Crises can make or break businesses and, as tragedies go, Tui Group is handling the fallout from the Tunisia terror attack in June remarkably well.
The travel company, which operates the Thomson and First Choice brands, said it took a €10m (£7.1m) hit in its third quarter and could lose up to another €30m in its fourth quarter. A small price to pay really, considering the death of 38 people, 33 who were on Tui holidays.
As is only right for a customer-facing business, the tragedy was front and centre of the firm’s results announcement and chief executive Peter Long’s interview with the BBC this morning.
‘This is the most tragic event and loss of human life that I have ever had to deal with or my company and we remain deeply shocked in terms of the loss of life, those customers that were injured and all the trauma that our customers had to go through, through these terrible events,’ he said.
‘We were 100% focused on making sure that our customers were looked after and that was our number one priority.’
Meanwhile, the company has cancelled all holidays to Tunisia, as per foreign office advice, although most customers have rebooked for other destinations. And if that wasn’t enough, the economic turmoil in Greece has also hit holidays there.
Natural disasters, economic collapses and terrorist attacks are all occupational hazards in the travel industry, albeit extremely rare ones. Nonetheless, by dealing with the Tunisia attack quickly and sensitively, Tui seems to have escaped any direct reputational damage. The same can’t be said, for example, of Merlin, as it was directly at fault for the Smiler rollercoaster crash, although its crisis handling was a darn sight better than Thomas Cook’s.
And even though net profits of €49.4m were less than a third of the €157m analysts had forecast, Tui’s relatively upbeat full-year predictions were clearly better than investors were expecting: shares were up more than 6% in mid-morning trading.