In memoriam of Thomas Cook: the reporter who invented modern tourism

This week tour operator Thomas Cook has broken. For the sector, it is a loss, not only economic, but also sentimental, since its founder, Thomas Cook, invented tourism as we understand it today 178 years ago. Somehow, it’s as if our mentor had died. Therefore, at CICERONE we want to pay tribute to its founder and the history of the British company.

Thomas Cook, a reporter who needs to travel cheap

Thomas Cook began his professional career as a freelancer reporter. As such, he had to travel from one place to another constantly, so he always looked for the cheapest accommodation and transport. In addition, he sent his reviews and articles on the routes and places he discovered on his way, Might we also consider him one of the first travel blogger?- And it was on those trips that he realized two things. The first one, that knowing new places is wonderful and secondly, that it was too expensive. From these two premises, he founded the first tour operator in the world in 1841.

Young Thomas Cook was what we would call an entrepreneur today. Of those first trips, a train journey from Leicester to Loughborough caught the eye for 570 people who only had to pay one shilling. Later, he surprised again with another from Leicester to Liverpool, passing through Nottinghan and Derby. He even wanted passengers to be calmed down as they passed through the Summit tunnel singing the same song, in unison. Another innovation This route is considered the starting point of the tourism industry, but do you think it was settled with local trips?

 first trips of Thomas Cook poster
The guardian

As this promotional poster says, Thomas Cook wanted to bring the world closer to people. He continued through Scotland and continued with the rest of the world. In fact, below you can see a photograph of a trip to the very pyramids of Egypt at the end of the 19th century

Thomas Cook tour

Thomas Cook knew how to give people what he was looking for as a reporter: travel, meet, walk for an affordable price. Democratize the trip, so that the wonders that the earth offers were available to more and more people. However, from those years until today, we have experienced many changes. The company was able to survive two world wars, many economic crises, cultural changes, but, unfortunately, it has not been able to with the technological revolution and low cost flights.

Thomas Cook bankruptcy: chronicle of lack of innovation

If we know something in CICERONE and in tourism business, it is that, in order to survive, you have to do it in the spirit of the great Thomas Cook, which is none other than that of innovation and a customer centered mindset. In the globalized world, technology and the personalization of experiences have to be the central axis of our activity.

Travelers have the opportunity to choose what they want (Granada Tours) and what they don’t want, they can decide even the smallest detail. Therefore, we, who work for them, have to make an effort so that each experience corresponds to the wishes of the travelers. Technology helps us to talk peer to peer, to know what you are looking for and we must do everything possible to provide you with it. Homogenization, trying to give everyone the same, is the enemy.

The current Thomas Cook may have made the mistake of forgetting that pioneering spirit. He has not known how to adapt to the new rules of the game or cope with the competitors increase. However, this does not erase the legacy that its founder and the following managers left us. In the heart of CICERONE and all those who love to travel will always be his name as a guide.

We will never forget what Thomas Cook wanted to do for us: bringing the world closer to the eyes of most people, because, thanks to that desire, there have been many people who have opened their minds and hearts to other cultures, building a more curious, open and comprehensive society.