Rebranding the business from ‘Hemas Travels’ to ‘Acorn Travels’

Q: Could you provide a brief overview of the company?

A: Incorporated in 1973, Hemas Travels was one of the first agents to be accredited by IATA in Sri Lanka.

Being a pioneer in outbound travel, we were originally an agent for corporate ticketing; however, our focus expanded to include outbound leisure travel in the Asian and European regions, and travel for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

Over the years, we partnered with multiple international Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and will unveil the newest TMC partnership for the new brand ‘Acorn Travels – Corporate Travel Management (CTM).’ CTM is a global leader in business travel management services, and its core capability is to drive savings, efficiency and safety, to businesses and travellers around the world.

Locally, we represent cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Celebrity Cruises and the Globus Family of Brands, including Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways. These partnerships have enabled us to gain a strong foothold in the leisure sector.

Q: What is the story behind rebranding to Acorn Travels?

A: The core businesses of Hemas Group are fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and healthcare. As travel and aviation were non-core businesses, we collaborated with Hemas to carry out a management buyout, which enables us to operate the travel and aviation businesses with a better focus and drive.

At present, travel and aviation have three business verticals – viz. outbound travel through the rebranded Acorn Travels, and inbound travel through Diethelm Travel Sri Lanka and the Maldives (a joint venture with Diethelm Travel Group), as well as aviation services where we represent airlines in Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives.

In this context, we’re proud to announce our rebranding to Acorn Travels as we drive transformation through a renewed philosophy and value based culture.

We liken Hemas Group to an oak tree, which symbolises strength, longevity, prosperity and goodness. And just as an acorn seed is a small component of an oak tree, so is the establishment of ‘Acorn’ as it distinguishes itself from ‘Hemas,’ and embarks on its own journey of growth and innovation that is driven by travel and aviation expertise, business expansion and diversification.

Q: How would you describe the new culture and values at Acorn Travels?

A: To stay relevant, the challenge we have embraced is to evolve with customers, and changes in travel and aviation.

‘Evolving with our customers’ is a value that we want to inculcate through the organisation. Our other values include creating a culture of continuous learning by developing Acorn as an organisation that ‘keeps learning’ to stay in touch with changing customer needs while empowering our team to ‘think boldly’ and ‘lead change.’

‘Thriving on creativity’ lies at the heart of creating value for stakeholders and helps us to deliver ‘personalised experiences’ to stakeholders, particularly customers and employees. Acorn Travels is committed to creating ‘Inspiring Journeys’ for everyone who travels with us.

Q: And how will Acorn Travels ensure stakeholder satisfaction?

A: Satisfying stakeholders from employees first, followed by customers and shareholders, is of utmost importance to us.

Empowering employees to make effective decisions, having systems and processes to ensure that staff members are equipped with the required skills and tools, recognising their efforts through attractive rewards and recognition programmes, and offering flexible work policies are some of the benefits in place to garner employee satisfaction.

The brand tag line ‘Inspiring Journeys’ is not only for every person who travels with us but for employees and everyone who interacts with us. We believe in providing complete peace of mind for customers and memorable travel experiences.

We feel that shareholder returns naturally ensue by following this process of fulfilling employee and customer needs, and sustainable business growth. 

Q: Technology and innovation are essential to competitiveness – how do you embrace these?

A: Technology plays a major role at Acorn Travels as it enables employees to provide a superior service and utilise their time for value adding activities.

We’re currently working on a new ERP system to enhance operational productivity and the employee experience, and have invested in social media to increase our customer reach. Acorn Travels is presently developing an innovative online platform that will deliver better value to customers.

Q: And what is your plan for the immediate future?

A: We are working to expand our branch network, improve brand visibility and offer 24/7 operations for customer convenience.

The medium to long-term plan is to expand our footprint in the Asian region through the commitment, trust and dependability of a large and diverse team of employees who are our most valuable resource, and leveraging on business partnerships that we enjoy across the Asian region.

– Compiled by Lashani Ramanayake