Plan ahead: Adapting to changes in society

Social media and the internet has changed the way businesses work – do you know what your long-term plan is?

In September we saw the end of the Thomas Cook brand from our high streets. You may recall that this left 500,000 to 600,000 customers stranded abroad and over 22,000 jobs at stake (including 9,000 in the UK).

As we now know, Hayes Travel have bought over 550 of the shops and offered jobs to some of the UK staff – but it did not stop the nightmare of many former customers whose holidays of a lifetime have been lost, or those already away whose trip was overshadowed with worries as to how they would get back.

Social change

I am always concerned when I read these stories, as I feel real empathy for those who are caught up in this – be they customers or staff – and I wonder how on earth this was allowed to happen. Surely there were warning signs long before the collapse?

Is there a reason why a fuller review of the company was not undertaken some time ago? And, however painful it might have been, some degree of refocusing to reduce both the debt and the reliance on borrowing?

However, the BBC news website said that Thomas Cook was ‘a high street focused business.’ How many times in the last few years have we heard that a well-known high street brand has gone under because of their concentration on the traditional ways of doing business?

At the LTCOA Operating Coaches in London workshop earlier in the autumn we heard from Paul Sainthouse, President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) who referred to the social change that was going on around us and the way that society is now making decisions.

The internet and the different social media platforms have transformed the way that most of us ‘do life’ and business models need to keep up and be ahead of the trends.

How many of our businesses have adapted to these changes? In talking to some of the LTCOA members recently – including Anderson Travel, Big Ben Coaches and Corbel of London among others – the summer has generally worked well for them, with bookings up on last year.

Moving forward

Visitors are still coming to London and people are spending money. Most have plans as to how they are going to face the next few years whatever happens and voice their concerns where the position is not clear (such as possible Zero Emission Zones where the technology to meet those requirements is not yet proven).

But are we all in that position?

Big or small, have you thought about your business, the changing environment and the world we live in, and do you know what your long-term plan is?

The impact of Thomas Cook going into liquidation is much wider than just the company itself and will affect many individuals.

When offering a service to society, it brings with it a huge responsibility. We need to keep moving forward to ensure that those we serve get the best possible product – and one they can rely on.


In memory of Clive King

In my column in routeone I paid tribute to Green Line Commuter Route 748 which was devised by my friend and colleague Clive King 36 years ago.

I was due to meet him with others in September but he did not show; an unheard of event, as Clive was always very punctual and rarely, if ever, missed an appointment.

Sadly, as we now know, he was in hospital and subsequently died. Clive was one of the real characters in the transport industry, but was a true gentleman and will be hugely missed by a large number of us. Rest in peace Clive.