Club 18-30 was founded in the 1960s to offer package holidays for young people who wanted to travel without families or children. The brand really took off in the 1970s with the arrival of cheaper airfares. Suddenly, your meagre budget no longer stretched to just a tent in the Lake District, but to a hotel in Lloret de Mar. You could swap your thermos of tea and incessant rain for sangria and guaranteed sunshine. Not to mention the potential for — an extremely brief in some instances — holiday romance.
Many thousands indeed saw the appeal. At the company’s height of popularity, around 110,000 young people would go on a Club 18-30 holiday each summer, bringing in £48 million pounds worth of sales each year.
The company went through a succession of owners over the years but ended up as part of Thomas Cook. Then, in October 2018, Thomas Cook announced that the Club 18–30 brand would cease to exist. The last band of intrepid Club 18-30 holiday makers made their way home to Manchester from Magaluf on 30 October 2018.
What changed? Why did such a popular concept fall from grace? The sun is still there, after all, and the seaside, and the sangria.
In their own report (PDF) Thomas Cook noted the rise of what it called “ego travel” within the age range that its brand name targeted. As they noted:
“It’s not just millennials who like to post their holiday exploits on social media. But it is mostly millennials who say that social media posts are a factor when choosing a hotel — over half (52%) of 18-24 years olds consider it during the booking process.”
Yes, it’s all because of Instagram. You don’t just go on holiday any more. You go on holiday to show other people that you’re on holiday. You go on holiday somewhere cool and creative. A banana boat in Benidorm just doesn’t cut it as your profile picture any more.
Besides, in this Internet age of dating apps and price comparisons, we don’t need a holiday rep to hold our hand for a week in the abroad. We’re quite capable of organising our own hen weekend in Skopje, thank you.
Just as well, now the ego has landed.