The TUI app maps the Group’s entire value chain. As a platform, it helps customers to enjoy a seamless travel experience from booking the holiday until returning home. This gives it a pivotal role to play in the digital transformation of TUI.

On the first floor of Minerva House, a yellow brick building with tall, narrow tinted windows on the bank of the Thames west of London Bridge, just a stone’s throw from bustling Borough Market, work is proceeding on TUI’s digital future. At the TUI Mobility Hub, a team of specialists is further developing the TUI app, the future linchpin of a digital TUI. Within the next few years, this app is expected to be the most important tool for customers to plan and design their holiday experience, and simultaneously the principal service and sales platform for the Group.


The TUI Mobility Hub in its simple, open-plan office is a bit like a classroom or university reading room with its long rows of white tables. The atmosphere among the 40 or so young people in printed T-shirts, polo necks and jeans is relaxed but busy. Many are sitting at their desks, some wearing big earphones, while they are focussed keying in programming code, which pops up in bright colours on the computer screens. A few are standing clustered around a monitor looking at different user interfaces from a smartphone app. They click through the functions one by one, discuss, nod, laugh. One of them takes analogue notes with a felt pen on a neon green post-it sticker and attaches it to the edge of the screen.

The young folk are all software engineers with job descriptions like UX/UI designer, scrum master, data analyst and tech lead – they are programming, developing and testing new functions for the app. The TUI app already has many functionalities to map the entire holiday experience – it is turning into an all-round holiday planner. From the search for thrilling destinations, then the booking, via the flight and hotel check-in, all kinds of additional benefits and services to the inspiration for the next trip after returning home: the app can show you when and where your transfer will pick you up, use a chat function to ask the rep for excursion  suggestions, reserve a table in a speciality restaurant, or book a diving lesson.

As Feature Teams operate like little start-ups, an updated version of the app with new functions is issued every month.

Continual updates

Amit Karia is also sitting at one of those long white tables. Today the Brit doesn’t have much time to focus on his laptop – the phone rings constantly, and often colleagues come up to him to talk something through. Amit belongs to the management team at the Mobility Hub, and as Director of Mobile Technology he is in charge of the app’s technical design and development: “The app supports our vision Think Travel Think TUI. We have a clear goal: We want to make the best of TUI available in a single integrated app. Very easy to use and with genuine added value for our customers. From the company perspective, the app combines three key elements: customer engagement, customer service and digital sales.”

To speed up the app’s development, his colleagues are working in four Feature Teams, two in London and two 1,320 kilometers further south in Porto, Portugal, where another 40 or so colleagues are based. The structure and agile workflow resemble those of a successful start-up, and the underlying model origi­nated with the music streaming service Spotify. Each team has members from different functions in marketing and technology or IT and is devoted to its own problem-solving or to a specific challenge. “As our Feature Teams operate like little start-ups, we can release an updated version of the app with new functions every month,” explains Amit.    

More and more users

Two rows further down sits Carla Manent. The native Catalonian is the Senior Marketing & Commercial Manager, so her job is to build awareness of the app and make sure that as many TUI customers as possible use it before, after and above all during their holiday. The user statistics are growing fast: in the financial year 2019, one TUI customer in three logged into the app – perhaps to call up information about their booking – and that number is on the rise. “We have 7.8 million active users, almost half of them in the UK, followed by Germany with about two million users,” says Manent. “But our highest penetration rate is in the Nordics. Two out of three travellers there log in to see details of their booking or to use the services. Nearly every TUI holidaymaker has a smartphone with them, and there is strong interest in services that they can call up and book quickly, easily and at any time. We are bringing those services to the customer’s mobile phone.” Apart from offering more and more options, the app is being developed as an important distribution channel. Carla Manent points out that the highest growth rates are generated by the sale of excursions and activities. Compared with last year, bookings for excursions have increased almost fivefold.

»We have a clear goal: We want to make the best of TUI available in a single integrated app.«

Amit Karia, Director of Mobile Technology

After hotels and cruises, excursions and activities are the third major pillar in strategic growth for the TUI Group. In autumn 2018 TUI took over the Italian company Musement, a technical platform that acts as a marketplace for providers of activities and excursions in cities and holiday destinations. With the help of the platform, users can book around 150,000 activities and experiences directly, most of them curated and certified by TUI. Since autumn 2019 Musement’s content has been integrated into the TUI app as well to provide additional value.

Simple bookings

Amit Karia takes his smartphone from his trouser pocket and opens the pale blue tile with the red smile logo. He taps the app once and enters Mallorca in a little search window. An illustrated list appears with a multitude of island excursions – from the classical sightseeing tour by open-top bus in the capital Palma to the trend sport coasteering (a kind of coastal theme tour that combines swimming, climbing, abseiling and cliff-jumping). It only takes a few clicks to check availability and book the activity right there in the app. Anyone who can remember how this used to be done in the old days will not resist a chuckle: right after breakfast guests would look at laminated brochures on a table or at the black board in the hotel foyer with pictures of a few excursions. If you fancied a trip to see the stalagmites in a cave 80 kilometers away or an accompanied tour of the dunes in an old jeep, you could tell the rep, who would book it for you. The app now provides a huge variety and together with advice from the TUI rep who often has also helped in curating many of the offers, the excursions and activities become unrivalled in the destinations.

Amit’s team have already updated the app functions. Now users will be able to search for excursions that match their interests. The app can even make suggestions before the holiday begins based on personal details and customer behaviour – or if the app recognises that the user will be visiting a particular city, it can propose activities that are likely to interest them. One of the latest features allows to search for and book activities even if you are not a TUI customer booked on a holiday – it can be accessed by everyone.

Richard Levin, Director of Mobile of TUI Group with overall commercial responsibility for the app, firmly believes in the TUI app as a one-stop shop for everything a customer needs to make his or her holiday experience unique. “The app helps out at every stage of the journey. Building and developing digital services to support and complement our local tour reps is a significant milestone for the Group and its digital transformation. For customers this will substantially enhance the travel experience at the destination. The teams in London and Porto are working assiduously to develop and improve the app, new functions are added every month – and yet the function most popular with holidaymakers is the simplest one of all: a clock that tells them how long they still have to wait until they can set off – the holiday countdown.”

»The TUI app is increa­singly key to the customer experience. That’s why we invest continually in its development.«

Frank Rosenberger, Member of the Executive Board, CIO & Future Markets