Muscat – Oman’s largest travel and hospitality company Travel Point LLC represents all travel related solutions such as international product franchises, high quality leisure and hospitality products, pilgrimages, travel management partners etc. In an interview, Travel Point CEO Sunil D’Souza speaks about the company’s exclusive services and brand strengths in the market. He also shared views on the post-pandemic recovery of Oman’s travel industry and future of travel.
The pandemic has badly affected the travel industry during past two years. As COVID-19 concerns subsided this year, do you expect global travel will take off in 2022?
Things have started getting better and evidences show that more and more travellers are flying these days for business or pleasure. The number of flights at the airports have increased substantially, both legacy and budget carriers have started operating now.
Earlier international flights were operating under the bubble agreements where each country had limited seats per week. But after the COVID-19 restrictions were removed by many countries, they started allowing international flights to operate which is clearly having a positive impact on the travel industry.
Although the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently said that it might be 2023 before we can reach 2019 levels, but if the current trends continue, I believe we could reach 85-90 per cent of 2019 levels in 2022 itself.
In your view, how long it might take for Oman’s travel and tourism industry before it reaches back to a pre-pandemic level again?
As things have started shifting to high grounds with more and more flights across the skies, the passenger numbers are steadily rising. In my opinion, to reach the 2019 levels it might take some time in 2024. However, the pent-up demand for travel is making airlines register high flight loads and these factors are also contributing towards higher air fares. Also, globally there is an increasing trend of people travelling to various destinations.
The tourism industry, which took a huge hit for the last two years, is on the strong revival mode. More and more people are travelling these days after closure of the airports and hotels across the world in 2020 and 2021. There is huge pent up demand for travel and its helping to jack-up load factors.
In Oman, we have lots of people who are travelling on business, visit to their countries, and holiday/leisure trips. All these combined would certainly grow many folds compared to the previous years, adding to higher flown figures per quarter. Omani airports are currently very busy in handling outbound and inbound passengers.
Travel Point recently launched Luxury Concierge service. What really inspired you to launch such a premium service venture at this time? What does this service provide to the clients?
It is an exclusive service for those seeking exclusivity and luxury, however we do cater to all segments and quality is maintained as the highest standard. We realised we do have high net-worth individuals who are willing to pay more for their unique experiences which include private jets, luxury resorts and curated itineraries that are handpicked and highly experiential. We have a dedicated team that handles Luxury Concierge round the clock.
As part of our diversification approach, we wanted a niche that caters to this exclusive segment. And thankfully our teams done a great job in providing world-class services to our customers. Our repeat customers are the evidence to that commitment of service excellence and the trust factor.
We have sourced our luxury products from trustworthy and reputable suppliers – resorts, hotels, private jet companies and ground handlers of high repute – which obviously culminates in great escapades and memorable experiences.
Sustainability is increasingly becoming an important component of corporate strategy. What can you tell about Travel Point’s environmental and social commitments? Do you plan to implement sustainability in the work culture?
Besides financial results we focus on environmental, social, employee and customer results as key result areas. It is important for an organisation to pursue various results as they are not just relating to the balance sheet. We need to look at how we impact our employees, society and environment where we live in and are responsible for.
Travel Point is a member of Oman Environmental Group, where we participate in environmental preservation projects. We practice sustainability at our offices by reducing the use of papers/plastic and focusing on energy conservation. We are also regularly participating in beach cleaning initiatives.
We recently signed up with KLM/AF and joined their hands towards producing sustainable air fuel project, as aviation industry wants to reduce their carbon footprint. Travel Point is also working on many carbon-offset programmes as part of the conservation initiatives.
Travel Point was again voted this year as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand in travel category. What strengths of Travel Point do you think played in favour in repeating this success consistently?
Our people made it happen as they are the driving force in providing quality and dependable benchmark services. Our customers continued trusting our brand because of great service and unparallel experiences. We continually work on our core processes and we do have teams that are carrying out Kaizen projects internally to improve specific processes, reduce wastage and improve degree of efficiency across various value-chains.
Quality for us is not a destination, it’s a journey and we continually look at ways to improvise, innovate and better things. And that focus on quality makes us most sought-after travel company in Oman.
In what ways has Travel Point been innovating out of the COVID-19 crisis? What is the future of travel in your view?
Sometimes the adversity becomes mother of new innovation, which propels individuals and organisations to work on untried and untested ideas that provide a quantum shift. We do take calculated risks in our quest to craft better experiences for our customers and challenge our teams on the ground to come up with better solutions. We work on various projects regularly to enhance our service delivery mechanism, problem solving capabilities and reduce cycle time in processing transactions. The efforts help us drive better value for all stakeholders across the supply/value chain.
We also added new business verticals, at least two major ones, in the last 13 months that would contribute to increased revenue output. We started measuring every process and looked at how it can be bettered or fine-tuned. Additionally, we conducted customer and supplier forums to find out their feedback on service, product and their experiences. This helped us redesign and revamp many products and services, attracting existing and new customers and markets.