Greetings from the New World!
For the first time, I am giving a title to my message, as so much has changed from 2019 and early 2020. I cannot stop counting, nor can I stop articulating the changes that the Pandemic has brought to the world we live in, both good and bad.
As I write this message, we have begun witnessing a rapid escalation back to normalcy across all our business units and companies, and the bad memories of the lock-down are, thankfully, becoming a faint memory. However, the changes that I referred to are here to stay. They have already changed the way we conduct our business, be it customer preferences, customer centricity, customer awareness, use of technology both internally and externally, supply chain disruption, demand-supply imbalance, geo-political issues, inflation, employee attrition etc. I can go on and on! Let’s be clear that many of these changes are permanent, though some will disappear once a semblance of stability returns.
For the Quarter ended 31st.December 2021, and the Quarter ended 31st. March 2022 , I am delighted to report that the Thomas Cook India Group has returned to profitability after nearly 18 months, or 6 quarters. This was on the back of an excellent performance from Sterling Holiday Resorts under the management of Ramesh Ramnathan , Desert Adventures lead by Peter Payet, and Digi photo (DEI) led by K.S Ramakrishnan. Additionally, the Foreign Exchange Business at Thomas Cook, India, led by Mahesh Iyer and Deepesh Varma, and the Corporate Travel Business across Thomas Cook and SOTC lead by Indiver Rastogi, contributed significantly to this achievement. For the Quarter ended 31st. March 2022 Thomas Cook India (stand-alone) also turned profitable. I expect that both Private Safaris East Africa and SOTC will turn profitable in the June Quarter of 2022. I would like to congratulate Ramesh, Peter, Ram and Mahesh for their achievements.
I am also delighted to report that we are witnessing a return of business to Asian Trails, TCI SITA, Private Safaris South Africa and Allied TPro all of which are dependent on long haul travel that has been slow to remerge.
A few phenomena that we have witnessed at all our units is the avalanche of business, commonly, if not incorrectly, referred to as “Revenge Travel”. We have witnessed this across all the retail and corporate businesses in leisure Travel, MICE, Corporate Travel and Foreign Exchange, DEI and Desert Adventures despite constraints of higher input costs like airfares, hotel costs and land transportation costs. We also witnessed new customer segments approaching us for bookings for leisure travel and foreign exchange in Thomas Cook and SOTC. Both the Teams took a leadership position by advertising on Digital/ Social media platforms as early as October 2021, and print media shortly thereafter with great success. Domestic or short haul leisure, and retail foreign exchange, was a major beneficiary of this effort.
I would like to use this opportunity to welcome Vikram Lalwani as the new MD & CEO of Sterling Holiday Resorts as Ramesh has decided to retire, and will function as Chairman of the Company till the end of 2022. I will use this opportunity to thank Ramesh for all his efforts, and for guiding Sterling back to profitability.
As we return to normalcy, we need to put the impact of the pandemic, both past present and future, behind us, and focus on addressing customer needs through the use of the upgraded technology that we have adopted.