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Thinking Out-of-the-Box to Ride Out the Pandemic

Geetha Praveen

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going – as the adage goes. Living up to this maxim is Geetha Praveen, a wanderlust trapped in corporate culture, who broke out into the travel and tourism industry.

Just within a few months of launching her company, IHC Tourism, Geetha was successful and she had bookings for 2020 and a few months of 2021 as well.

But, the COVID pandemic brought her fast-growing tourism and travel company to a grinding halt. The lockdown that began in March third week got extended repeatedly, Geetha told Tricity Scoop, making it difficult to fathom what would happen in the short and distant future.

“A full stop to our travel and tourism-related activities meant zero earnings and total write off on all businesses we had closed on,” she said in a conversation with Tricity Scoop. Moreover, as Coronavirus cases continue to rise the future looks bleak as hospitality and tourism sectors are the worst hit. “We had to let go of half of our staff,” Geetha lamented.

“The pandemic hit our business activities, and there were moments of severe despair as to what the future had in store for me and my company, IHC Tourism that I launched two years ago,” she said.

Tough times call for tough nerves and need for thinking out of the box. “Fortunately, I managed to coax my core team of six persons, each specialising one skill – marketing, lead generation, communications, negotiations – and decided to carry on, come what may,” Geetha said recalling the tough times she and the company were facing.

“In the month of August, we had a detailed meeting to explore what new, different and diverse revenue-earning avenues we could explore, given the core competencies of our team,” Geetha said.

“Although as a Director in IHC Tourism and their boss, I knew individual strengths and weaknesses of all the core team members. But the no-holds-barred meeting with ideas flowing from all directions, the meeting was fruitful, and we all swore to overcome the situation,” she said.

Geetha said she did not think even for a minute to agree to expand the scope of work of the company that was primarily working in the travel and tourism industry and include all kinds of service offerings under the umbrella group – IHC Group.

“All formalities and paperwork are in process, with the chartered accountant advising us on the mandatory filings to be done with the authorities, so that our scope of work gets expanded,” she said.

Think deep, think differently, and keep looking for answers, is the mantra she followed. “We gathered all our resources, in terms of our database of schools and offices with whom we worked before and launched our new range of services – lead generation, sales and marketing, digital marketing, and Educational ERP systems,” she said.

It is an entirely different ball game for the entire team. Digital marketing was and is an entirely new animal, but we all are learning. We are focusing on the pharmaceuticals sector and food processing and delivery.

“I am happy to report that one big company has outsourced all its digital marketing to us, and luckily the product is in the education sector – an e-learning product – which makes it easier for us to sell and market, given our deep and wide network with the education sector in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh,” said Geetha, a young women entrepreneur honoured by the Telangana government recently.

Now the new assignment would entail a judicious blend of traditional marketing and digital marketing. The company is launching its e-learning product in two weeks, and we would be officially and formally associated with the company as its main marketing arm,” Geetha said, heaving a sigh of relief that “salaries of all us seven persons are assured for the time being.”

After travel and tourism open, we would naturally take it up from where we left off. In fact, we had full bookings for 2020 and 2021 as well for a variety of offerings.

Geetha, an avid traveller, was fully into designing the tourism and holiday packages herself. Some of her products were Holiday Packages, Corporate Tours, Educational Tours & Industrial Visits, Adventure Tours, Pilgrimage Yatra, Group Tours, Seasonal Tours and Honeymoon Packages.

Mr. Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi is Consulting Editor, Tricity Scoop, and a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political issues across the country. He was associated with the Press Trust of India, The Hindu, Sunday Observer, and Hindustan Times.

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