Thomas Cook today promised to implement all recommendations made in a wide-ranging health and safety review following the inquest into the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd.
The company admitted that the report “makes for uncomfortable reading in parts” but said: “We accept the findings and are committed to learning from them and using them as a catalyst to further accelerate the change programme which is already well underway.”
Former Sainsbury’s chief executive, Justin King, was drafted in in July to conduct the review into health and safety and crisis management following widespread condemnation of its response to the deaths of the two children while on holiday in Corfu in 2006.
“Thomas Cook has not stood still since the review was commissioned in July and the group has already implemented some specific measures through our new operating model to further strengthen our business,” the company said.
“Following publication of the review we intend to work through the detail of the findings and the recommendations with a view to delivering implementation over the next 18 months.”
Thomas Cook today confirmed immediate action including:
- Increasing investment in customer service and the launch later this month of a 24-hour hotel satisfaction promise, empowering reps to solve issues in destination “wherever we can” and making an additional financial commitment to guarantee that these hotels live up to the descriptions that Thomas Cook provides.
- Increasing the number of overseas staff and investing in equipment and training to achieve an issue resolution rate of 80% in-destination over the next three years employing key learnings from its Nordic business.
- Reviewing the company’s health and safety audit policy together with its external auditor SGS in order to ‘deepen’ the audits of the most popular resorts, which are most regularly booked by its holidaymakers.
- Introducing customer satisfaction as a core KPI of the management performance review with immediate effect.
- Commiting to lead carbon monoxide awareness initiatives in the travel industry through the Safer Tourism Foundation established by Thomas Cook with the children’s mother Sharon Wood, to be introduced on November 16.
Thomas Cook will also include information about the dangers of carbon monoxide on customer websites.
“Going forward we intend to report on our progress with both customer satisfaction and health and safety as a standard part of our full and half-year results to reflect their importance to our business,” the travel group said.
Chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said: “Nine years ago, two children died in Corfu while on holiday with us: Robert and Christianne Shepherd.
“It took us nine years to correct the mistakes of the past and to do what everyone would have expected of us; treat the family with the respect and empathy they deserve.
“We had to learn from this tragedy and do things differently, and this remains our commitment.
“I would like to thank Justin King for his work, which will serve as a catalyst to further accelerate the changes we are making to put the customer at the heart of our business.
“With the implementation of our new operating model, we will remove the last silos in our different businesses and work together as one organisation to deliver a consistent customer experience.
“My priority is to drive this reorganisation as quickly and effectively as possible. Booking a holiday is a matter of trust and it is our duty to do everything we can to justify the trust our customers place in us, both now and in the future.
“We have achieved much already, but there is certainly much more to do. I am confident we are on the right path.”
King said: “I would like to thank all of the Thomas Cook employees that helped me with the preparation of this report by sharing openly and honestly their views.
“My aim remains that this review can form a key part of the Thomas Cook programme to put the customer back at the heart of this business.
“I am confident that through the change programme already begun by Peter Fankhauser, and the commitments made today, that real and lasting change will be made.”
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