Thomas Cook has a tendency to put costs ahead of customer experience, a review of its health and safety practices, following the deaths of two children at one of its resorts, has found.
Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged six and seven, died when toxic gas leaked from a faulty boiler at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the Greek island in 2006.
In May, an inquest into their deaths found the travel firm had "breached their duty of care", and that they had been unlawfully killed.
The report, into Thomas Cook's customer, health, safety, welfare and crisis management, found that processes for crises or incidents which have a major impact on customers "is set up for success and appears to work well".
But the report, carried out by former Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King CBE, concluded that some parts of the business were putting financial priorities ahead of customers' needs.
Although the travel firm has a "risk dashboard" process to identify key risks, "there is an over-emphasis on financial and reputational risk and less emphasis on customer consequences and outcomes than is appropriate", the report also found.
In a statement, Thomas Cook, conceded that the review "makes for uncomfortable reading in parts"
Chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said: "Nine years ago, two children died in Corfu while on holiday with us: Robert and Christianne Shepherd. It took us nine years to correct the mistakes of the past and to do what everyone would have expected of us; treat the family with the respect and empathy they deserve.
The travel firm also revealed that the following actions would be taken immediately:
- A commitment to lead Carbon Monoxide awareness initiatives in the travel industry through the Safer Tourism Foundation established by Thomas Cook with Sharon Wood to be launched on 16th November.
- Going forward we intend to report on our progress with both customer satisfaction and health and safety as a standard part of our full and half year results to reflect their importance to our business.
- Increased investment in customer service and the imminent launch of a 24-hour hotel satisfaction promise.
- Increasing the number of overseas staff and investing in equipment and training.
- A review of its health and safety audit policy.
- Customer satisfaction to be introduced as a core indicator of its management performance review with immediate effect.
Responding to the publication of the report, Christi and Bobby parent's Sharon Wood and Neil Shepherd said: "We welcome Justin King’s report and Thomas Cook’s new proactive approach in addressing the mistakes they made that led to the deaths of Christi & Bobby.