How The Internet Killed Thomas Cook (4 min Read)

How The Internet Killed Thomas Cook (4 min Read)

And so the finger pointing begins… from Brexit, warmer weather in the UK, fuel prices, airline operating costs, trade wars – and sure there are probably many factors that saw the demise of Thomas Cook, but my take on it was that the INTERNET was to blame…


The INTERNET killed Thomas Cook!


Just to recap – on  Sunday 22nd September, the world’s oldest tour operator, Britain travel giant Thomas Cook announced that it was ceasing trading stranding hundreds of thousands of travellers and placing 22,000  jobs in jeopardy. The 178-year-old British company “had no choice” but to be put into immediate compulsory liquidation by its board, according to a company statement.

Who was Thomas Cook?

Founded in Market Harborough in 1841 by businessman Thomas Cook, the fledgling company organised railway outings for members of the local temperance movement.

Some 178 years later, it had grown to a huge global travel group, with annual sales of £9bn, 19 million customers a year and 22,000 staff operating in 16 countries.

What happened?

Well, the internet happened…

Consumers moved online for many of their travel needs, while Thomas Cook did not. Thomas Cook still relied on brick & mortar stores and telephone assistance. Amazing but true.

Package tours are simply no longer in demand. Especially for those under the age of 50. Thanks to the Internet, it’s now very easy for travellers to organise everything by themselves. We can jump on the net, go to price comparison sites, book our own airlines, visit review sites like TripAdvisor,  then go to another price comparison site, book our own accommodation, use Uber for picks up to and from the internet etc. There is just no need to walk into a high street store for those of us who are internet savvy. And whilst they were well suited for the less tech-savvy folk, this segment in the demographic world is decreasing by the day.


What can we marketers learn from this?

Don’t get complacent, even if you have a stable and successful business.

Adapt, and adapt quickly. The landscape of social media changes daily, algorithms change constantly and trends change. Being stuck in your ways is just not going to cut it in 2019 and beyond. There is a new hip, savvy consumer out there – a consumer who is time-poor and want things now. A consumer who is happy to purchase a flight from the bedroom or buy a pair of shoes online at 3 am in the morning because they can’t sleep. A consumer who is happy to dish out negative reviews if their café late is served cold, and a consumer who embraces new technology faster than most retail businesses.

As marketers, we need to understand how the consumer works, and it gets pretty hard when their behaviour is changing pretty much on a daily basis. So watch & monitor, don’t get stuck in your old ways, adapt and embrace change.



Matt Williamson is the Founder & Company Director of Digital Marketing Adelaide. He keeps busy doing what he enjoys most – talking. He has a passion for social media and all things digital marketing.

Matt is an internet entrepreneur, social media expert, multiple business owner and digital marketer who specialises in assisting businesses to generate more revenue via the power of online advertising and digital marketing. Matt regularly speaks at events as a keynote speaker focusing on digital marketing & social media.

View Matt’s LinkedIn: