John Bates - 31 October 2019
“The collapse of Thomas Cook, one of the most high-profile company failures in the history of the travel industry, will be pored over by analysts for years to come.” This according to an article by PhocusWire’s Kevin May but it’s a sentiment shared by countless other media members, Thomas Cook employees, and the 150,000 people stranded by the company’s disintegration.
Thomas Cook executives are blaming numerous factors, including heat waves, Brexit and political unrest in certain travel destinations. While these things certainly played a role, the company’s ultimate Achilles’ heel lay in its inability to adapt to technological change. As the New York Times’ David Segal put it, “For years, Thomas Cook played a somewhat frantic and fantastically expensive game of catch-up as it tried to pivot into the digital age.”
As Internet access became more pervasive consumers grew increasingly confident in their ability to buy various components of their trips themselves, making Thomas Cook’s packaged holiday service less appealing. In addition, the arrival of companies like Kayak and Priceline allowed travelers to research and cost compare to find the cheapest options. Yet, as PhocusWire’s May put it, “Thomas Cook forged ahead with plans to build its own online travel agency and continue with selling mass market products that were being sold elsewhere.”
So, what’s the lesson for brands hoping to avoid a similar fate? In short, it’s to recognize that buying patterns have fundamentally changed as a result of digital transformation and failing to cater to the digital savvy customer can be a mistake from which there is no return.
With hindsight being 20/20, in the case of Thomas Cook, this could have taken the form of changing the business model to target specific traveler groups or abandoning its legacy packaged holiday focus in favor of how consumers actually wanted to book travel.
With consumers spending an increasing amount of time engaging with brands via different online channels and platforms, it’s also essential that companies deliver a seamless, engaging experience at every interaction. There are numerous considerations that go into providing this experience including conducting end-to-end automated testing to ensure any performance, usability or functionality issues are addressed before they result in customer friction.
This is a critical area and something that Eggplant has helped leading brands such as Sephora, P&G and Citi address. Learn more about our capabilities and how they can help your organization navigate the new challenges brought about by digital transformation.