Thomas Cook collapse down to failure to understand its own industry

Following the recent news (Monday 23 September) that Britain’s oldest travel agent has collapsed;

Cyrus Mewawalla, Head of Thematic Research at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on what caused the travel company’s demise:

“Travel company Thomas Cook’s collapse is a direct result of the company’s failure to understand the disruptive themes that have been impacting its industry over the last decade and act decisively to combat them.

“The company’s cessation of trading follows a failure by its management to recognise the impact on the travel business of mega-themes such as ecommerce, big data, artificial intelligence and, of course, the sharing economy – epitomised by Airbnb.

“Thomas Cook’s management failed to comprehend the impact the key themes of accommodation sharing and online travel would have on it. Had it invested early in these disruptive technology themes, it could have been a very different story.

“In 2010, Thomas Cook’s market capitalization was around $3.2bn. In the same year, Airbnb was worth around $100 million. Had Thomas Cook had the foresight to invest in Airbnb when the sharing economy theme was in its infancy, it would not be in such dire straits. Today, Airbnb is estimated to be worth over $30bn, while Thomas Cook’s business has collapsed.

“It did not need to end this way. As Thomas Cook’s demise has proved, viewing the world’s data by themes makes it easier to make important decisions. Companies that recognise and understand the disruptive themes impacting their business and invest in them become success stories; those who miss the big themes in their industry, as Thomas Cook did, end up as failures.”

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