Innovation: The IPL Season 1 Results!

The Winning Teams wikth some of the judges

Many of you, in Thomas Cook, may remember that in Issue 2 2015 of the Tidings, we had told you about the Innovation Premier League” (IPL).

We had been looking for new ways to inject fresh energy into the business, which would involve more people across grades and locations. With Cricket being so popular in India’s culture, an analogy our staff can relate with, what evolved was our own IPL.

It functioned in the same way the IPL does… with hand-picked teams and captains and competitive performances! And yes! You could appoint cheer-leaders too!

  • Each Execom member had handpicked 10 core members from all Grade 4 and above employees who form his/her core team.
  • There were 9 teams, and each team represented a Zodiac star sign!
  • So essentially, we had 10 teams, who met every month, starting with last October, who had to come up with at least one major idea and 1 minor idea per team.
  • At the end of 12 months, There would be a review of the work done by each team with equal weight given to the Idea (originality/innovation) and Impact (results/ROI)

The twelve months were over…It was time for the results! There were many interesting proposals and projects… and it was tough to pick the best.

In the build up to the grand finale of the IPL, Season 1, a battle-like atmosphere was created with teasers and e-mailers at regular intervals reminding the teams of the gruelling battle ahead. Finally, on the 16th of August, the tougher-than-nails jury comprising of Madhavan Menon, Mahesh Iyer, Vishal Suri and Ramesh Jude Thomas were there in the Board Room of D.N. Road, Mumbai to make their choice. The event was moderated by Abraham Alapatt.

Eventually, 3 teams emerged victorious – Team Scorpio (BancaFX), Team Gemini (Holiday Club), and Team Taurus (Landmarks).

What made them successful? How did they implement their ideas? Read on, and let each team tell you how and what they did!


5-scorpioTeam Scorpio was one of the 9 Teams that presented their ideas, and we were delighted to know our efforts had resulted in winning the first prize!

Our idea was for the foreign exchange domain – simple, low on cost and highly impactful, we called it – BancaFX.

For every idea to be commercially successful, it needs to address a pertinent problem/issue/gap. To enhance it, we can implement technology, to give it ease and transparency.

The genesis of our idea was created from the fact that, on one side was the gap in the Banking sector, where most of the banks focus on promoting core banking products while ignoring Travel related FX requirements of their huge customer base, since it requires expertise, dedicated manpower, skill sets, and has a relatively higher risk. On the other side, we as TCIL, being a non-bank entity, have the capability – breadth and depth of our product/services portfolio, coupled with a good network and trained manpower – to serve these Bank customers, as and when they require forex.

To enable us to track the leads from the source to fulfillment, we created a CRM enabled web based Lead Generation Tool. This tool would be offered to every partner, where their branch network could log in, feed the details of the customer who needed help in forex, the leads at a TCIL branch mapped to the Bank Branch at the back end. Once the transaction was done the revenue would be shared with the Partner on a monthly basis. For a partner it would be substantial additional revenue generated from the existing customer base without having to spend any additional money. For TCIL, we get access to a new customer base thereby enabling us to increase our Retail portfolio.

With technology it would assure transparency and lot of trust in the relationship.

We have launched this tool with SVC Co-operative Bank Ltd. where 190+ branches of theirs can now source forex leads! The initial results have been very encouraging and we are talking to many potential partners to launch BancaFX with them.

The team’s captain was Shibani Phadkar and other key members were Prakash Venkat, Suhas Shetty, Santhosh Kanna, Harish Muralidhar, Mou Sengupta, Saurabh Paul & Jayadev Rajagopal.

Jayadev Rajagopal for Team Scorpio



Trigger for the idea

With increasing disposable incomes and a growing DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids ) population, more people are taking holidays than ever before. They not only actively look forward to a holiday, but religiously plan and mark their calendars well in advance. India is now one of the fastest growing internet populations, with over 300 million Indians having access to internet, largely due the smart phone revolution. E-commerce companies like Flipkart and Amazon have over 60 million registered users, who are comfortable shopping online and using their Credit/ Debit cards without worrying about security, which was an apprehension not so long ago.

Looking inwards

In the last 2 years we have actively focussed on building an online business which is now significant enough, and one of largest in the online packages holiday business. Interestingly, 65 % of our online transactions are now coming from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, out of which 60% customers are in the 24 to 40 years age group. We also see a trend where an average customer of ours takes atleast 2 holidays a year, one is usually an International holiday and other is a short domestic get-away. We also see a pattern amongst the younger travellers – the first few holidays they take ( after taking up a job or being independent ) are usually Asian / Middle-Eastern destinations. This segment of customers lives for the present, and doesn’t really worry too much about saving for the future. They don’t think twice before buying an I-phone worth Rs.70,000 at an EMI of Rs.6000.  

Combining the two to create a compelling proposition

The idea is to create a 2 year holiday plan, HOLIDAY CLUB as we call it, which offers 4 Holidays packed into one product, making it affordable for customers by offering an attractive EMI option of Rs.4400 per month.  We plan to tie-up with banks and NBFCs (such as Tata Capital & Bajaj Finserve ) to offer loans at subsidised interest rates.

Holiday Club will have 27 different combinations of products, divided into 3 tiers – Gold, Silver & Platinum, offering various permutations for bundling destinations like Thailand, Dubai, Singapore, Mauritius, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Andamans, Kashmir, Kerala & Ladakh. Customers can choose any of these 27 combinations and his/her holiday plan for the next 2 years would be sorted in one go.     Moreover, the products are priced very aggressively, even on a standalone basis as we get visibility of the bookings at least 18 months in advance which enables us to plan and procure well in advance too.  We aim to launch this by December 2017 and hope to promote it aggressively on

Avinash Janjire for Team Gemini



Team Taurus started off as a cross functional team sponsored by Debasis Nandy and led by Daksh Sharma with critical inputs from Abe. The team did several rounds of intensive brain storming sessions which resulted in 22 unique ideas! This was further analysed and filtered down to two ideas.

The big idea was the “Landmark project”, which was meant to address two opportunities at the same time – leveraging on internal buying strength to have the best rates for attractions across travel business units.  However, the bigger opportunity was to go out in the B2B market and offer them solutions for standalone attractions at a competitive price.

We started with mapping the opportunity, for which intensive market research was carried out. The insights that emerged helped us to fine tune our go to market strategy. This also further validated the viability of executing this project.

The final presentation had a comprehensive business plan with workable opportunities and clear time lines. The presentation also laid down the stand alone profitability of the proposal along with cash flow benefits.

Since the team was composed of members based in multiple locations, and belonging to multiple functions, it faced the obvious challenge of coordinating meetings and ensuring that all members were equally involved in the proceedings.  In addition, the departure of key resources mid way through the project due to various reasons proved to be a challenge. This was addressed by the addition of new members which brought in fresh energy and ideas.

The biggest take away for this cross functional team was to learn the different aspects of business which were not necessarily core to those individuals – fragmented nature of the travel industry, consolidated buying , dynamics of B2B market,  technology , market research,  and putting all this together as a cohesive business plan.

On a lighter vein, we would all remember Daksh’s attempts to “wake up”  some of the members on a con-call, and the popular joke in the office that the project contributed more to the attrition levels in the company than the profitability.  And, of course, now we can all laugh about the way we scrambled presentations together just in time for IPL meetings! It was a valuable learning experience.

Debasis Nandy for Team Taurus