What is it with the British and sun loungers? Did Thomas Cook realise just how big a raw nerve they touched when they announced last week they intended to offer holidaymakers the opportunity to reserve a sunbed for their entire holiday, (for the very reasonable cost of £22)?
It was probably reasonable to assume – at least amongst the company’s marketing folk – that we Brits might appreciate the chance to have a lie-in on holiday and not have to set our alarm clocks each morning at some unearthly hour so as to take part in the pre-dawn ‘laying out of the towels’ ritual which takes place at hotels, beaches and resorts everywhere.
The company’s CEO certainly seemed to be very reasonable when he said of the scheme, “Holidaymakers today want to personalise their package, mixing and matching the elements that best fit their needs.” Yes, but did this have to include that most precious of experiences, bagging a sun lounger?
This being February – and so journalists have got very little to write about – the story went viral with just about every national paper and major broadcast channel (TV & Radio) covering it. And as for social media?
We’re pretty sure that most of our readers will have already read something about this story, so we thought we’d delve a little deeper into it and look at some of the comments that people had added to the news items. These always make for fascinating reading as they give a real insight into people’s attitudes. (We’re rather hoping that Thomas Cook’s marketers are sifting through them right now).
The Times article attracted fifty-two comments. We liked the one from reader David Ilsely who advised other readers to “Buy up all the beds in certain areas, then subdivide them and let them out on 6 hour short-term tenancies”.
The Independent’s readers were clearly too busy that day to comment on the story. Only twelve did so, although we liked this one, “…I have only ever been on 1 package holiday with TC, hated it and found that it was not Germans who put towels on sun beds, but Brits, who were also particularly rude and arrogant and had tantrums if their roast beef dinner and bacon butty was unavailable”.
The Guardian’s readers were obviously the more exercised about this story (or bored on that day) as its article attracted 403 comments! One of the most helpful was probably this one: “Clearly the answer is to take your own sunbed with you. Also handy for those lengthy airport delays”.