Should you book with Thomas Cook?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Thomas Cook logo. It isn’t a logo that many would recognise as being Thomas Cook

There has been lots of media coverage about Thomas Cook, its recently announced losses and whether or what is the future.

Before I add my two penny-worth, I should state for reasons of clarity that I have a small shareholding in Thomas Cook and readers therefore may wish to consider my views as biased since I obviously have a stake in the company staying in business. I have also worked with the company on customer satisfaction measurement programmes – you know, those surveys that ask you what you think of the holiday.

The company has been around for over 275 years so just about everybody that has ever taken a holiday is aware of the brand. Unlike other companies (I think of TUI which used to be called Thomson) it has not changed its name and therefore that continuity has kept the name in front of consumers.

It has never seemed to me particularly go-ahead in an age when others embraced social media, the latest management ideas and fashions. It also has not diversified into other forms of holidays and that may be its problem.

For some time as staycations became popular I have wondered why neither Thomas Cook nor TUI invested in this area. Thomas Cook has no river cruising or cruising division, no safari or adventure subsidiary but it does own some hotels. Its  most adventurous move has been to sign a  deal with Expedia and that is unlike any other deal made by rivals.

Basically, the company has, up until that Expedia deal, been a travel agent in the traditional sense and a package tour operator. Unexciting is another way of putting it.

Unlike TUI and On The Beach it didn’t have a good summer but then neither did another of the “new” holiday companies, eDreams. It looks as though management at Thomas Cook has been slow to move into markets. It also shouldn’t complain about  the hot UK summer damaging sales. If On The Beach wasn’t affected to any degree why should Thomas Cook have been? Now On the Beach is valued more highly than Thomas Cook despite the fact that Thomas Cook is the larger selling combine.

What the city is wondering is whether this is a blip or whether Thomas Cook has had its day.

Despite what trendy management gurus say, there is still a big demand for package holidays – it is just not as big as it was.

Should customers avoid the company?

I think not because Thomas Cook is now a likely takeover target. A more adept and quick-footed management that can use the vast customer base that the company owns will be able to prosper. The company itself might do that if only you believed in its management. And, at the moment, neither I nor many others do.

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