Implementing an omnichannel strategy is critical for success in today’s market, according to Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green.
Speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast, Green said one of her first priorities when she started at the business in July last year was to integrate the websites with the rest of the business.
She said: “For reasons best known to this environment the web part of Thomas Cook and other major tour operators was completely separate.
“It had separate targets and none of the rest of the organisation worked with them – why would they, they had absolutely conflicting interests.
“The only time Thomas Cook sold anything effectively on the web was when no-one else wanted to. It was the most dysfunctional thing.
“On week 14 we said we’re going to emancipate all of you guys from the OTA and we’re going to develop the web channels in region then have this centre of excellence.”
Green said the high street was still important, despite the company’s plans to close 195 shops, but had to be used effectively with other channels.
She told delegates: “There has to be change and agility within an omnichannel environment. The web is important, but an omnichannel environment is critical.
“Retail as it was isn’t going to be with us any longer. In the UK the high street has a very important role, perhaps not to the level that Thomas Cook had penetration but on that we’ve made our plans very clear.
“It is staggering to me that Thomas Cook was the first company in the UK travel environment to put all products through all channels at the same price on the web last November. Other industries did that ten years ago.”