“Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm will pursue his principles unto death” – Thomas Paine
When I came into the UK travel industry as a journalist nearly 10 years ago, it seemed to me there were two untouchable businesses: Thomas Cook and Thomson.
In 2011, it was quickly proven how naive I was when a cash shortfall almost pushed Thomas Cook to the wall.
I learned that in the travel industry nothing – ever – is set in stone. That the company responded so well to that chaos and trust rebuilt in the following years was testimony to how much people cared about the brand, both inside and outside of the company.
Goodwill for an iconic brand responsible for kick-starting so many holiday experiences, and so many travel careers, undoubtedly played its part in its revival.
Thomas Cook was a brand that everyone in travel – and millions of consumers – seemed to have a piece of their heart for. Many of them had enjoyed their formative years in travel under its wing, while many companies still had direct business relationships with Cook, its airline, or one its many divisions.
It was new chief executive Harriet Green, and her highly-paid design agency, that introduced the “sunny heart” to the company logo in 2013, along with a new strapline: “Let’s Go!”
Green took the message literally the following year, and the impact of her two-year reign at the top will continue to be reassessed.
But the view of Thomas Cook as a “business with heart” and a highly positive people culture has remained, areas that have only grown in the past five years under group chief executive Peter Fankhauser and UK boss Chris Mottershead and his team.