TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyHow long is it since you’ve seen people queuing outside a travel agent’s door?

When I first started reporting on the travel industry back in 1998, writing about the Boxing Day rush for holidays was the norm as customers hoisted themselves off their sofas after Christmas to bag the best early summer holiday deals on the high street.

People literally stood in line in the cold, waiting their turn to secure a great bargain.

That all seems a dim and distant memory now.

So it’s fantastic to see Thomas Cook predicting similar scenes next spring – even if it will be only shortlived.

Its deal with the London 2012 Olympics, making it the only retailer able to package and retail tickets in the UK, is a fantastic coup for Cook – but has the potential to be great news for the retail travel trade as a whole.

It will encourage people back into travel agencies and remind all of those who have drifted away to newspaper adverts, the internet and other channels of the amazing service and added value that speaking directly to a travel agent can bring.

Obviously, Thomas Cook will gain the direct benefit, but providing Cook staff do a great job and impress the general public, it might just jog consumers’ memories that buying travel face to face has many plus points.

Hopefully, it will also open consumers’ eyes to the fact that travel agents can sell domestic breaks as well as overseas holidays, and give the trade a whole new market to go after.