Mumbai: In October 2016, FCM Travel Solutions, the India arm of Australia-headquartered Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) had announced the acquisition of Bengaluru-based Travel Tours Group (TTG). The deal propelled FCM Travel Solutions into a Rs. 3000 crore enterprise and one of the top three players in the core travel segments. In February 2018, FCM Travel Solutions rebranded its travel retail and holiday brand ‘Flight Shop’ to ‘Travel Tours’.
A year later, Gaurav Luthra, Chief Operating Officer, FCM Travel Solutions sat down with Destination Reporter to discuss business strategy and performance.
Commenting on the thought process and rationale behind the rebranding, Luthra said, “For many years, we only had one brand (FCM Travel) and many verticals and we were growing well. But we realised that not enough attention was being given to some of the segments. So, we decided to break the business into two parts. We created Corporate Traveller which focusses on SMEs while FCM would continue to engage larger customers.”
The business has since then seen much healthier growth in both the brands. In fact, business in Corporate Traveller doubled after the separation – about 100 per cent growth in the last year and a half to touch Rs. 1800 crore.
Travel Tours was already well established when FCM took over the reins. “But they were doing everything,” said Luthra. “We merged some of its pieces into Corporate Traveller and our Flight Shop division into Travel Tours and rebranded it. Travel Tours as a service brand had much better recognition.”
Travel Tours is the B2C piece operating brick-and-mortar shops. Initially it had five shops. Today they operate about 35 shops across India and is growing very fast.
“The only number we are chasing is margins and profits as we grow,” affirmed Luthra. “We are not after number of shops.”
Travel Money is the new name for the forex business which was earlier FCM Forex. It is now an independent business. Forex is a high volume, low margin but healthy business growing rapidly, according to Luthra.
Travel Money is an AD2 license holder issued by India’s Reserve Bank allowing it to go beyond usual forex currency conversion and do remittances, even large values for corporate houses, medical and educational purposes.
“The focus is to grow forex business aggressively in India,” confirmed Luthra. “It improves our top line and provides liquidity to fuel other businesses as well. We will have more spending power to invest in new products and technology.”
FCM Incoming and FCM MICE are the other divisions. FCM MICE is more than a decade old. “But the last three years have witnessed good growth of about 30 per cent YoY,” informed Luthra.
Another division, Travel Air Representation is a large business servicing more than 200 agents. It is one of the largest resellers of holiday packages and brands like Star Cruises and Eurail in India.
Online is another game changer. In 2019 FY, 8 per cent turnover will be realised online according to Luthra.
Today, more than 150 corporate customers use their online platform. More than 20 per cent new business is being transacted online.
The India business today clocks about AUD 1 billion (Rs. 5000 crore); the biggest piece is Travel Money, followed by Corporate Traveller and then Travel Tours.