Strategic product expansion, personalisation drive SKIL Travel’s profit surge, ET TravelWorld


For SKIL Corporate Travel, an end-to-end hospitality solutions provider for accommodation, events, MICE,and ground transportation, the Covid pandemic set the pace for the growth of the company. As the space evolved and the competition diversified amidst a big shift towards online solutions, the company figured its way around it towards growth, and successfully at that.

“We grew 300 per cent post-Covid and 100 per cent the year after,” said Shylender Jindal, Managing Director at SKIL Travel. “In 2020, the year of Covid, as an organisation, we did about INR 10 crore of top line, because we were shut for the first six months,” he said.

Hotel rates expected to rise globally in 2024, Mumbai leads the chart among key cities

Most cities are expected to witness rate increases in line with local inflation. This follows substantial price hikes in 2022 and 2023, primarily driven by the surge in “revenge tourism.” In 2024, Mumbai is expected to have the highest growth rate in hotel rates among major Indian cities, with an increase of 15 per cent.

“The year after, when we were hit with the second and the third wave, we achieved a revenue of INR 35 crore. So, we grew from a Covid year of INR 10 crore to INR 35 crore in the second year. And from that to last year, which was a very successful year, we achieved a revenue of INR 25 crore,” he shared. Their top line was INR 55 crore in 2019 and INR 45 crore and INR 25 crore in 2018 and 2017 respectively, he added. Jindal attributes this growth to their well thought out expansion plans and the move to diversify their products. According to him, the additional product line played a big role in the growth of the company, as did the customer confidence in working with stronger vendors and partners.

Earlier this year, SKIL Travel opened its International MICE division offering simplified end-to-end bespoke event services to clients worldwide. Next, as part of a phased expansion plan, SKIL Travel is also set to offer corporate air ticketing and visa services, to streamline global corporate travel. Their second branch in Mumbai commenced operations on June 1.

Where a lot of companies buckled under the pressure of growing shift to online agencies, for SKIL that has not been the case. According to Jindal, they learnt to deal with the pressure in 2016 itself, when their car rental, which was spread across 60 cities in India, was growing. That was the time Ola and Uber entered the corporate world.

“They created a disruption by offering 30 per cent to 40 per cent less pricing. The clients started moving out because of the price point challenge and we struggled to convince them that we are the right partners because of certain SOPs and sustainability that we have built over time,” he shared.

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In an exclusive interview with ETTravelWorld, Anoop Bali, Whole Time Director, Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI), talks about the growth of financing the tourism and hospitality industry. However, he warned about rising construction costs and increasing project capitalisation needs. He said long-term financing will be crucial as hotel development timelines are currently 3-4 years.

The pandemic, however, came as a ‘blessing in disguise’ for the business when every client who had made a point that pricing is a challenge, was now ready to pay a 30 per cent premium for high-quality cars. “The business grew phenomenally because none of those players was able to match the service quality and the network that we could offer, and that has continued after the world re-opening. The clients have now understood the importance of quality over pricing in that particular space,” he said.

So the network, the service quality and the compliances which the company had in place in terms of ensuring that the Covid protocols are being followed – sanitisers in cars, windshields in cars, just to do a partition between the driver and the guest – all played a very important role in the minds of the customers. “As of today, 40 per cent of our turnover comes from this particular segment, which is SKIL cabs,” he said.

“In the other booking segments, like the hotel bookings, we are able to offer our clients far more competitive rates than what they’re able to achieve online,” said Jindal. “Online portals take anywhere between 20 per cent to 40 per cent commission from the hotels. We do not believe in taking such high margins. We work on competitive pricing and margins and pass on the benefit to the customer,” he said.

Personalisation, safety (especially in the case of women travellers and senior citizens) is the other strong point. Skil plays big on experiences and quality service. “We have a dedicated team looking into the customer needs. It is personalisation to that extent,” he said. “We realise that every customer whether it is a corporate or an individual, is equally important. And that has helped us ace the game,” he concluded.

  • Published On Oct 14, 2023 at 05:40 PM IST

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