SOME 1,300 people – a few of them, like Backchat, helicoptered in from London – turned up at Telford to see the most-hyped event in the history of the travel industry.
Yes, folks, after a year of waiting it was time for the great Thomas Cook rebrand of its tour operations and airlines.
The hi-fi blared Things Can Only Get Better and Ready To Go as clowns with pink suitcases and lime-green gloves ushered people to their seats.
A video showed the history of the package industry and Thomas Cook group chief executive John Donaldson entered the stage to huge applause.
There was more flannel than in a Turkish bath as Donaldson claimed history was being made and that we would all be able to say that we were there when it happened.
Were we about to see something as monumental as JFK being shot or England winning the World Cup?What new name could possibly be worthy of such outrageous hype?
Cue dancers who ripped off brown wrapping paper around a huge block to reveal the new nameÉ er, JMC.
“You’re probably sitting there thinking ‘what?’,” said Donaldson.Not half, John.
Of course it all made perfect sense when Donaldson explained that Thomas Cook had not, in fact, joined forces with a cement company or a sports shop, but named the tour operation and airline after someone who died 100 years ago – John Mason Cook, son of Thomas Cook.
Apparently, John Mason Cook had vision, energy and innovation, which is something punters in travel agencies may or may not consider when they want a bargain.
The new look was green because, Donaldson said, it is associated with joy, hope, youth and energy. It’s also associated with air and sea sickness, but there was no need to go into that.
This was the cue for more dancing and more people from Thomas Cook spouting on about how they were going to revolutionise package holidays. At the moment, they only had free pre-bookable seats and a handy kit for people who lose their luggage, but no matter, the improvements would come.
It all ended with David Bowie’s Heroes being blasted out of the stereo and the promise that this was only the beginning.
That’s a relief. Backchat enjoyed the helicopter ride and the day out of the office but is looking forward to seeing a little more substance in the coming months to go with the inordinate amount of froth.
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