Thomas Cook & the Internet of Cockroaches

We all know the Internet of Things (IoT) — it is the now widely accepted industry term used to describe a network of connected ‘intelligent’ devices that enjoy a degree on on board analytics and a connection to a cloud back-end for wider exposure to processing, storage and deeper levels of algorithmic intelligence.

But what is the Internet of Cockroaches (IoC) and does it exist?

Spoiler alert, no it doesn’t exist and this is a Christmas Eve type of story, but there is a technical point to me made here.


Faced with the prospect of another chilly wintry yuletide in Blighty, Mrs B and I opted to don’t just book it Thomas Cook it over to Corrallejo in Fuertoventura for a week in the Hesperia Bristol Playa resort.

After a nice flight, which left the UK roughly 10 hours before Gatwick Airport was closed due to drone sightings, we made it over to the hotel. Our first night room was directly north facing, so we paid for an upgraded room overlooking the pool — all still good at this point.

Off we went to sleep on the second night, but only for a few hours, I spent most of the night killing cockroaches. One or two would have been fine, but we had about six uninvited guests — and this happened for two nights running.

La Cucaracha

Now then, Fuertoventura is only a few miles from Western Sahara, so you have to accept a few critters and bugs, but it is arguably fair to suggest that a dozen cucarachas tips over the acceptable limit for any hotel room. We had a lot of ants too, but that’s enough… let’s get to the technology.

Thomas Cook might not be able to use technology to remotely ensure its hotel rooms are always clean and free of bugs, but it does operate a very responsive online feedback service at <[email protected]>.

We decided to take photos of all the cockroach squishing and send them to our local ‘rep’ and the connected service at 4am. You receive and automated response and so it’s logical to think that you’re going to be dealing with a chatbot at best — but no, Thomas Cook appears to station human beings in call centres all around the world to deal with holidaymakers issues.

We got human responses from agents in the middle of the night that (from their names) appeared to be in Greece, India and the UK as follows:

“This is something you shouldn’t have to be doing in the middle of the night. I have spoken with Jerry [the night manager] and he has advised you can use another room just so you can get some rest for this evening. As soon as someone comes in for the day shift working on reception they are going to rectify the situation so you do not have to endure this any longer and come up with a more permanent solution to your problems,” wrote Jade Paxford, connected consultant, Thomas Cook Connected Service.

With the rise of chatbots and AI on our doorstep, it was strangely comforting to find that a human being had picked up the phone and dealt with the issue using real interpersonal skills.

I went to reception at 8am and found that a better room had already been allocated. Our local rep Josephine Ninian also followed up with a personal meeting to offer a supportive ear and free cocktail or two.

Feliz Navidad

So all’s well that ends well at Christmas then?

Yes, for the most part.

We haven’t quite managed to ‘motion tag’ cockroaches and build hotel rooms with automated bug killing systems that kick in when you go to sleep, but if you’re listening Thomas Cook… then that might be an idea for the future please guys.

It’s Christmas isn’t it… so the Internet of Cockroaches (IoC) can be real, just for one day.

La Cucaracha killer

Dead Cucaracha

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