How This Travel Company Stayed Alive After Covid Banned International Flights

Ease of doing business for MSMEs: The company was the Exclusive Sales Agent (GSA) for 11 international airlines in India, as well as four cruise lines and three car rental companies. It has also worked with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for its luxury trains in the country. As Covid-related restrictions anchored the travel and hospitality industry almost overnight in 2020, STIC also took a dive.

Ease of doing business for MSMEs: 2019 was one of the best years for Subhash Goyal’s business-to-business travel and tourism marketing company, STIC Travel. The company was the exclusive sales agent (GSA) – a sales representative for a company in a specific region or country – for 11 international airlines in India, as well as four cruise lines and three car rental companies. It has also worked with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for its luxury trains in the country. As Covid-related restrictions anchored the travel and hospitality industry almost overnight in 2020, STIC also took a dive.

Goyal dipped into company reserves, obtained an overdraft facility from his bank, negotiated with his landlords the rent for his office space across the country, asked employees for a pay cut, etc., to survive. to the situation expecting it to improve in the following months. However, with the crisis taking longer than expected to abate, followed by the second wave last year, Goyal has nothing left to fall back on except for the business sectors that are not almost never existed for him – charter services, freight services and air ambulances. .

“These verticals together weren’t even contributing 5% of my entire business before Covid. I never thought there would be a time when I would have to depend on them to survive. While 2019 was one of the best years for us, post Covid, we are still alive thanks to these companies, otherwise many companies in the sector went out of business post Covid,” Goyal told Financial Express Online.

Goyal activated his charter services under the air bubble pact that India had with several countries to ferry stranded passengers back and forth. Freight services were also put to work. “When we realized the government had created a bubble, we started providing charter services. For example, we have hired students from Toronto, Ukraine, Sao Paulo, etc. This kept cash in the bank to pay employees and rent during this desperate situation. We also did medical evacuation charters. While the demand for medical ambulances was very high, there were not many such ambulances available at that time. I also tried to keep my staff motivated by these companies,” Goyal added.

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There were around 200 employees in the company which was reduced to around 160 even as Goyal said he never fired anyone. From 5% pre-Covid, charter and freight services and medical ambulances now account for around 60% of STIC’s business, enough for Goyal to keep its business afloat. It even operated with a half percent margin and, in some cases, at cost to at least have access to working capital.

“These charter jets belong to Reliance, Adani, Lalit Hotels, Taj Group and other companies. We have done around 40 international charters and around 150 executive charters a year,” Goyal said. in mid-December 2021, the spread of Omicron further aggravated the situation for the travel and hospitality industry.As STIC continues to grapple with the situation, Goyal is confident that the business will bounce back strongly once the Covid restrictions lifted.

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