Thomas Cook was Britain’s oldest travel company, having been in existence since 1841, originally providing transport for temperance supporters across the Midlands before moving into what they would come to become famous for – holidaying. However, in what seems to have occurred overnight, the company has folded with thousands losing their jobs and 150,000 holidaymakers having to be repatriated.
It seems debt and mismanagement are the reason to blame for the company’s demise. Sure, some factors have been beyond control: high fuel prices, a falling Pound, a rise in terrorism and warmer weather in the UK means fewer people holidaying abroad.
However, these problems will have had an effect on all travel companies and so it would appear the problems have come from gross mismanagement on the part of the Thomas Cook bosses. From the investigation into their collapse, the biggest error is surely their acquiring of package holiday companies ‘My Travel’ and ‘The Co-operative’ and taking on their premises on the high street when clearly most aspects of retail are now moving towards the internet.
This acquisition entailed greater costs and outgoings without any real benefit or increased revenue. For a while it’s been probable the slide into disaster was coming. To make matters worse, their executives took home £18.7 million in pay over the last 10 years despite the problems that were obviously unfolding under their premiership.
The company’s collapse has been a disaster for employees and customers but also a sad day for our country. Thomas Cook was a cornerstone of the British tourism industry and British culture, hence we’ve seen calls from parts of the public for a government bailout.
While it is devastating to see such a company collapse, Thomas Cook failed to adapt to the rapidly-changing tourism economy around them and thus should we really shed a tear? As customers, we will benefit as the companies that survive are able to provide us with much better business models that fit the digital age. It’s not a time to be sorrowful for the company itself. Frankly, it manufactured its own demise. We should, however, shed a tear for the employees and customers that put their faith in this once great organisation. They are the ones paying for its failures.
Image: Ken Fielding