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Monday, 16 May, 2016, 11 : 00 AM [IST]

SOTC: Revamping & Realigning

SOTC stepped into 2016 with renewed vigour, showcasing new brand architecture for its tour operating business in India. Disha Shah Ghosh offers an insight into the new logo design and the company’s focus on making the customer a key factor into the decision-making process.
With a change in ownership, and Kuoni Group exiting the tour operating business globally, Kuoni India has been re-branded as ‘SOTC Travel Services Pvt. Ltd.’. The change in logo design was inevitable after witnessing a record year of business in 2015. This year, SOTC aims to push the envelope and consolidate its business under three diverse verticals. Therefore, the new logo is aimed at creating a distinct identity. It features SOTC with rounded edges and the icon on the top right of the logo signifies direction, a cursor and a paper plane. With a strong legacy of 66 years behind it, the SOTC logo embodies the spirit of guiding travellers, while offering them an enriching travel experience.

Amod ThatteCommenting on this development, Amod Thatte, Head Products & Innovation, Outbound Division, SOTC, said, “The brand design retains the four squares, but with rounded edges. The arrow mark talks about forward looking ideas. All the businesses that we operate have now come under the SOTC gamut.” With SOTC as the mother brand, the leisure portfolio is SOTC for Holidays, while SOTC for Incentive Travel caters to the MICE segment, whereas the brand for Business Travel unit is SOTC for Business Travel.

Agreeing with Thatte, Daniel D’souza, Head of Sales, India & NRI Markets, SOTC Travel Services Pvt. Ltd., said, “With a change in brand architecture, nothing has changed. Customers are more familiar with the SOTC brand, and therefore the transition is smooth. It is a phase-wise re-branding.”

SOTC for Holidays caters to the domestic and international travel segment. Under the SOTC for Holidays umbrella, there are three verticals—Group Tours, Customised Holidays and Perfect Moments. “Group tours are fixed departures which includes coach tours and services of a tour manager. We also offer customised group holidays. They are tailor-made holidays to suit the choice of sightseeing and experiences travelers wish to explore. ‘Perfect Moments’, which is a luxury travel brand, caters to the needs of ultra-high net-worth individuals. In the domestic segment (Holidays of India), we cater to the group tours and customised holidays. We treat customised group tours as an ad-hoc business, which is a growing business,” Thatte said.

The company is a strong player in the GIT business and will continue to consolidate the business with the ever-increasing growing middle class. Thatte said, “There is still a huge segment in India that prefers group travel so that everything is taken care of. Group travel will continue to remain a mainstay business for SOTC, although its growth rate is lesser than FIT business. We will invest into the FIT business because that is more in line with the market. The domestic segment is a fragmented market and we are trying to create a strong base there. 2015 was a record year for SOTC in its history in the outbound segment. The challenge this year will be to sustain this growth.”

As far its product offerings are concerned, SOTC has added Fiji, Australia and New Zealand to its group tour portfolio. “Since our focus is on the customer, this year we have ventured into direct procurement to ensure quality,” stated Thatte. Additionally, in Australia, SOTC has introduced an early check-in facility for Indian customers.

Daniel D’souzaProduct Campaign
SOTC is running a campaign ‘Customer Obsessed’ which is the theme for 2016, and all decisions and initiatives are being undertaken with the customer in mind. “We launch our products in September and October. As part of the  Customer Co-Created concept, we conducted workshops in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Vadodra, Rajkot, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata last year, and made our past customers a part of the process. We discussed products and the requirements, gained customer feedback and incorporated suggestions,” D’souza said.

Earlier this year, SOTC launched the ‘Holiday Essentials Kit’ offering 21 items that a customer needs for a comfortable holiday. Besides, the company has institutionalised the habit of regional managers meeting and interacting with customers every month to gain creative feedback.  

S. D. NandkumarS. D. Nandakumar, Business Head – B2B & Ecommerce, SOTC Travel Services Pvt. Ltd., said, “In 2001, SOTC was the first company to start a MICE Division, since then we enjoyed a  leadership status in the market. Despite the new brand identify, we have a great relationship with our customers and most of our customers are repeat clients. We are witnessing double-digit growth from the MICE vertical this year.” In the domestic market, SOTC receives good business for destinations like Jaipur and Goa, while demand for USA has doubled this year compared to 2015.

Currently, SOTC operates 96 franchise stores and 25 branch offices across 70 cities in India, and plans are afoot to expand its geographical reach later this year.
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