Thomas Cook boosted by Redknapp ads

THE £5m advertising campaign featuring Jamie and Lousie Redknapp has helped fuel a 15 per cent jump in UK bookings in the past four weeks at Thomas Cook.

The company said it is considering extending the campaign – which features the celebrity couple on holiday at exotic locations.

Chairman Manny Fontenla-Novoa said: “The campaign is about selling dreams, not nuts and bolts, and those dreams appeal to females.”

He also admitted the Arctic weather had driven demand for sun breaks. He said bookings were also benefiting by comparison with last January, when the travel sector was first hit by the global financial crisis.

Fontenla-Novoa added: “People are feeling a bit more confident than last year but it’s not back to 2008 levels yet.”

UK bookings for this summer are still running eight per cent down on last year.

However, the average summer selling price is up two per cent and Fontenla-Novoa said he was confident the later booking trend would kick in.

He said the winter programme was 77 per cent sold, similar to last year, with the 10 per cent bookings decline being broadly in line with the eight per cent capacity cut.

Meanwhile, the average winter selling price is up six per cent helped by demand for all-inclusive deals as well as four and five-star hotels. And he said the economic downturn and the weak pound were helping the group to beat down hoteliers on price.

Thomas Cook’s core brands are Airtours, Condor, Direct Holidays, and Sunquest – with 3,400 shops
around the globe.

It has sales of around £9bn, with 22.3m customers and 31,000 employees.