Thomas Cook makes combined senior marketing and comms role; hires PR agency

Thomas Cook has created a combined marketing and comms role within its Hotels and Resorts arm, which "recognises the increased blurring" of the two disciplines - with senior comms figure David Child given the extra responsibility for marketing.

The promotion of Child (pictured) comes alongside the departure of group marketing director Jamie Queen.

Separately, PRWeek can reveal Thomas Cook has appointed Eterna Partners as its only retained PR agency as part of the strategic review of its airline business.

Formerly Hotels and Resorts head of comms, Child’s new role is head of communications and marketing, Hotels & Resorts. Thomas Cook said the new combined role "aims to deliver a consistent and co-ordinated approach to the promotion of the group's own-brand hotels across all its markets".

Child will work with heads of marketing and comms in each market to grow awareness and attract new customers to its own-brand hotels, the group said, with a particular focus on the ‘hero brands’ of Casa Cook and Cook’s Club, along with 20 new hotel openings due this summer.

Child joined Thomas Cook from Edelman 18 months ago.

Thomas Cook group comms director Alice Macandrew, who joined in 2015 from Sky, said: "This is all about giving real focus to our own-brand hotels in all marketing, in the same way in which we have already done in comms, and putting the function at the heart of the hotels business where it can sit closest to the brands to drive a consistent and coordinated approach to the content and campaigns across all the markets.

"It’s the way that we’ve worked in PR the last 18 months, with David driving the content and campaigns on new launches in particular from Hotels and Resorts, then execution being done in market by the PR heads.

"It also makes total sense from an efficiency perspective to have one person overseeing all PR, influencers etc. from one place without that debate about whether it’s ‘PR’ or ‘marketing’. [It] recognises the increased blurring between the two in brand PR."

Thomas Cook said Queen will leave in April after five years at the company "to pursue new challenges". He has held several senior marketing and e-commerce roles, both in the UK and at group level, most recently as group marketing director.

Alongside these changes, Jill Duffell has been promoted from UK consumer PR head to a group-wide role as group head of consumer comms and campaigns. Laura Askew, who joined from John Lewis in 2016 as senior consumer comms manager, has been promoted to Duffell’s deputy.

Macandrew said: "Again, this is about making a real impact with consistent and co-ordinated campaigns across the group around our hero hotel launches and new innovations. [It] builds on the success of things like the sunbeds and plastics campaigns last year, which we did group-wide under Jill’s leadership.

"Her first big project in the new role is our Holiday Report, which will be launched across all our markets this spring, again building on the success of last year’s reports in UK and Germany."

Agency appointment

Eterna Partners – the agency formed last year by former G4S comms figures Nigel Fairbrass and Michael Baker, alongside ex-Lehman Brothers corporate comms chief Serra Balls – has been hired on a six-month retainer to provide support around Thomas Cook’s "strategic review" of its airline business.

Announcing the review earlier this month, Thomas Cook stressed the need for "greater financial flexibility and increased resources" for its own-brand hotels, growing the digital capabilities of its sales channels, and increasing efficiencies across the business.

Eterna worked for Thomas Cook for a few weeks last summer, providing comms support following the death of a British couple at a Thomas Cook hotel in Egypt.

The agency is the first to work with Thomas Cook on a retained basis since the company's relationship with Finsbury ended in summer 2016. Macandrew has focused on building the in-house team under her comms leadership.

In recent years Thomas Cook has worked with consumer agencies on a project-by-project basis.

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