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Thomas Cook India & SOTC Travel win Best Outbound & Domestic Tour Operator of the Year Awards at SATTE 2023

Thomas Cook was recognised as the ‘Best Outbound Tour Operator of the Year’ for its innovative product development that inspired customers to take a much needed holiday.

MUMBAI – Thomas Cook (India) Limited – and its Group Company, SOTC Travel, have been honoured with the Best Outbound and Domestic Tour Operator of the Year Awards respectively at SATTE 2023. The SATTE Awards serve to showcase leaders in India’s travel and tourism sector who have contributed significantly towards revival and growth of tourism with reopening of borders. The selection criteria covered a range of parameters, with the nominations being judged by an eminent jury and validations by Ernst & Young.

Thomas Cook was recognised as the ‘Best Outbound Tour Operator of the Year’ for its innovative product development that inspired customers to take a much needed holiday. The Company launched Easy Visa Holidays to short haul international destinations, as also exciting/experiential elements in its long-haul portfolio. While SOTC won the award for ‘Best Domestic Tour Operator of the Year’ for catalyzing on the strong travel sentiment emerging from India’s metros, mini-metros, tier 2-3 cities. With the pandemic putting the spotlight on domestic tourism, the Company strategically developed a wide range of products including the India Extravaganza holidays that played a vital role in maximizing its domestic business potential.

Thomas Cook & SOTC’s in-depth product development was based on sustained consumer research and surveys like the Holiday Readiness Travel Reports – revealing emerging consumer behaviours and travel trends. The Companies leveraged: festive seasons, summer/winter, honeymoons, special occasions, public holidays, weekends/extended weekends to curate a wide range of holiday options for customers across every segment from Gen Z to Gen S (seniors). The extensive portfolio of products offer immersive experiences showcasing fresh new locales, engaging
experiences, outdoor & adventure (including trekking, hiking, camping, biking, safaris, river rafting and paragliding); wellness getaways; spiritual journeys, culture & heritage, gastronomy, unique accommodation (jungle lodges/tree houses or havelis, uber-luxury resorts, glamping and more), short getaways and cruises. In addition, Luxury and ‘Affordable Luxury’ have been a key focus area.

To catalyse demand, the companies launched a range of offers: Holiday Now and Pay After You Return, Buy One-Get One Companion offers, family discounts and more; also consumer roadshows to assist customers with travel and health protocols.

Thomas Cook & SOTC displayed unerring focus on Health & Safety to build consumer confidence in travel. The company launched the ASSURED Safe Travel Program in association with Apollo Clinics; TravShield – a 360° safety commitment: physical, financial and mental safety; Doctor on Call 24×7 – to connect with top quality doctors while on holiday; Covid-negative certification; India’s first Safe Holiday Helpline – free expert advice – on travel/health protocols and regulations; also a dedicated online Travel Guidelines section updated with ongoing changes in protocols. The Companies successfully demonstrated innovation, agility and digital astuteness in consistently leveraging technology – ensuring seamless delivery of contactless, scalable, secure solutions to customers. Thomas Cook & SOTC were the first to launch virtual Holiday & Forex stores; a Live Video Connect platform; and AI enabled tools to enhance the customer experience.

Thomas Cook & SOTC’s omnichannel clicks & bricks model empowered its customers with the safety of contactless processes & the choice/convenience of selecting their preferred channel- its apps, portals, call centres, retail or a combination – book online and walk into a store to consult with a holiday expert.

The companies built and leveraged strong partnerships and alliances with Tourism Boards (Maldives, Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Turkiye, Saudi, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.); attractions like Resorts World Sentosa and Mandai; cruises (like NCL, Costa Cruises) to enhance visibility and visitations to outbound destinations. The companies also partnered with Tourism New Zealand to conduct India’s first physical event since lockdown; inked a long-term agreement with KrisFlyer (the loyalty programme of Singapore Airlines); also Mastercard & HDFC Bank for offers on S. E. Asia Holidays.

The companies collaborated with a range of accommodation partners and signed strategic agreements with airline partners like Vistara, Air Arabia, Air Asia and GoAir to offer air inclusive holidays; and was appointed as Preferred Sales Agents (PSA) for the Indian market by Emirates Holidays, the tour operating arm of Emirates Airlines. Thomas Cook & SOTC Travel have emerged as the top sellers of India cruises (Cordelia), with over 7500 customers booked since travel restart; also river cruises like Antara Cruises.

Mr. Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said, “We are truly honoured to be selected as the Outbound Tour Operator of the Year by SATTE 2023. This award reiterates our leadership position in the outbound sector and recognises our sustained efforts towards revival and growth post the challenges of the pandemic.

With the reopening of borders and restart of commercial aviation, our multipronged strategy across product development, health and safety initiatives, technology and Marcomm has served us well in inspiring customers to go on their much awaited holiday. Our re-imagined strategy throughout pandemic was customer centric with high focus on health and safety. This award is a special honour and we are grateful to our customers for investing their trust in us and inspire us in our continuous service. We dedicate this award to our customers!”

Mr. Daniel D’souza President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel said, “We are honoured to accept the Domestic Tour Operator of the Year Award at SATTE and we dedicate this win to our domestic holidays team for their sustained efforts. The restrictions across international destinations and absence of commercial aviation gave rise to significant demand for domestic holidays and our strategic product development inspired customers to explore our beautiful country in-depth. We rapidly scaled up our domestic business as an Indian homegrown brand with a customer centric approach. Our wide range of products and offers ensured best deals for our customers, and we continue to create more such exciting offers/value propositions.

We were quick to seize the opportunity and leverage technology to deliver seamless, contactless and secure solutions toour customers while also reassuring them of their safety during their travel. I would like to thank SATTE for recognizing our team’s sincere efforts to create exceptional holiday experiences for our customers with this prestigious award.”

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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