Thomas Cook India, the largest integrated travel and travel-related financial services company in India having the largest network in the world, recently announced its partnership with the Indian Postal Department to further broaden its horizon. In an interview, Vishal Suri, COO, Thomas Cook (India) Limited, shares the successful voyage of the company.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Please shed some light on the inception of Thomas Cook?
Vishal Suri (VS): Thomas Cook Group was formed on June 19, 2007, following the merger of Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group plc. The new company is one of the world’s leading leisure travel groups with sales of around £9 billion (€12 billion), 19 million customers, 30,000 employees, a fleet of 97 aircraft, a network of over 3,000 owned or franchised travel stores and a number of hotels and resort properties. The company launched its Indian operations in 1881 and is celebrating its 129 years of world-class service in India. Thomas Cook (India) Ltd offers a broad spectrum of services that include foreign exchange, corporate travel, leisure travel and insurance.
RK: What are the various products and services offered by Thomas Cook (India)?
VS: Thomas Cook (India) has a gamut of product and service line. It operates in the following areas of business:
RK: Why the company entered into franchising?
VS: The Thomas Cook Gold Circle (franchisee) programme is an exclusive partnership to strengthen the presence of the company in India. It helps the company to sustain leadership position by increasing customer access points and effectively dispensing high-quality services with an integrated travel solution concept.
RK: What is the USP of Thomas Cook franchise system?
VS: The USP of Thomas Cook franchise system lies in its brand name and its business model. Our franchise model allows the franchisees to bring in the investment only, rest is taken care of by the company itself. We offer complete help to our franchisees in conducting daily operations of the franchises.
Thomas Cook (India) has received several prestigious awards such as the Golden Peacock Award for Excellence in Corporate Governance and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Golden Award for Best Travel. Recently, the company won the Best Tour Operator for the second time in a row and the Best Forex Company at the CNBC Awaaz Travel Awards 2009.
RK: What kind of background is necessary to secure the franchise of the company?
VS: We are looking at people who have a good clout in a particular region and who share our vision and thoughts of operating our kind of business. Besides this, the franchisee must have an outlet at high street with an area of 400-600 sq.ft. The interiors and infrastructure of the outlet is done as per the guidelines of Thomas Cook and an investment from Rs 5 to 15 lakh is required to get started with our franchise. In short, people from any walk of life who may or may not be from travel industry can take up our franchise.
RK: How many Golden Circle partners does Thomas Cook have? What are the future target locations?
VS: Thomas Cook (India) Ltd presently operates in over 72 cities across almost 180 locations in the country with more than 40 Gold Circle partners (franchisees) across India. The company has overseas operations in Sri Lanka, which is a branch of Thomas Cook India and Mauritius, which is subsidiary of Thomas Cook (India).
RK: What are the company’s future expansion plans?
VS: We have plans to add around 30 more Gold Circle partners (franchisees) by 2010.