clear and very transparent we will.”
The brand is also planning to branch out into experiences by working with third parties, but Wilson is adamant these won’t be “a hard sell”.
He explains: “What [consumers] don’t want is to be shoved on the island tour. What they do want is meaningful engagement and to consider at their own pace.”
Ambitious marketing plans
EasyJet Holidays’ see marketing as key to raising awareness of the new offering before January when most people book.
It is launching a multi-million pound campaign, which will first run tomorrow evening (29 November) during Gogglebox on ITV, and will include TV, outdoor, social and digital.
The new ad shows young people playing hide and seek jumping through different destinations that feature hotels available on the EasyJet Holidays website.
The company’s primary target is those who already fly with EasyJet in order to covert them to package holidaymakers and hope to show how EasyJet Holidays’ is a “modern and fresh” alternative to traditional supplies.
Wilson explains: “We don’t want it to look like a traditional holiday TV ad. We don’t want couples walking down the beach with a cheese cloth holding hands that’s not what the EasyJet ethos is about. It;s about the individual customer and what they want from their holiday.”
The brand aims to have reached 97% of ABC1 customers in the UK at least 19 times by January 1. “You will hopefully singing that tune by the turn of year because you will have seen it so much,” Wills jokes.