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Customers' Awards 2011

New Award for 2011

Best Travel Guide Publisher

Category 2011

Best Travel Guide Publisher

Thomas Cook Travel Guides

Tell me about Thomas Cook travel guides …
It was around before the car, the plane and the telephone - Thomas Cook Publishing is more than 135 years old. What started life as a newspaper giving details of the company's trips within Britain now publishes more than 350 guidebooks to cities, regions and countries around the world, all of which are independently authored. Its books are sold in more than 60 countries and have been translated into several languages.

Tell me more about Thomas Cook travel guides ...
The Pocket Guides are for sun seekers or those taking a city break, while the Traveller Guides are aimed at mainstream travellers wanting to discover something different. They give details of the top sights and less well-known ones, suggestions for walks, tours and places off the beaten track, details of shops, restaurants and clubs, maps, practical information and an insight into the culture of the area. The Driving Guides include a list of the top 25 tours, suggestions for detours away from the tourist trail and walking tours round towns and cities, a driving guide, including a list of road signs, maps, and information on hotels, restaurants, sights and activities.

The Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable was the first guide the company published, and in June will reach its 1,500th edition. The guide is updated monthly by a dedicated team, lists 50,000 rail connections and runs to more than 500 pages. It also contains route maps, ferry times, and suggestions for scenic rail routes. Europe By Rail is a bestselling guide to exploring Europe on a budget, with information about attractions, hotels and restaurants as well as railways. The company also publishes rail maps of Europe, Britain and Ireland, as well as language guides and phrasebooks.

Who are Thomas Cook?
Astonishingly, the company started life as far back as 1841, when 32-year-old cabinet maker Thomas Cook was on his way to a temperance meeting. He believed most Victorian social problems were caused by alcohol and, as part of his efforts to turn people away from it, came up with the idea of organising a rail excursion, costing a shilling a head, to take temperance supporters from Leicester to a meeting in Loughborough. Cook continued to organise trips between towns in the Midlands, and his first commercial venture was a trip to Liverpool in 1845. He published a handbook for the journey - a forerunner of the modern holiday brochure - and developed his own newspaper to promote his tours, which soon branched out across the whole country. His meteoric rise saw him expand into Europe in the 1850s and America and Egypt in the 1860s.

Who are Thomas Cook travel guides aimed at?
The guides are aimed at independent travellers. Initially, they were designed for backpackers on a budget, but since the 1990s have catered for travellers on any budget.