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New technology at holiday firm could help later group actions

The introduction of social media 'welcoming' technology by the holiday firm Thomson could help aggrieved customers make complaints and enter into group actions, according to legal experts.

Using the new technology, which reflects the growing popularity of social media, Thomson's customers will be able to contact resort-based advisors before their trip and chat with other holidaymakers taking the same break.

Google+ hangouts, to be hosted by Thomson's 'iAdvisors' equipped with tablet devices, will help customers plan their forthcoming holidays by way of 'virtual' welcome meetings.

Thomson also plans to use dedicated Twitter hashtags to connect customers to tour reps and other holidaymakers bound for the same resorts to share advice and information.

Thomson is currently testing the programme at its Sensatori Resort Crete. If the trial is successful, the firm intends to establish the new technology at all its Sensatori Resorts later in the year.

Ian Chapman, Thomson's director of holiday experiences, said the firm constantly seeks innovation in its customer services. "Using Google+ Hangouts and Twitter hashtags is the perfect way to share our team’s outstanding local knowledge and experience, but in a way that appeals to our more tech-savvy customers."

Nick Harris, Head of International Holiday Travel Law at Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors, believes the use of new media will benefit customers who, as a group, could have legitimate post-holiday complaints.

"Community groups are very useful," said Nick. "Before the rise of social media, group actions were time-consuming and costly to mount. This initiative will enable holidaymakers with genuine complaints who have attended the same resorts to share their grievances and decide whether action is appropriate."

Nick observed that in introducing the new technology, Thomson will be well aware of its broader communications potential. "It demonstrates openness and transparency. It's to the firm's great credit that it's set up a system that might later be used as a medium for complaints."

Dated: 23/08/2012


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