The party’s over for Club 18-30 as Thomas Cook retires the brand
In its prime the drunken trysts of Club 18-30 holiday reps and revellers provided the action for a fly-on-the-wall TV series so debauched the then Tory MP Ann Widdecombe labelled it “moral anarchy”.
However, the party’s over and 2018 will be the last summer of love for Club 18-30: its owner Thomas Cook is retiring a brand that once attracted hundreds of complaints after using the advertising slogan “Beaver Espana” to attract bookings. The tour operator had put the name, which has been going since the 60s, up for sale in the spring but has decided to axe it after offers fell short of its expectations.
“We are increasingly focused on our core own-brand hotel portfolio and feel that the Club 18-30 brand no longer fits in with our wider programme,” said Ingo Burmester, the UK chief executive of the high street tour operator. “Having taken the summer to explore our options we have, in the absence of a viable alternative that makes sense for Thomas Cook or the brand, decided that Club 18-30 will close at the end of this season.”
The decision means that holidaymakers booked to fly from Manchester to Magaluf on Mallorca on 27 October will be on the last Club 18-30 trip. The company said the small number of permanent Thomas Cook staff working on the brand would be offered alternative roles, while its reps were employed on seasonal contracts and could apply for other work next year.
The rise of low-cost airlines and online travel agents has forced a rethink at Thomas Cook. The company made its name selling package holidays but now finds cost-conscious holidaymakers are increasingly happy to use the web to plan their own itineraries.
Thomas Cook’s shares plunged 25% last month when it issued a profit warning after the European summer heatwave led to a fall in demand for last-minute foreign trips. Annual profits are expected to come in at £280m, down from previous estimates of £323m. The shares have lost more than half of their value this year and last week hit their lowest level since the 2016 EU referendum.
Thomas Cook has already moved on from Club 18-30 with the recent launch of the more upmarket brand Cook’s Club, which is aimed at millennials. Rather than sex and sangria, the trendy advertising blurb for Cook’s Club promises holidays where you can sample a “melting pot of cultures” and fill up on affordable “vegan delights”.
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