As SOTC celebrates its 70th Anniversary, we asked Managing Director Vishal Suri to share his journey
in the company with us.
Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.
– Walt Disney
As I look back at what has transpired over the years, I am extremely proud of our achievements at SOTC. It is a momentous milestone to celebrate 70 years of Travel, and I am very happy to be a part of this journey.
It began when I joined the company as Deputy Chief Operating Officer in August 2012. I was responsible for growth and operations of the Leisure Travel (Outbound & Domestic) & MICE business in India. Ever since then, I embarked on a mission to make “Holidays a Priority” for Indian consumers in the market. This mission strongly resonated with our customers, and helped us sell more holidays across our network. Our holiday propositions reduced holiday consumption barriers creating perfect moments for our travellers.
With added responsibilities in 2013 as the CEO of Tour Operating, we launched a television commercial (TVC) in line with the new brand architecture for their mainstream holiday business. The commercial highlighted the brand promise of ‘We are for holidays’ and inspired consumers across segments to stand up for their holidays.
It was in 2016 that I was appointed Managing Director. In December 2015, we became a part of Fairfax Financial Holdings and the Thomas Cook India Group. Consequently, we are now a formidable player in the Indian travel space. This journey has been instrumental in giving me the opportunity to effectively help in managing change and transformation here at SOTC. With a fervent focus on four pillars: Customer Delight, Collaboration, Operational Excellence and Innovation, we have grown to be leaders in segments, namely Group Holidays, Customised Holidays, Domestic Holidays and Incentive Travel and have created new markets through our innovative propositions.
We have embarked on a journey placing our customers at the center of our product creation process, with the new initiative called “Co-Create” – an innovation in the Leisure Holiday segment. In our constant endeavor to enhance customer delight, SOTC Travel introduced “Holiday Essentials” a retail portfolio for hassle free travel. Under “Dhruv”- our CRM initiative, we initiated a customer-centric culture and worked towards building a customer focused organization. Our Key Aspiration was to become an organization that is Customer Obsessed, where we wish to keep the customer at the center of all that we create. Being the pioneer in Indian travel space SOTC entered the integrated spiritual + leisure segment with the introduction of Spiritual Tours ‘Darshans’ that received a good response.
In 2017 we entered the travel e-commerce space with an all new sotc.in website, offering an integrated digital experience. The online business saw a remarkable performance, and is expected to provide further impetus to our omni channel strategy. Today we are proud to have over 160 outlets across India and NRI markets, allowing seamless engagement with us across both our physical and digital platforms and re-enforcing our Omni-channel strategy. To stay aligned with our customers’ needs and expectations we successfully launched the SOTC Engage App. In 2018, we achieved another milestone by venturing into the Forex business bringing convenience to the traveller to book forex.
SOTC Business Travel caters to some of the top Indian and Multi National Enterprises. The introduction of Business Travel vision BT2.0 under a new leader in July 2018 is re-setting this business for long term sustainability and profitability, and the global aspirations are driving the business to attain better and exciting results.
An excellent opportunity was given to me in August 2018 to attend an innovative programme at the London Business School – Leading Businesses into the Future. The learning through leading-edge research helped me gather the most effective insights to create a strong, resilient organisation, well-prepared for future success.
Through these years we have successfully transitioned from Multi-Country Itineraries to Life Event Holidays. I am proud to state that our company has been felicitated with several awards through the years. The 2018 Zee Business Travel Award for Best Tour Package Provider, the 2018 PATA Gold Award for ‘Marketing Media’ – Travel Advertisement Broadcast – “Holidays Bring You Closer”, the 2018 Times Travel Award for Best Business Travel Tour Operator, the 2018 Times Travel Award Best Domestic Tour Operator, the 2018 Outlook Traveller Award for ‘Best Outbound Tour Operator’ acknowledges SOTC’s ongoing contribution and commitment to be a leading brand within the Travel industry.
For these 7 decades we have innovated, adapted and evolved through it all. The future looks even more promising, with plans for growth fully underway with Project Udaan and Project Tejas. It has been an enriching experience to be actively involved not only in planning, investing in and reviewing progress, but also crafting the vision, and customer experience, personally. I am confident that the transformational shift will help us build a more sustainable, more valuable, and more loyal relationship with our customers/segment,s and will therefore strengthen our market position.
As we celebrate our 70th anniversary, I would like to sincerely thank each one of you for your continued commitment and hard work. It is the hard work and dedication from talented, competent and engaged people that has brought SOTC Travel this far. SOTC will continue to achieve many milestones and create new chapters of success and I now look forward to future growth, profitability, innovations and successes in the year ahead.