Thomas Cook puts own-brand hotels at heart of strategy

Thomas Cook is to roll out more of its own-brand hotels after the successful launch of the Casa Cook concept in Rhodes last year.

The operator said the new Greek property attracted 92% new to brand customers to Cook. A second property in Kos is due to open and Cook wants more in Greece and Spain.

Speaking in London last night, group chief executive Peter Fankhauser said own-brand hotels and resorts was a key plank of Cook’s strategy for change.

“With a strong portfolio of own-branded hotels we can guarantee a high level of service and quality and a consistent experience.

“We opened our first Casa Cook in Rhodes – it was the hottest opening in the Mediterranean last summer – and it attracted for us a totally new segment of customers.

“There are many more to come. We want to roll this brand out. The next one is in Kos and we would like more in Greece and Spain.

“But it’s not only about Casa Cook, it’s about other brands like Sunwing and Sunprime from the Nordics. These are two brands that offer high quality, excellent food, great service.

“In 2012 [Thomas Cook Airlines] was a basket case,” he admitted, “now it’s been voted the world’s best charter airline for the last two years. It’s huge achievement.

Fankhauser challenged the assumption that different nationalities want to holiday among people from their own country.

“We surveyed 18,000 people in the UK, Germany and the Nordics and in each country, just 10% said they would rather go away with just their own,” he said.

“Everyone else we asked said they were totally fine sharing with other nations as long as the mix was right, so we have opened these properties up to other markets.”

As well as investing in 14 new hotels in the pipeline over the next 18 months, Fankhauser said the firm’s airline has also needed a lot of investment.

“In 2012 it was a basket case,” he admitted, “now it’s been voted the world’s best charter airline for the last two years. It’s huge achievement.

“We’ve renewed or refurbished planes and we’ve added all these long-haul destinations, out of Manchester, Glasgow and Gatwick.

“The airline is no longer just a thing to serve the tour operator but an airline in its own right.”

Another key area of investment for Cook has been in its selling technology that is making it easier for customers to book holidays.

“It’s about giving customers content to make a decision so they know exactly what they can expect from the holiday they buy.”

Fankhauser added: “We are on a real transformation. We want to grow the business again and we are on a good path now to do it.

“We have 175 years of history and we have the best brand in travel – but that doesn’t make us resistant to change.

“We will do our best to help our customers navigate through external shocks – and this caring attitude exists from the heart of the business.

“If we show we care then customers will come back and recommend us to their friends and family. We want to be here for many years to come – at least for another 175.”

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