Travel: Cooking Up a New Menu

A recent survey found Thos. Cook & Son to be by far the world's best-known travel agency. The same study reported that Cook's image was that of a stable but stodgy and relatively expensive company. In that sense, the travel agency that started it all in the early Victorian era, 127 years ago, has become a sleeping king of the travel industry. Smug and content with its middle-class clientele, it has ignored both old competitors and the newcomers to the business who have harnessed the boom of cheap package tours.

Heavy Hand. Thos. Cook & Son is now trying to...