Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ll be aware of the crisis surrounding one of the UK’s biggest travel brands. I’m talking, of course, about the tragic deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd in 2006; two young children who died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty boiler in their hotel on a Thomas Cook holiday to Corfu with their father and his partner. Due to questions surrounding the way Thomas Cook handled the case this is making headlines nine years later, and they don’t make for pleasant reading.
Thomas Cook boasts over 170 years’ experience, low deposits and much more on its website, but they probably aren’t particularly high-up on your list of companies to book a holiday with, as monthly Google searches for the company dropped 18 per cent compared to the same time last year.
A crisis is an unexpected event or happening that poses significant threat to the operational, financial or reputational viability of a business or organisation. Crises in the travel industry are often high-profile affairs and almost always involve casualties and deaths, and companies operating in the travel and transportation sector are usually pretty good at managing them. With the good though, there are always the bad, and poorly handled crises have contributed to the disappearance of many big brand names: Pan American World Airways, Townsend Thoresen Ferries, and Trans World Airlines (TWA) to name a few. Even with 170 years’ experience, it’s taken very little time at all to significantly damage Thomas Cook’s reputation.