The world’s first TUI Blue hotel opened in 2016 at Sarigerme in Turkey. The lifestyle brand will now grow to about 100 hotels with roughly a million guests. TUI Blue Sarigerme Park still has a special role to play, whether as a pilot for technical innovations or as an inspiration for new long-haul destinations. An excursion to the roots of the brand.

“Those ones are the most popular.” General manager Yavuz Zeyrek waves towards some garden bungalows. “They have the best sea view. But the rooms in Demre Villa over there are a frequent choice too. The location is so central.” As we walk around the hotel, Yavuz points out the top choices among the ‘room preferences’. TUI Blue Sarigerme Park was one of the first facilities to trial the new function. A few days after booking their hotel, holidaymakers can select the rooms of their choice from the comfort of their own home or through their travel agent. On the digital plan, it’s easy to find the best rooms in their category. Guests pay ten euros per room and per night for this additional option – just one way to customise their stay to match their personal preferences. In turn, Yavuz Zeyrek and his team find out in good time what their guests want while earning some extra revenue. After a successful pilot, the option has now been rolled out to all TUI Blue hotels. The idea is also to implement it in as many new facilities as possible.

The Blue App gives every guest a digital service assistant to plan their individual holiday experience. Anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone with them can always contact the Blue Guides or use a display screen in the hotel.

Digital assistant and personal adviser

Digital services like this are increasingly popular with travellers, but there is no shortage of personal contact with holidaymakers. “We have about 14 Blue Guides working here in different departments from reception to sports and the bar,” reports Yavuz. “They are always here to advise and assist our guests if wanted. Many guests prefer the app, while others like to have a personal conversation. It depends on the individual.” Over a third of the TUI Blue guests have already used the app before they leave home, exploring the daily programme of events or the add-on services well in advance. The booking options give customers a chance to plan and personalise their holiday before they travel. They might want to book sporting activities or reserve a table. “Our sunrise yoga courses are always well booked, and so are the daybeds on the beach,” says Yavuz, consulting the back-end programme for the Blue App. Be it housekeeping, Bluef!t Guides or the restaurant staff, for all of them this is an important source of information so that they can fulfil the wishes of their guests.

More than 1/3 of TUI Blue guests use the app before leaving home.

Multi-channel hospitality

At the hotel reception Yavuz comes across the Blue Guides Cosmina and Zeynep. They have both just returned from a tour of the resort. They regularly check the information display by the Pool Bar as well as the tablets in the Welcome Lounge. Holidaymakers who have not brought a mobile phone can use these to find out about the day’s activities. “These two colleagues are in contact with our guests through various channels,” explains Yavuz. “Apart from the bulletin board in the app, we receive questions on social media, and we respond to reviews on well-known evaluation platforms like HolidayCheck or TripAdvisor.” Today’s hotel guests are not only a presence while they are actually staying; the periods before and after the trip also influence their holiday experience and consequently customer satisfaction.

Yavuz Zeyrek and his team opened the first TUI Blue hotel in 2016; in summer 2020 the brand will welcome over a million guests in 18 countries.

A new kind of hotel

Before general manager Yavuz Zeyrek was able to cut the inaugural blue ribbon at TUI Blue Sarigerme Park, several months had already been devoted to intensive planning. What do lifestyle-aware customers expect from their hotel stay these days? What opportunities do they have to personalise their holiday even more? Requests by holidaymakers were collected, trends analysed and ideas tested. “It was soon clear that we wanted to implement the new brand in our own hotel here in Sarigerme. An exciting time that enabled us to feed many of our own practical experiences into the process,” recalls Yavuz. On this basis a brand has taken shape over the last three years that achieves high scores for guest satisfaction and above-average recommendation rates. In the next few years TUI Blue will be developed into the biggest leisure hotel brand in the world, appealing to modern-day customers from different target groups and life phases.

A room near the pool or directly by the beach?

The blue-tinted export hit

The team at the first TUI Blue hotel is backing this growth strategy to the hilt. “Defining standards is one thing, implementing them in your operations is another. We are happy to pass on our experience in the field. Next week, for example, our colleagues from Vietnam will be visiting,” Yavuz relates. In spring 2020 the first TUI Blue hotel in Asia will open near by Hoi An in the Central Coast region of Vietnam. By that time the triedand- tested hotel management system will have been installed in the Far East and the specific features of the site will have been captured. So guests can sit on the sofa at home and choose their rooms at Tam Tien Beach many miles away. A holiday kick with a click.

»We plan to grow the TUI Blue brand from 10 hotels now to 100 by summer 2020. This will reinforce our leadership in the international leisure hotel business.«

Erik Friemuth, Member of the Group Executive Committee, Group Chief Marketing Officer & Managing Director TUI Hotels & Resorts 

Blue Experiences: Regional excursions, like to the market in Fethiye, are part of the TUI Blue hotel programme.

Mr Friemuth, how is it possible to expand so quickly?

TUI Blue has the potential to become the world’s biggest holiday hotel brand over the next few years. To this end, from summer 2020 we will merge the specially tailored profiles of the hotel brands TUI Blue, TUI Sensimar and TUI Family Life under the TUI Blue umbrella. Our guests will then benefit from a greater choice of TUI Blue hotels worldwide. Simply pooling the three brands will take us very close to our targets. In addition to this, we already have new hotel projects in the pipeline. In future years we will welcome around a million customers to our TUI Blue hotels.  

Blue Taste: The “Levante”, the speciality restaurant at TUI Blue Sarigerme Park (on the left of the picture), highlights local cooking. The high-quality culinary delights provided by TUI Blue hotels cater for all diets.

What is the advantage of merging the hotel brands?

The keyword here is visibility. Although our brands are all successfully positioned, the number of hotels was quite small by international standards. By pooling our hotel offering under the roof of TUI Blue, we expect to enhance brand recognition, which in turn will generate more tailwind for our growth strategy. The new TUI Blue will still be geared to the contemporary, experience-oriented lifestyle traveller. But after the merger we can broaden our offering of personalised hotel experiences. The focus will be on the individual wishes of adults or families or people who want local culture and authentic discoveries. Within the TUI Blue portfolio, each hotel will be designed to cater for these different target groups and their needs.

What will make up the future TUI Blue brand portfolio?

TUI Group will continue to strike a balance within the hotel portfolio. Apart from the high-yield hotels we own ourselves, we will pursue an asset-light strategy with managed hotels. In addition, the TUI Blue portfolio will integrate some assets operated by external hotel partners in line with our quality standards. This will generate rapid growth and a bigger role in the international holiday hotel business.  

»TUI Blue will have over a million guests a year in the future, contributing to the global visibility of the brand.«

Sebastian Ebel, Member of the Executive Board, CEO Hotels & Resorts, Cruises, Destination Experiences