Tour operators

Thomas Cook boss hails Expedia tie-up for digitising business

Posted by Lucy Huxley on
Thomas Cook boss hails Expedia tie-up for digitising business

The boss of Thomas Cook has claimed those people who thought it was “going into bed with enemy” when it announced its partnership with Expedia, were just jealous.

The deal will see the online travel giant become the preferred provider of hotels for Thomas Cook’s city and domestic holiday business.

Expedia will also provide its booking platform to support all city break and hotel-only sales across Thomas Cook distribution channels in Europe.

Group chief executive Peter Fankhauser said the tie-up, to provide Thomas Cook with access to 60,000 city hotels, represented huge potential going forward.

“It was the first alliance between a tech company and a holiday company. We were very attractive for Expedia to partner with us, and for us, and we are going to digitise our business not just from the inside, but also from the outside with the help of Expedia. That is our aim.

“So those people who said we were going into bed with the enemy? It was pure jealousy that was driving that statement.”

Speaking the day after announcing the group’s latest annual results to the City, which showed revenues up 9% and earnings before tax up £34 million to £300 million, Fankhauser said he was surprised no rival had yet copied its 24-hour satisfaction promise in resort.

This sees the operator promise to resolve complaints on site within a day or have to give the customer holiday vouchers to compensate.

He said: “Nobody’s copied us and I’m amazed. Probably because they are afraid it will cost them too much.”

Fankhauser said Thomas Cook had issued just three vouchers since introducing the scheme.

“That means our organisation is so trained now in customer service and keeping our promise, Michael [finance director], is not caring anymore about provisions for vouchers as we know we can deliver,”‎ he said.

Fankhauser said Thomas Cook continued to not only invent the package holiday 176 years ago, but to innovate, and cited its ‘Choose a Room’ and its ‘Guaranteed Room on Arrival’ initiatives as two huge successes.

And he said the group’s new Thomas Cook Money proposition would “disrupt” the sector, as it rolls out a series of products which “are exactly what our customers need” and also as the company “approached customers in a totally new, digital and exciting way”.

Fankhauser added: “We have a lot to do. There’s a lot on our plate. But 2017 has been a milestone year for us.

“We have laid the foundations for future growth and partnered with people who want to grow with us, and in particular secure the future growth of our own brand programme, which is a key part of our strategy.

“We are now leading the way, not following and I feel privileged to be the CEO of this company.”

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