Thomas Cook Facebook ‘Fiasco’

Yes the word fiasco is in inverted commas, because it’s not a fiasco on Thomas Cook’s behalf, but rather a good example of guerrilla social PR by another, lesser known travel company.

And i’m going to defend Thomas Cook from the nay-sayers – here’s why:

What happened?

Well in summary, a bloke who was also called Thomas Cook posted on the travel brand Thomas Cook’s Facebook page demanding that, as he’d had to endure 26 years of daunting as a result of sharing a name, he was owed a free holiday. Thomas Cook quite rightly responded with the fact that they can’t go around giving a free holiday to every Tom, Dick and Tom and Tom! That would put them in a real financial pickle, which they really don’t need at the moment what with being £1.3bn in debt.

Here’s the actual conversation (image thanks to @digitim)

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Thomas Cook! You fools! Why did you not seize upon this opportunity to give this freeloading chancer a free holiday? Think of the PR that would have been gained!

Correction – Thomas Cook would have gained little exposure had they succumbed to this request. The reason the story became so huge and reached the front page of Reddit, was the fact that this other company came in and offered the holiday to Thomas Cook, on Thomas Cook’s own page. That’s where the story lies.

This, I believe, is social media at it’s worst. It is cyber brand bullying. Social peer pressure. Of course there must be a level of value exchange, an eye for an eye, you share that interesting and relevant content Mr Brand and i’ll like your page and, if you’re lucky, share it with all my friends… But free holidays for sharing the same name? Give me break.

Let’s take the medium out of the equation. If this guy had run in to a Thomas Cook shop on the high street and shouted at the agents “I WANT A FREE HOLIDAY! GIMME GIMME GIMME!” would they have complied? No. They’d have asked him to leave and when he didn’t they’d have called the police. Why so different on ‘social media?’.

Free Thomas Cook Holiday!

Thomas Cook’s response was that if they gave this one Thomas Cook a free holiday, this would set a precedent and meaning they should pay for ALL Thomas Cooks to have a free holiday. Sure enough, later on, another Thomas Cook, this time based in America posted a request for a free holiday. Quite rightly, Thomas Cook have set out their stall, i.e. ‘No way, you’re not having a free holiday…’ LowCostHolidays.com on the other hand have kindly paid for Thomas Cooks trip to Paris. So are they now going to pay for all the other Thomas Cooks to have trips to Paris? I doubt it, but that’s not very fair now is it?

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All reminiscent of when E4 started posting on ITV and Sky’s Facebook pages and responding to their fans.

I particularly like this, perhaps Thomas Cook should jump in on that post and offer her a free holiday – this could go on forever:

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So well done Lowcostholidays.com, great guerrilla marketing, but there’s no need to berate Thomas Cook for what was simply a very clever move by a smaller competitor. Now i’m off to change my name by deed poll to Lamborghini.

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