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Published on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

It's back! Thomas Cook relaunches as an online travel agent

Thomas Cook has relaunched today as an online travel agent selling mainly multi-contract Atol-protected packages via its website

The Thomas Cook brand, including the 'sunny heart logo', and website were bought from the liquidators by Chinese conglomerate Fosun last year for £11 million

The new OTA will mostly sell easyJet flights combined with hotels sourced through three bedbands: Hotelbeds, Webbeds and Yalago. For the launch, it is working with flight consolidator Paxport.

A spokesperson said: "The site allows customers to design their own holiday, adding flights and hotels with the option of transfers - other add-ons include car hire, airport parking, currency and travel insurance.

"Customers can quickly search for their preferred destination and refine results against a range of criteria that are important to them."

Initially Thomas Cook will only sell holidays to countries on the UK government's travel corridor list, and it promised it won't charge customers a fee to change their holidays if the rules change. Customer payments will be protected in a trust account, it said.

Thomas Cook confirmed it has been given ABTA membership.

Who is behind the new Thomas Cook?

Fosun Tourism Group, which also owns Club Med, is one of the world's largest leisure companies and was one of the major shareholders in the former Thomas Cook business. It bought the Thomas Cook brand and online assets from the liquidators last November, in a deal which also included the Casa Cook and Cook's Club hotel brands.

In the UK, it has team of 50 people working remotely providing digital functions, customer support, commercial and marketing services, led by Thomas Cook's former Group Strategy and Technology Director Alan French who has taken up the role of Chief Executive.

Alan has also previously led technological transformation for other companies including M&S and Boots. "Re-launching Thomas Cook as a business designed for today's holidaymaker is an honour," he said. "What happened last year was a tragedy at a personal level for many thousands of my former colleagues, our business partners and of course our loyal customers.

"The resilience and affection still felt for the Thomas Cook brand reflects the huge commitment and professionalism of those former colleagues. We are very much in their debt and hope to have their backing as we look to take the brand into a new era."

A company spokesperson said the rest of the senior team is drawn from former Thomas Cook employees and others from finance and industry make up key areas including digital, finance, HR, tech, customer support, marketing and communications.

The team is believed to include former Thomas Cook Marketing Director Phil Gardner, who joined Fosun Tourism Group as Chief Commercial Officer last December.

How many holidays does it plan to sell?

Thomas Cook has been coy about the size of its ATOL-licence. It said: "We're starting out aware of the current challenges and so predicting the next year is difficult. We will increase our licence as we grow.

Alan said the company was 'clearly aware of the short-term challenges posed by the pandemic', adding: "We and our Fosun backers are taking the long view and we want to offer choice, customisation, and 24/7 on-holiday customer care to families who wish to travel now and in the future."

The company said it will continue to invest in its digital offering to adapt to changing holiday needs and lifestyles including adding new flight partners and other travel options, as well as additional hotels and other types of accommodation.

"Further destinations will be added when Government restrictions are lifted," it said.

The company reveals that it has a team in China developing its Asian hotel network so that it will be able to sell accommodation across southeast Asia and China once borders reopen.

Fosun Chairman and CEO Jim Qian said: "Thomas Cook has a proud heritage and after acquiring the brand last year we wanted to quickly return it to its home in the UK. Supporting the growth of the brand in China and its relaunch in the UK is a big step in our plan to turn Thomas Cook into a global success story and a key milestone in the development of the Fosun Tourism Group's strategy. "


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