By LISA CAMPBELL, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 10 September 1999 12:00AM
Lindsey Allardyce has been working on a top-secret assignment for
the past year. Dubbed Project Red, it sounds like an anti-communist
plot. It was, in fact, the working title for JMC, Thomas Cook’s new
pounds 200 million company which launched last week.
’It is a relief that it’s out in the open. This is something that only a
handful of people in the company knew about. Even the commercial
director didn’t know the real name,’ Allardyce, the marketing director
of the new company, says.
This is, she proudly points out, the first time the travel industry has
managed to keep something under wraps until launch.
JMC has been created out of Thomas Cook’s Sunworld, Sunset and
Inspirations brands, as well as its airlines, Flying Colours and
The name, which Allardyce claims is ’simple, straightforward and
memorable’, is derived from the initials of Thomas Cook’s son, John
Mason Cook, the originator of today’s package holiday. It will appear
across both the airline and tour operating divisions.
Allardyce says that the aim is to ’revolutionise’ the holiday market,
arguing that, until now, travel operators haven’t listened carefully
enough to consumers.
’We’re completely re-inventing the package holiday, from the brochure to
the resort - going back to basics to put the customer first. We aim to
differentiate on the basis of care, delivery and innovation,’ she
This is more than mere marketing speak, Allardyce argues. As a result of
12 months’ research (the first study of its kind and scale within a tour
operator, she claims), a number of practical initiatives will be
She says: ’One specific finding was that customers booking as a family
expect to sit together on their flight. Traditionally, there has been a
charge for this - which customers obviously object to - so we’ve
scrapped it. Another point was that brochures should be more trustworthy
so we’ve re-designed them. Previously, you needed a degree in law to
understand the terms and conditions.’
The company promises to undertake a thorough annual survey in a bid to
increase loyalty in the travel industry. Its study showed that 80 per
cent of package holiday-makers do not return to the same holiday company
year after year, and that 40 per cent of customers’ holiday expectations
were not being consistently met across the entire holiday.
Despite all the hard work, Allardyce has found the project extremely
exciting. She particularly enjoyed visiting the resorts - for research
purposes, of course.
Allardyce is, however, no stranger to exotic destinations. She was born
and brought up in Bahrain, moved to London to complete a Human and
Environmental Sciences degree, and then went to work as a water-skiing
instructor in the South of France and as a ski instructor in Val
In 1991, Allardyce joined Thomas Cook as a graduate trainee. ’It’s a
dream job. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing,’ she
smiles. It’s not hard to see why.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk