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THE BIGGER PICTURE


WORDS MARK FRARY


A SLINING?ILVER O


COOKS WAS THE ‘ROLLS-ROYCE’ TRAVEL BRAND TO WORK FOR ON THE AGENCY SIDE


32 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019


The collapse of Thomas Cook affected thousands of staff – how did the corporate travel industry react?


N THE MORNING of the collapse of Thomas Cook on 23 September, BTA chief executive Clive Wratten was sitting on a train feeling upset. The reason? Wratten had started his own career back in 1979 at Thomas Cook. “I had a uniform with epaulettes and I was proud wearing it,” he recollects. Wratten felt desperately sad for the thousands of Thomas Cook staff who were suddenly out of a job. He sent a message to all of the organisa-


tion’s members and partners to ask if they would consider letting the BTA set up a jobs board listing all their vacancies. “We had an overwhelming response,”


says Wratten. “Within 24 hours we had 35 companies advertising close to 100 jobs.” Wratten was not the only one devastated by the news. Adam White, managing director of Baxter Hoare, spent 17 years of his career


at Thomas Cook, starting in Oxford as a “travel learner”. He says: “I know so many people who were still employed when the roof fell in and frankly they were very frightened. They did not deserve for this to happen to them.” Katherine Gershon, managing director


of Wexas Travel Management, was working in management consultancy when she was headhunted by Thomas Cook in 2000. “I was incredibly flattered; Cooks was the ‘Rolls-Royce’ travel brand to work for on the agency side,” she says. “Having run Thomas Cook call centres and


having spent time in branches, I know first- hand how many talented people work for Thomas Cook. They are knowledgeable, good with systems and have brilliant client-servic- ing skills,” adds Gershon. Fortunately, the UK’s largest independent


travel agent, Hays Travel, has recently come to the rescue by buying 555 Thomas Cook shops from the official receiver and inviting ex-employees to apply for jobs at their former workplaces. Employing them makes good business sense because their valuable skills will be needed in such a big takeover. Other ex-staff have been offered new


positions with British Airways, easyJet, Flybe, Tui and Virgin.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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