“Change readiness is the new change management – It is the ability to continuously initiate and respond to change in ways that create advantage, minimize risk, and sustain performance.”
Luxe Asia–Sri Lanka has certainly proved the efficacy of this statement. It has had a hectic year with huge changes, but the staff have gamely accepted the new set-up after it was bought by Thomas Cook India last year. Chaminda Dias, the MD of the company has ably steered it through some of the challenge. We asked him to give us a brief overview of the year that was, and tell us a bit more about this little company that is doing big things.
2016 was the first complete year for Luxe Asia under the purview of Thomas Cook India (TCIL). With the subsequent acquisition of SITA by TCIL, Luxe Asia began its direct cooperation with SITA where Dipak Deva, MD Travel Corporation of India Ltd., was appointed to the board of Luxe Asia. Under Dipak’s guidance the process was initiated to operate in Sri Lanka under a multiple brand strategy where SITA, Luxe Asia, Distant Frontiers as well as TCI, were to operate under its own brand supported by a unified operation. The objective was established to develop the structure and operation in Sri Lanka to resemble that of India, with emphasis on quality service delivery.
The business was segmented based on the strength of each brand in each source market, and Luxe Asia took on the responsibility of developing the Middle Eastern and Asian markets which include India, China and Japan. SITA was given the responsibility of handling all European Markets except for the Spanish Market, where Luxe Asia has a significant business base as well as a successful representation.
TCI and Distant Frontiers (DF) began to operate in Sri Lanka through a brand licensing agreement with Luxe Asia. A dedicated team was set up for DF which became an extension of the Indian team working closely with Delhi, and the DF reps around the world, to develop the capability of developing high-spec, high-quality incentives in Sri Lanka. The team was successful in securing and operating multiple incentives in 2016. The pipeline for incentives has now been well established and this level of specialisation in this segment makes DF unique in Sri Lanka as the only specialised incentive operator. Additionally, Luxe Asia added Cruise handling capability in 2016 and handled its first cruise ship operation in November. There are 5 ships scheduled for 2017 so far.
The largest source market for Luxe Asia in 2016, in terms of arrivals, was the Indian market. The Indian team began its cooperation with the Thomas Cook Domestic and MICE teams resulting in a significant increase in arrivals. In 2016 Luxe Asia also began to make inroads with SOTC. Through these partnerships in India, Luxe Asia is looking forward to a watershed year in the Indian market where we hope to capture a significant share of arrivals to Sri Lanka.
Another success in 2016 has been the Spanish market which is the largest contributor to the bottom line and the Japanese market which has been developed together with the TCI office in Japan. Luxe Asia also worked closely with the French market team at SITA in Delhi to develop a special B2B2C operation which has also yielded tremendous success.
In terms of misses for Luxe Asia in 2016, it was decided to shut down the Chinese market as the yields from this market had been declining. A decision was made to work with a newly appointed SITA representative to develop new and better yielding market segments from China.
The Luxe Asia team also participated in many trade sporting events and became the travel trade Bowling champions and runners-up in 2016. The Luxe Asia team also became 6 a side cricket champs at a special event organised to celebrate a milestone for the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. We sponsored the Travel Trade Swimming competition for the 5th consecutive year where Nishadi from the French market won back-to-back medals.
Overall it has been a challenging and rewarding year for Luxe Asia in equal measure with many successes to be proud of. I would like to thank my young, energetic team that has been so supportive and has accepted the changes and challenges of the past year with equanimity. And together we are now geared and ready to take on 2017 with renewed confidence and commitment.
—Chaminda Dias, MD—
Luxe Asia–Sri Lanka