14th June 2021 was an auspicious day for our Company. It was the day our corporate offices began reopening in stages, according to an established timeline, after months and months of mostly working-from-home.
To mark the occasion a simple “Welcome Back’ puja was held on the 11th and 13th floors of the Marathon Futurex Head Office in Mumbai. The chant of the puja ‘aarti’, sung with great fervor and sincerity by those present, created a feeling of optimism, hope, and safety. The Leadership Team was there to greet and receive the staff.
There was an air of anticipation and excitement, a back-to-school atmosphere, searching for desks, catching up with colleagues, many expressing their joy at finally being physically back at work. It was amusing to see the split-second hesitation trying to decipher the vaguely familiar face behind the mask, before that spark of recognition, and the offering of the elbow in greeting!
The Coronavirus pandemic that hit us in 2020, set the world reeling. The travel, tourism and hospitality industry was decimated by the outbreak. It put a hole in the revenues, and strategies of hundreds of brands across the sector.
Naturally, we felt the impact too. Many staff struggled, not only with demands at work, but also from stresses of family, financial concerns and mainly health. Sadly, some had to cope with the loss of loved ones too.
Despite the huge hit in the travel business globally, our Heads and Executives kept the company firmly together, motivating the staff, staying in constant touch with them, keeping an eye on their physical and mental well-being.
For the Thomas Cook India Group, it was a time to reassess, rebuild and re-emerge from the crisis. We pushed through the challenges with grace and positivity. With the tremendous support and leadership of our MD, Madhavan Menon, and the constant connection between the top management and our staff, we unlocked our strengths. Our Heads reached out to their teams to refocus their energies, and reconsider their strategies on business activity. There were major changes in business models and consumer behaviour. Contingent business plans to reconsider customer acquisition and restore customer confidence, were discussed and implemented. Lockdown time was used for up-skilling education and training programmes.
Our MDs and CEOs communicated regularly with our customers and partners. The staff made supportive calls to our clients to check on them during the lockdowns. There were physical and virtual Consumer Carnivals/ Road shows. There was Holiday and MICE Connect through newsletters. A diversity of Holiday Products were launched — Staycations, Drivecations, Workations, Spiritual Wellness and Private Journeys that offered easy access, closer to home, safe travel, also ‘Go Now Pay Later’ holidays.
We emphasized and provided Health and Safety to regain the confidence of our customers — Assured, Insured, Secured. There was TravShield – a travel safety commitment, encompassing our assured safety protocols, in association with Apollo Clinics. These included Covid-negative certification, a doctor on call, and a Safe Holiday Helpline. We had tie-ups with Marriott and Accor to build confidence in travel and customer needs.
We also focused on leveraging technology towards contactless travel, which included Remote Diallers-VPN Agent Network, Virtual Holiday and Forex Stores, CT Tool and the Forex Online model—Forex Mate.
Loyal and dedicated employees are the foundation of any organization. All our staff, whether working from home, or on site, adapted admirably to the tough and unfamiliar conditions, achieving a new level of work-life balance. Many went beyond the call of duty to meet the challenges. Colleagues reached out to each other and to their clients, to offer support at this difficult time. Amid all the suffering and anxiety caused by the Corona virus pandemic, our teams across the globe showed great courage and resilience in dealing with their difficulties.
The HR Department helped keep the equilibrium by ensuring Fun ‘D’ Mentals had the employees entertained engaged, and motivated. Quizzes, competitions, fun-activities all brought back a degree of normalcy and much needed relaxation. It also gave a sense of bonding and belonging.
The Management took great care of its employees, following strict Covid-safety protocols in the workplace. The Company also arranged for all staff to enroll in a vaccination programme so they and their families could get their jabs before safely resuming work. This was extremely helpful in times of vaccine shortage. It was mandatory for all employees to have at least one dose before being allowed to join work physically.
This issue of PULSE portrays some of the struggles, the ordeals, the adjustments, the obstacles, but more importantly, it is a symbol of hope, of triumph against adversity, of fortitude and strength, of optimism.
Read the responses of our CEOs and MDs, when we asked them how their respective businesses tackled the biggest challenge of our times, and how their teams had handled the ‘new normal’. Be heartened by their vision for the future.
Read about the “Heroes”, who shone like stars. Thomas Cook recognized and lauded them for their exemplary dedication and commitment. Others were acknowledged for working diligently and selflessly, despite setbacks, by getting promotions, and Appreciation Certificates.
Read about how we are leveraging technology to create scalable solutions, and how we have learnt vital lessons on response mechanisms.
Read about the training and self-development sessions. Explore the “Virtual World of Learning”, and programmes such as STARS, “Go Mobile- the New Wow”, “The Power of We”, and many team-specific training and other “Learning Shots”.
Enjoy some of the wonderful personal stories by individuals describing how they adapted their lifestyles, how they learnt new skills; how they discovered talents they didn’t know they possessed!
Nothing in history has shown more clearly than COVID-19, that society now must rejig its economic, social and governance structures to ‘expect the unexpected’. The goals of decision-making, whether local or global, must now add resilience to the environmental, economic and empowerment criteria of sustainability.
Our company is reset for growth and success beyond the pandemic, emerging stronger.
We are hoping the world that emerges from this period will be a kinder and more harmonious one…..A world with more empathy and dignity, celebrating the best in human kindness and understanding. We have seen magnificent and heroic efforts of solidarity between our staff and the management. A sense of fundamental anchor is being created, where safety and bonding keep the miracle of life alive.
That is what PULSE is all about. A beacon of hope and an inspiration for the future!