First Choice: Tour operator relaunches to focus on value and variety for holidays

First Choice, a subsidiary of tour operator Tui, has relaunched its offering in response to shifting customer demand. Among other new features, it is partnering with no-fly platform Byway to offer overland trips alongside its traditional hotel packages. Its accommodation offering now encompasses five-star resorts as well as hostels and campsites.

The travel company was founded as Owners Abroad 50 years ago by travel agent Neil Scott, a former London taxi driver and ice cream van operator and was renamed First Choice in 1994. After merging with Tui in 2007, it focused exclusively on all-inclusive packages, but moved away from the model just prior to the pandemic, when it was positioned as Tui’s value brand.

The newly relaunched First Choice reflects “different tastes, budgets and values”, with almost 200 destinations including Albania, Slovenia, Israel and Jordan as well as more traditional mainstays such as the Canary Islands, Greece, Italy and Portugal. Still focused on good value, the operator now sells destinations and hotels “where budgets stretch furthest.”

First Choice’s relaunch follows a survey of its customers showing changing demands (Photo: Supplied)

The firm conducted customer research which showed that two in five of respondents (41 per cent) said they consider holiday planning to be one of “life’s most stressful decisions”, despite being confident when it comes to DIY holidays and booking trips abroad, with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) considering more than 16 destinations before making a booking.

Respondents aged 16-26 said they spend almost three days (72 hours) when putting together trips every year, while Baby Boomers aged 59-77 were able to do the same within 37 hours. Just under half said they’d delayed booking until the last minute to find better deals, only to find that prices have increased.

Meanwhile, trust in online reviews has dwindled, with holidaymakers preferring to consult holiday company websites and apps.

Bart Quinton Smith, managing director of First Choice, said: In a world of endless choices, the fear of better options can take all the fun out of planning a holiday... First Choice wants to help travellers make better choices by bringing together all the things they could want from a holiday, with the ease and security of one booking platform.”