TCook's Sunbed Reservation Offer Attracts Headlines

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

UK 'holiday-makers' take their beach sun-loungers seriously, and there's nothing they hate more than when Germans get up earlier than them to reserve them.

That's why Thomas Cook is getting all kinds of media coverage across the pond this week, after launching a service allowing customers to pre-book sunbeds at their resort.

For about $40 customers will be able to book a lounger for the length of their stay, preventing the usual battles over the best spots.

TCook said it expects the service to be popular with families who want to make sure they can spend more time together.

It will test the service at three of its own-brand hotels in Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura from the end of February, and if successful, the service will be rolled out to 30 hotels by the summer.

Under the scheme, up to 20% of sunbeds will be bookable, leaving the rest free for early risers.

Customers will receive an email six days before departure asking if they want to book a lounger. The operator has drawn up plans of the pool areas, even showing what time sunbeds will be in the sun or in the shade.

The move has prompted predictable headlines about sunbed wars in the tabloid newspapers.

The Sun's front page today reads: "Wish you were herr? Victory as Brits can FINALLY beat German tourists to hotel beds with booking app."

The Daily Mail wrote: "Finally, an end to German sunlounger dominance!" 

The situation reminds this Open Jaw correspondent of a time on a Nile cruise where the majority of pax were evenly split between Brits and Germans.

As someone "from the colonies," I was invited to eat lunch with the Brits, with the proviso that when the buffet bell was rung, we had to beat the Germans to the buffet. They were serious, and on this occasion the English got to the buffet line first, and the Germans retreated, grumbling, to their tables.

We humans are a funny bunch.

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