The mad dash to secure a sunbed by the beach or pool might soon become a thing of the past for some British holidaymakers, after Thomas Cook unveiled plans to allow tourists to pick their lounger before they have even left home.
The "Choose Your Favourite Sunbed" scheme will allow customers to pick their preferred sunbed for £22 ahead of their getaways.
Holidaymakers will be able to select the location of their lounger simply by looking at a map, much as they would do when looking at a seating plan to book cinema or theatre tickets. The map will also allow them to work out when a particular spot will be in the sun or in the shade.
"There can be a pressure to get up early and get down to the pool to put your towel down," said a spokesman for the company.
"By paying this small fee, you can have a lie-in, secure in the knowledge that there is a sunbed with your name on it."
Chris Mottershead, Thomas Cook UK managing director, said the scheme signalled the end of traditional packaged holidays.
"Holidaymakers today want to personalise their package, mixing and matching the elements that best fit their needs and lifestyle," he explained.
Thomas Cook added the scheme will be trialled across three of its hotels in Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, from the end of February 2018 and will then be available at over 30 hotels this summer, although only some sunbeds will be bookable as part of the scheme.
"Unfortunately, we can't guarantee everyone will be offered this option due to operational reasons," the London-listed company said, adding the remaining sunbeds will remain available for those who opt not to use the scheme.
The race to secure a sunbed has long been a chore for holidaymakers. In August last year, a video showing a group of tourists sprinting towards the pool to land their favourite lounger became a viral sensation.