The demise of Thomas Cook is a testament to the profound changes faced by the tourism industry. It also contains clues as to its future direction of travel.

Contrary to expectations, bricks and mortar travel agencies haven’t been annihilated. In the U.S., there are now 79,000 travel agents in employment, compared with 85,000 12 years ago, according to official data. Roughly half of all U.S. travel is still booked offline, according to industry research firm Phocuswright, allowing traditional package holidays to ride on the coattails of the recent travel boom.

However, something fundamental did change: brand power. Before the rise of online booking - let alone when Thomas Cook was born in 1841 - travelers relied on the tour operator brand not just for simplicity and peace of mind, but also to ensure a certain level of quality when staying in unknown countries.