Cook sales not hit by ‘out of hand’ media reports, say indie agents

Cook sales not hit by ‘out of hand’ media reports, say indie agents

Independent agents have yet to see a bookings backlash against Thomas Cook over its handling of the Corfu tragedy.

More than two weeks after the end of the inquest into the deaths of Christianne and Robert Shepherd in Corfu in 2006, agents said there was little evidence of clients avoiding the travel giant, and branded continued media coverage as “out of hand”.

Miles Morgan Travel owner Miles Morgan said one customer, who had switched from Cook to Miles Morgan Travel, had commented about “the awful way they [Cook] handled and treated the family”.

But Morgan said: “It might have some short‑term effect for Cook but people’s memories seem increasingly short.”

Alistair Rowland, general manager of Midcounties Co-operative travel division, said: “I don’t think it will change purchase behaviour.” But he added: “It’s now that Cook needs its strong agent partners, and cutting commissions to force online sales, as it has done, will prove a big own goal.”

Chris Bailey, managing director of Bailey’s Travel, said: “What would be interesting to know is how Cook’s branches are doing. We have the option to sell other operators if there is resistance to Cook.”

The group was forced to confirm former chief executive Harriet Green is due a £10.5 million bonus in June after the Mail on Sunday exposed the payout this week. Green left in late November.

Bailey added: “These are separate issues. Green should give her bonus to the 750 shop and area managers she made redundant.”

Rowland said: “The public will see the [press] activity as a bit of a witch-hunt.”

Morgan added: “It’s getting increasingly out of hand. It was not handled well but that has no bearing on what Harriet Green was paid.”

Cook attempted to draw a line under the controversy after chief executive Peter Fankhauser met and apologised to the children’s parents last week. It pledged donations to several chosen charities and will pay the family’s legal costs.


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