Thomas Cook India and JP Miles – 2 cases, several lessons to be learnt
Thomas Cook’s shutdown has sent shock waves across the corporate – especially travel and tourism – world. The world’s oldest travel company declared bankruptcy a couple of days back after being a major player in the market for 178 years. The shutdown left 22,000 employees jobless and 150,000 travellers in a lurch, stranded midway on their trips. In India, amid the global crisis, share price of Thomas Cook India dropped by 12 per cent, as per media reports, after the news of the collapse broke out.
Amid the chaos globally, Thomas Cook India and its Chairman and Managing Director, Madhavan Menon lost no time in dispelling apprehensions about the India venture folding up as well. In media platform after platform, Menon made it clear that Thomas Cook India operates as a separate entity. He affirmed, “It is imperative to highlight that Thomas Cook India Group has been a completely different entity since August 2012, when it was acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings (Fairfax), a Canada-based multinational with varied interests across the globe as well as in India.”
The company was proactive amid the crisis, issuing press releases to the media, informing the bourses and taking to social media, especially Twitter, to reassure customers as well as stakeholders that Thomas Cook India is insulated from the global shutdown and that its operations were separate from the UK operations. Menon also featured on several news channels where he was seen asserting that Thomas Cook India is secure.
Thomas Cook PLC has had no ownership in Thomas Cook India for the last 7 years. As per the company’s website, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd is promoted by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Fairbridge Capital (Mauritius) Ltd and its controlled affiliates, which holds 67.61 per cent. Fairbridge is responsible for the execution of acquisition and investment opportunities in the Indian subcontinent on behalf of the Fairfax family of companies.
Meanwhile, it is believed that the collapse of Thomas Cook PLC will definitely harm a lot of inbound travel to India from countries like the UK, Germany and France. Moreover, it will take some more convincing on Thomas Cook India’s part to reassure consumers that they won’t be left in the lurch.
A similar situation was seen during the time of the severe crisis faced by Jet Airways earlier this year. Even as Jet Airways was announcing the shutting down of its operations, its frequent flyer programme Jet Privilege Miles or JP Miles was still active across several other airlines. And they lost no time in asserting the continuation of their services. The company, in a statement issued, informed that JP Miles would continue to exist and added that Jet Privilege was an independent entity and a part of the Etihad Aviation Group.
A series of print ads were released about the continuation of JP Miles, followed by other media channels that highlighted the fact that the frequent flyer programme was still on and the customers need not worry about redeeming their reward points.
In both these instances, the response from the company was quick, to the point and addressed the concerns of the consumers and stakeholders. In the case of Thomas Cook India, the top management took a proactive approach and directly addressed the media, while in the case for JP Miles, the focus was on the campaign approach to inform the customers without any personal representation from the company. In both these cases we see that the time factor has been of high importance. There was no scope for any ambiguity.
There are some key takeaways for brands and corporates in the way Thomas Cook India and JP Miles handled crisis situations: