I felt a particular pang of sadness this week at the news of the demise of Thomas Cook
. For the people who worked there, and the people who are stranded, but also for the brand and what it stood for. There are few brand names that go back as far as Thomas Cook
- 178 years all in all from its beginnings in 1841.
I've probably always been vaguely aware of the brand, but it was the game Go
that consolidated that awareness. Landing on the Thomas Cook
square in the game was almost as good as the jackpot in the Casino - you could buy tickets for air, sea and rail, book a car and change money to boot. I guess this was an early introduction to a kind of "everything travel-related under one roof" positioning that the brand had.
It's difficult to say what went wrong with this brand. Hubris and Ozymandias
syndrome? Or simply head-in-the-sand and fear of change? In the end, it was probably a bit of both. Thomas Cook
hung onto their old model and bricks & mortar when they should have hung onto the values and purpose and adapted that for the 21st century.
The irony is that the famous end line - "Don't just book it, Thomas Cook
it" - is exactly what people don't want or need these days. From no-frills airlines to direct booking online.
I'm surprised booking.com didn't launch under the name justbookit.com
Will they still be around in 178 years? It seems unlikely.