Sunday, 18 November 2007

Thomas Cook (Germany)

Back in September I wrote about German tour operator TUI's presence in Second Life. Well it seems like they are not the only Germany holiday company to set up a virtual presence, as today I came across the Thomas Cook Island. I tend to think of Thomas Cook as a quintessentially English tour operator. Indeed, as the UK website tells me, Mr Cook himself actually "began his international travel company in 1841, with a successful one-day rail excursion at a shilling a head from Leicester to Loughborough on 5 July. From these humble beginnings Thomas Cook launched a whole new kind of company – devoted to helping Britons see the world." Mr Cook popped his clogs in 1892, at a respectable 83 years of age, but the company he founded has continued to grow and dversify. The Thomas Cook Group plc is now a €12 billion revenue business, employing 33,000 people globally and providing vacations to over 19 million people each year.

This island in Second Life, however, is not the Group's but rather its German subsidiary. The island also features its charter/low cost airline, Condor, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006.

On arrival you find yourself in a large glass dome, floating above the island itself. There are a couple of very basic orientation instructions - about how to move you avatar - but it is left to you to find the way out. To exit the dome, click on the Thomas Cook "welcome mat" - which causes a portion of the dome to slide open, letting you out onto a transparent walkway that leads down to the island surface. The island itself is broadly divided into 2 - the tropical side and the snowy , alpine side. As you wander about you will find more orientation tips (in German) and links to various company webpages. There is also a small Condor jet, but it flatly refused to let me even sit down in it - let alone go for a quick trip. Here are my snaps:

The alpine side is smaller, and seems to consist of a large alpine chalet on top of a snowy hill, and not much else. I noticed something high above the chalet, which closer inspection revealed to be a satellite. Why? Beats me.

There are a few places to relax by the beach, and there is some limited orientation information, coupled with the weblinks as mentioned above. But I got the impression that this island really doesn't know what it is trying to be. In fact, if pushed, I would say that it is not entirely complete yet. The alpine elements seemed particularly perfunctory, but the entire island seems to offer little to engage the visitor. This site falls a long way short of that belonging to their competitor, TUI.

And on the all-important issue of freebies?! There may be some, but I didn't find them. Nor any indication of events that might attract visitors.

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