Third world project financing at IHA meeting

Third world project financing at IHA meeting

For~¢m /Reports son, brought up from birth as a total abstainer, built the Cook empire. This hard-bitten tycoon whose God was Samuel Smiles and who ha...

209KB Sizes 0 Downloads 13 Views

For~¢m /Reports son, brought up from birth as a total abstainer, built the Cook empire. This hard-bitten tycoon whose God was Samuel Smiles and who had been trained in profit-making business as General Excursion Manager for the Great Eastern Railway before rejoining his father, had no truck with Thomas's confused idealism. The business had to make a profit. The high-flown sentiments flowing from Thomas Cook's pen month after month in the monthly magazine published by the father and son partnership found no echo in his heart. He never contributed one pious paragraph. He never had the time, for he was fully engaged in empire building, consolidating the ephemeral structure which had been created piecemeal by his unbusinesslike parent. Once he accused his father of never making a penny profit from any of the excursions he had organized. All had been run at a loss! Only he, John Mason Cook, had the acumen to watch the pennies and produce the pounds. In reply came the covert suggestion that the reason there were no profits was because the son had robbed his father time and again! This was hotly denied and a life-long quarrel had begun. John Mason Cook then took over the reins and ran the business, opening offices throughout the world and creating the largest ever travel organization backed by

chaos of the early 1920s. But for him, Cooks would have sunk without a trace, for Frank had neglected the masses in favour of providing hand-made travel arrangements for the rich. Only the realization that death duties would have to be paid by a surviving partner, forced his brother and himself to sell out to their chief competitor at the time, WagonsLits, at a grossly inflated figure based on the extravagant gains Cooks had made in marks and francs during the preceding three years. The International Sleeping Car Company of Brussels, known as Wagon-Lits, had been sold a pup, for despite all the promises, Cooks Tours never produced more than a profit of 1%, rather less than what could be assured from the 'Funds'. The new owners had been conned - - and just before the world depression of 1929. Half of Cooks' employees were sacked and the rest put on half-pay. Nevertheless but for the Belgian owners, Cooks would have become bankrupt. The charisma of Thomas Cook Worldwide business has survived the years of railway ownership and nationalization. John Mason Cook was a hard man, but succeeded in developing a Under private ownership, the group is active throughout the world under philanthropic institution into a worldwide business which survived the aegis of the Midland Bank. Thomas Cook the man would be three sons, Thomas, Frank, and Ernest; the last, with considerable pleased, for it is not unto everyone, that such material eternity is financial skills, saved the granted. partnership from disaster with his Bill Cormack adroit manipulation of currency London, UK deals during the foreign exchange

finance created by the ingenious use of circular notes, later given the name travellers' cheques by American Express. He lacked the humanity of his father. He paid his managers well with mouth-watering commissions, some of them becoming comparatively wealthy. On retirement, one manager was able to buy a large hotel in Bournemouth outright with the money he had saved. The clerks behind the counter and in the counting house were paid as little as possible and treated as underlings. One, Higgins, had the temerity to become engaged to John Mason Cook's sister Anne who was employed in their Fleet Street office helping with the hotel side of the business. John Mason sacked him on the spot and sent Anne packing to his father's home in Leicester where she died in peculiar circumstances having succumbed it was stated at the inquest, to fumes emitted from a newly installed gas water heater in the bathroom. The reports suggest that it was a case of suicide.

Reports Third World project financing at IHA meeting 250 delegates from 30 countries attended the Convention and 70th Council Meeting of the International Hotel Association in Kathmandu, Nepal, 29 October to 3 November 1981. One item of general significance (and especially

Tourism Management March 1982

relevant to developing countries) was introduced by Mr Jonathan Bodlender, Managing Director of Horwath & Horwath (UK) Ltd. This was the first public announcement of the initiative of an International Private Sector Financial Institution for Tourism

Projects, which is supported by the World Tourism Organization and thus indirectly, it is hoped, by the United Nations Development Programme. The idea is based on the premise that tourism is presently, and probably for the whole decade, one of the few growth industries internationally. Yet many countries lack the necessary investment funds, and many excellent projects do not materialize because of political or

61

Reports currency risk. Risk can be limited by spread - - particularly if the spread of profitable or potentially profitable projects can outweigh the risk inherent in any one of them. Many private sector banks now accept that tourism is a growth industry and a potentially profitable one. If the risk can be limited, or covered by profits elsewhere, they could possibly be persuaded to provide funds. The proposed Institution would invest in developed and hard currency countries as well as developing ones, to ensure a balanced portfolio and adequate spread. Investment decisions would remain in the hands of the Institution's shareholders or participators, and would be nonpolitical.

Asian office Another, albeit less important, item relevant to some developing countries was the idea that the IHA establish a regional office in Asia. Representatives from Nepal and India agreed to explore this further, and to come back in due course with concrete suggestions. There were two other administrative decisions which could ultimately produce results of general interest. One was to set up an International Hotel Operators Advisory Group, composed of representatives of the international hotel chains in membership of the IHA. This group is chaired by Mr Peter Balas, President for Europe and North Africa of InterContinental Hotels. The main objective is to discuss both problems specific to hotel chains and those of mutual interest to chain and independent IHA member hotels. The group will advise on the formulation of policies on legislative and other matters of special concern to international hotel operators, making representations to intergovernmental organisations and individual governments. The group will also monitor the activities of such

62

bodies, and will also exchange information regarding matters of interest to members (eg on labour, taxation; on conservation, reservations, and back office; on new equipment and materials, and their testing). It was also decided to establish a Restaurant Committee, the purpose being to look after the interests of restaurants and restaurant chains in I H A

membership (and, in particular, the independent ones). The committee will have 20 members, under the chairmanship of Mr. Lars Lendrop, a leading restaurant operator in Sweden. The work programme of the Committee is still under discussion. Further information can be obtained from the IHA, 89 rue du Fauborg St Honor6, 75008 Paris, France.

"Teletravel" in, agencies out by 1995 A 24-hour electronic travel service carrying airline schedules and rate information, hotel vacancies, and a host of other information normally provided by the neighbourhood travel agent, may soon be offered to travellers via a computer-linked TV, according to an article in VideoPrint newsletter. ~ The article predicts a 'major' impact on the travel agency business due to recent advances in electronic information delivery, whereby a user can actually enter into a specially adapted TV set all the information necessary to plan, schedule, and even pay for a vacation or business trip. This can be done quickly, in the home and long after conventional travel agencies have closed for the day. According to Steve Weissman, contributing editor to VideoPrint, "It's just a matter of time until some enterprising information provider opens the first 'electronic travel agency', ultimately forcing the full-service agent of today to become a wholesaler of videotex pages of travelling aids".

"Movie Map" The major airlines are already exploring transactional transportation services, which could prove extremely lucrative, especially during high "information demand" periods such as during an air traffic controllers' strike. An M I T research project could prove quite popular for travellers, and perhaps

even replace travel. This system, the "Movie Map", utilizes still photographs stored on videodiscs and projects them in rapid succession to stimulate motion through a town. A user can therefore 'see" the places he wants to visit, go into some buildings along the way, and even read the menus of selected restaurants simply by indicating them on a touch-sensitive screen. Or a potential traveller, uncertain as to where to go, could selectively view points of interest and decide on a destination by "visiting' unfamiliar locations and comparing the options available. However the technology is put to use, VideoPrint expects the demise of the traditional travel agency by 1995. Availability

VideoPrint is a twice-monthly newsletter published by International Resource Development Inc, a market research and management consulting firm which has been studying and analysing telecommunications and information-handling markets since the company was founded in 1971. Reference 1. A free copy of the l'ideoPrint issue with the analysis discussing "'TeleTravel and transactional services" may be obtained from VideoPrint at 30 High Street, Norwalk. CT 06851. USA (Tel: 203-866-6914: Telex 64 3452).

Tourism Management March 1982