Thomas Cook (India) Limited – India’s leading omnichannel travel services company and its subsidiary, SOTC Travel, say that their new business model, designed with the current demand for gig economy in mind, is a unique Travel Business Associate (TBA) model, providing individuals irrespective of age, an opportunity to supplement their income while working from home without being bound by the need to report to offices or keep time schedules.
Rapidly adapting to the accelerated demand for flexible jobs and the rise of the gig economy, the unique hub and spoke model of the Travel Business Associate network, connects aspiring entrepreneurial individuals with the companies’ extensive retail branch network. The associate is then aided by the branch to close sales and earn attractive commissions, says a press statement.
The TBA model has seen an impressive sales growth of 10-fold since inception in 2018 and has already surpassed its pre-pandemic sales. With over 300 partners on-boarded, the two companies now aim to scale up the business to maximise on this high potential model, says the press statement.
While the pandemic adversely impacted businesses and resulted in job losses for many, Thomas Cook and SOTC’s Travel Business Associate model provided a valuable pivot, allowing individuals the flexibility of working at their own pace, from the convenience/safety of their homes.
Further, the TBA model does not require upfront payment/deposits or investment in any physical office. The income generated is variable – based on conversion of referrals into a sale for the companies.
The model has witnessed strong interest especially from homemakers, women taking sabbaticals or forced to stay at home due to domestic family transfers, self-made women entrepreneurs, new mothers who make up for 50 pc of the companies’ TBA workforce, as well as retired individuals, small business owners, insurance agents and mutual fund distributors.
The companies say that joining is very simple with details on both their websites. After application by potential TBAs, the two companies carry out a rapid screening process with documentation which leads to a confirmation. The range of products included in the TBA model cover international and domestic holidays, foreign exchange, holiday card as well as MICE and School Groups.
Post the simple online sign-up process, Thomas Cook and SOTC align each Business Associate to the companies’ closest branch and equip them with adequate training, tools and technology, to create new customer opportunities through the associate’s personal connections and references. The Travel Business Associate can choose to be actively or passively involved in a sale process, post lead generation.
“The strategic intent was to build a simple hub and spoke model aligning individual associates to our local branches and backing them with training, tools and technology to create a new customer-market opportunity. The Travel Business Associate model is based on personal connections and references with no fixed costs and consequently a non-linear cost line that lends itself perfectly to rapid scalability, especially in a post-pandemic recovery period,’’ says Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head, Marketing, Service Quality, Value Added Services & Innovation, Thomas Cook (India) and SOTC Travel. “What is noteworthy is that, in an era witnessing rapid rise of the gig economy where individuals seek flexibility, we are emphasizing on creating equal opportunities and I am delighted to state that nearly 50 pc of our Travel Business Associate workforce comprise of women – new mothers, homemakers, self-made women entrepreneurs; equally retired individuals, small business owners, mutual fund distributors,’’ he adds.
“Our Travel Business Associate model has witnessed sustained interest from associates, growing by 10-fold and has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels. We aim to optimise its potential and further grow our business in the post-pandemic era,” he says.