Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King says the industry has a “tremendous amount to learn” on health and safety and customer service following his report on the Corfu tragedy.
Speaking after Thomas Cook promised to implement recommendations made in a health and safety review it commissioned nine years after the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, King said he hoped the industry would now follow the company’s lead.
“My hope is that this is the case. I think Thomas Cook has been a bit shy about taking the lead [in the past] and I can understand why, but this is what a leading business has to do,” he said.
He urged other travel businesses to provide a better service with the customer at the heart of their businesses and promote the value of what they are offering, particularly following changes in the way customers book holidays.
Referring to the switch to booking holiday components separately as dynamic packages, he added: “The world has moved on and I think the industry has not properly played its part with keeping customers up to date on that changing world.
“There are a lot of companies driven by the internet who have decided there was no value in the package and they have tried to save money.
“The responsibility lies with companies providing a better service to tell their customers.”
Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser said he was hopeful the rest of the industry would also take note of the report’s findings.
He said: “Not everything we do is brilliant. This is going to be a catalyst to do things at a faster pace to change Thomas Cook. We have made big progress and we are really changing our focus to the customer.”
King also added he was personally shocked by the lack of a human touch approach by Thomas Cook after the tragedy.
He admitted: “I was staggered that at that time the company was seeking to defend itself in a very legalistic way. This was essentially a human issue.”
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