Thomas Cook is guaranteeing all holidays booked through its sales channels are financially protected, with a pledge to refund customers’ money within 24 hours should any company booked collapse.

The promise forms part of its turn of year peak advertising retail campaign in which the slogan ‘Don’t just book it…Thomas Cook it!’ – last used in 1993 – is brought back to life.

In the company’s TV advertisements, which go live today, more than 100 real Thomas Cook staff come together to deliver the travel gaint’s guarantee under the slogan ‘Whatever you book, we promise your money is safe with us’. There will also be advertising across national newspapers, outdoor posters and on regional radio stations.

The guarantee for the first time extends the level of protection traditionally offered across Thomas Cook’s own products by covering failures of any other travel companies booked through its high-street shops, website or call centres.

Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the company felt obliged to take a stance because in its view consumers are being misled and disadvantaged by the Government’s current ATOL scheme, which only safeguards certain travel company collapses. Airlines fall outside of the ATOL scheme.

He said: “We think it’s time for the market leader to act as market leader. We have tried to talk the government into changing its stance but it’s unlikely as the airlines have a very powerful lobby. We are taking these steps in the absence of the government making any changes to the ATOL scheme to protect all our customers’ money now.”

He added: “Whatever the customer books through us, whether it’s non-bonded or bonded, they will be protected should there be a failure and they will get their money back within 24 hours, even when they have booked with a credit card.”

To further boost sales for 2009 the company is offering a guaranteed 10% discount on all holidays booked from now until February 16 and is pledging to offer the best foreign exchange rates on the high-street and price-match any cheaper rates.  There will also be early booking savings of up to £400 per holiday with guaranteed free kids places and two weeks for the price of one at selected properties.

In pictures: Thomas Cook’s new advertising campaign