Thomas Cook collapse: is this the end of the printed holiday catalogue?

Future of printed holiday catalogues in doubt as Thomas Cook goes bust

With the collapse of Thomas Cook that’s seen thousands of workers potentially losing their jobs one massive knock on effect is that of the printed travel brochure.

Tui attempted to axe their 4.7 million print run in the near future but reversed the decision this summer after consumer opposition. As is often the case people prefer a printed on paper copy of information as it is a more tactile and friendly way to read and browse.

However Tui’s massive print run of their holiday brochure is dwarfed by the massive amounts of brochures produced by Thomas Cook with its 500 High street travel agents, 100 aircraft and 20,000 staff alongside thousands of suppliers including printers and paper and ink manufacturers.

It is a huge blow to an industry that back in the 1970s and 1980s produced millions of catalogues every year.

Writing in 2016 Gareth Ward of Print Business noted that Tui: “Produced 4.7 million copies of 58 different brochures last year and while the final printed brochures will not be phased out until 2030, for those distributed through independent agencies, or for its niche brands, the majority are sure to disappear.”

That has changed. Writing in the Daily Telegraph last month Emma Featherstone wrote: “Tui has reversed a radical decision to scrap all of its holiday brochures by 2020. Research last year by the UK's largest tour operator found that the brochure “is still an important part of the customer journey” for some of its clients. In 2016, Tui, the UK’s biggest travel company, announced that it would phase out traditional brochures by 2020, using digital versions and new technology in their place.”

Tui said in a statement: “We undertook customer research last year which identified that the brochure it is still an important part of the customer journey for some of our customers. Because of these findings, we are now referring to the previous ‘brochure reduction strategy’ as a ‘brochure evolution strategy."

The demise of Thomas Cook casts doubt over the future of the holiday brochure and it remains to be seen how it will affect the industry. An industry that saw more casualties as business contracts with Print Week reporting on the collapse of the Essex firm Lansdowe Limited who traded as Print Warehouse in August with the loss of seven jobs.

ICSM Credit publish a list of firms in difficulty with their Runners and Riders bulletin with a new list set for release in October.

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