Fosun Interview

“Our Partnership with Fosun Accelerates Our Strategy of Differentiation.”

Resource:

Exclusive Interview with Thomas Cook CEO

 

As part of the strategic partnership, Thomas Cook and Fosun are developing the following opportunities: a joint venture in China operating outbound, inbound and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) activities; a hotel investment

Platform that will enhance Thomas Cook’s exclusive product offering across key

Destinations as well as a closer cooperation with Club Med which is already an

Important and long standing partner of Thomas Cook in France.

How is Thomas Cook’s performance for the 2015 and how everything is going on after joining the Fosun family? We had an exclusive interview with Thomas Cook CEO.

1. How did the Thomas Cook Group perform last year?

2015 was a difficult year with many external shocks in what was a volatile environment. Despite this, we made good progress on all fronts. Our balance sheet is much more resilient and we even had a slight growth on the top line. All this shows that the actions we have taken over the last three years have borne fruit.

2. Which part of the Group delivered the most growth last year?

The biggest growth in profits came from the UK. The Nordics performed very well, as did the Scandinavian countries and Condor, our German airline.

3. Since forming the partnership with Fosun, do you feel more supported and secure?

The advantage that our partnership with Fosun is in helping us to accelerate our strategy of differentiation. That means enabling us to really invest in our hotel products. We know that if we have a good product, then we’ll increase our customer loyalty. This is where we see the greatest potential.

4. Can you share with us your strategy and business plan to enhance your profit and business in the coming years?

Our strategy for profitable growth focuses on making the best use of our own assets: our Group airlines and our own-brand hotels. We aim to offer a better quality holiday experience in fewer hotels which genuinely differentiates us from the competition. We are developing our program with our customer in mind.

Our mantra is ‘customer at our heart’. That means investing in quality throughout the customer journey and enhancing our web capabilities so that we are truly omni-channel; available to our customers wherever and however they want to access our services, including web and mobile technology.

Lastly, we want to be even more efficient. We have done a good job at increasing the efficiency of our business in recent years but I believe there is still more to go for.

5. Since partnering with Fosun, do you have you any more plans in China?

Our big plan with Fosun here in China is our joint venture. We already have a management team in place and are recruiting colleagues to help us produce and distribute our great product. We have taken our first bookings and our first customers have already travelled to Thailand from China. Thailand is the first destination we are offering because we have four of our own-brand hotels there. It feels like we have got off to a great start.

It’s all about our joint venture (JV) with Fosun. As I’ve already mentioned, we are offering holidays to destinations outside of China, like Thailand. We are also planning to offer domestic holidays within China in the future. And, we are planning to offer incoming services for overseas travellers coming into China. Our aim will be to take care of their arrangements upon arrival, like airport transfers, hotels and other add-ons. We are also looking at offering meetings and incentive services like business travel and conferences.

6. Are you still planning to develop an e-business in China?

Yes we are. We need a licence to do it, so we have started building up the web pages. These will be more than just an important sales distribution channel. We are digitising so much more of what we do, so our web content will contain as many photos and videos as written content. Previously, content was just on an A4 page in a brochure. Now we can expand the content to inform and inspire customers, with extra images, 360º videos, floor plans and so much more. We can transform everything into more engaging digital content, which enhances the start of our customer journey.

7. Did you have e-commerce businesses in other countries?

Yes, we have e-commerce in all our other countries. Principally, what we did was to develop one web platform that all markets could benefit from by drawing content from the same source.

8. How is Thomas Cook creating synergies through its partnership with Fosun?

So far we have focused on finding synergies with Club Med. We are already working with them in a strategic partnership that we developed together. It is gaining traction, but there is still a lot to do.

Within Fosun, it is mainly about giving us the access to capital to invest in and better manage our own hotels. There are also other companies within Fosun that I think are very interesting opportunities for us all, like Cirque du Soleil. I think that’s an amazing company and we have already started working with them in Las Vegas for the first time.

9. Do you think it will be difficult to develop e-commerce in China?

Right now, e-commerce is still developing in China, so that’s an opportunity for us. I think that with our expertise we are well positioned to launch e-commerce in China. We are also strong in mobile e-commerce and we have a team in Scandinavia that is responsible for Group-wide development for mobile, so there’s no reason why we cannot include China in that. It would certainly help accelerate growth.

10. Do you think the culture differences between our countries will affect development here in China?

There are some differences between the Fosun culture and ours, however I feel there are also a lot of similarities. The passion for the business, the passion to get things done, and the passion for being a family. We are working well together because we share these values in Thomas Cook. I would bet that we have more similarities than we have differences.