Thomas Cook and Thomson Tour Operations have settled their dispute just in time to head-off sales losses in the critical post-Christmas holiday booking period.
Thomson withdrew its brochures from Thomas Cook at the beginning of December (MW December 8 1995). The tour operator claimed that Thomas Cook had broken its agreement, after it circulated a memo instructing staff to offer alternative holidays to customers requesting Thomson breaks.
Thomas Cook maintained that Thomson’s standard ten per cent commission paid to retail outlets did not allow its shops to offer the same discounts which it does on other holidays – up to 15 per cent.
The two companies drew up a new agreement just before Christmas, on the same day that Thomson launched a new flexible pricing scheme, designed to combat the trend towards late holiday bookings.
The new agreement is understood to provide Thomas Cook with access to Thomson holidays for two years.
Thomson will provide increased marketing support for joint promotions in return for guaranteed sales targets from Thomas Cook. Thomas Cook discounts, which were up to five per cent for Thomson Summer 96, are now ten per cent.
Meanwhile, industry sources estimate sales in the first four days after Christmas are down between 35 and 40 per cent, with family bookings depressed, despite widespread incentives on free-child places.