india tourism summit first-ever outreach to larger stakeholders volume 2. issue 11. march 2017. `50 total pages 36 no.u(ndgpo)-01/2016-2017 date of publication: 14/03/2017 rni no. deleng/2015/62794 posting dt. 12-17/03/2017 postal reg. no. dl(nd)-11/6180/2015-16-17 b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r s t a k e h o l d e r s o f t h e b i g g e r p i c t u r e engage with the drivers of change 30 leaders. 5 keynotes. 5 sessions first-time convergence for an inclusive tourism register now. limited availability log on to www.bitb.org 24 march 2017. hotel taj mahal, new delhi
2 d e t i a w a n o i t a m r i n o c hear them speak, contribute and share ideas this is your industry, your future 30 leaders. 5 keynotes. 5 sessions d e t i a w a n o i t a m r i n o c mahesh sharma nitin gadkari sk misra vk duggal amitabh kant sanjay kothari minister of state (ic) union minister, road transport, chairman, indian trust tourism & culture highways & shipping rural heritage development former governor & home secretary ceo niti ayog chairman - public enterprises selection board ashok lavasa finance secretary govt. of india ramesh abhishek ajeet m sharan ashwani lohani atul chaturvedi suman billa secretary dipp ministry of commerce secretary ayush indian medicine cmd, air india addl. secretary dipp, commerce joint secretary min. of tourism deep kalra mentor, makemytrip ps nair ceo, gmr airports gb srithar kapil kaul subhash goyal chetan kapoor rd india ceo singapore tourism capa south asia chairman, stic travel group phocuswright kb kachru kapil chopra neeraj govil dilip puri manav thadani steve borgia chairman emaritus, carlson india president, oberoi hotels area vp south asia marriott international advisor marriott india chairman, hvs asiapac founder, ecotourism society of india register now. limited availability log on to www.bitb.org 24 march 2017. hotel taj mahal, new delhi
capa report: long-term uncertainty in us aviation industry (pg.14) volume 2. issue 11. march 2017. `50 total pages 36 no.u(ndgpo)-01/2016-2017 date of publication: 14/03/2017 rni no. deleng/2015/62794 posting dt. 12-17/03/2017 postal reg. no. dl(nd)-11/6180/2015-16-17 b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r s t a k e h o l d e r s o f t h e b i g g e r p i c t u r e industry awaits new secretary to drive momentum for new-age verticals the retirement of the secretary tourism has the industry waiting with baited breath for the appointment of the new secretary, at the time of going into print, as there are huge expectations within the industry from the new incumbent. vinod zutshi, appointed as secretary tourism in 2015, retired from government last month. due to the high voltage campaigning that had been taking place throughout the country, particularly up, it is presumed that given the signiﬁcance of the post, the appointment could not be rushed, although there is a fair amount of speculation as to the new appointment. temporary charge of the portfolio has been handed over to narendra kumar sinha, secretary, ministry of culture. the appointment is awaited by the entire tourism industry with a lot of hope resting on the incumbent. the trend in recent years has shown, over and over again, that the personality and drive of the incumbent has become instrumental in taking innovative steps in the tourism sector especially elements like planning, marketing, execution etc. it is a very critical choice, as today indian tourism is poised at an unprecedented cross-road. although, milestones have been achieved in the past, we are now sitting on the cusp of another possible milestone. after an elongated period, there is political stability in the country which has helped in stabilising our ability to do better in tourism. there is an awareness of tourism across the country, both in the industry as well as the government. the sector has seen a fair amount of investments being made by the private sector as well as a government push in infrastructure which has been unprecedented. there is a huge thrust in the building of infrastructure for roadways, airports as well as regional connectivity. all these factors herald a moment in time for the tourism sector in india, incorporating all the aspects of the sector, be it leisure, medical or the mice segment. seamless travel, hospitality, services, products and amenities are all available to whomsoever is travelling to india. these are new-age drivers as in the recent past, whenever there has been talk of indian tourism, it had been mostly about sightseeing and monuments. a dynamic and pro-active secretary, backed with an equally competent team, is needed at the helm so that tourism may supplement the infrastructure push as well as the new age economic and industrial momentum. phocuswright conference puts spotlight on asia as the centre of mobile innovation inside a key takeaway of the conference was the rise of the asia paciﬁc as the breeding ground for innovation, most notably the mobile platform – which has created new opportunities for players and, in the same breath, unique set of challenges too. a major repercussion of this tectonic shift in technologic platform has been that companies are forced to take to the mobile platform as their primary channel for service delivery and connecting with the clientele. use of big data and artiﬁcial intelligence in not only streamlining operations, but to also better decode fast-altering consumer behaviour also came under scanner. many panellists believed that it was the ‘next big thing’ which would determine the course of the marketplace in the years to come. the conference was a success in bringing together veterans and young entrepreneurs under one roof to moot the way forward for the industry. lufthansa remains committed to the indian market unveils a350-900 on indian route exclusive interview with dieter vranckx, vice president - asia paciﬁc, lufthansa group airlines (read more on pg. 10) states 8 investors summit showcased jharkhand’s tourism potential, says director tourism 18 hotels + resorts we anticipate our mobile trafﬁc to surpass desktop users very soon: chinmai sharma 21 hotels + resorts lack of institutional players taking a toll on the hospitality landscape, says j b singh 22 technology google will continue to be a machine learning-ﬁrst company, says rob terres 32 outbound new york remains a top draw but concerns loom over government’s diktat: fred dixon 33 outbound investment in tourism has given bahrain a distinct identity in the gulf region is there fresh thinking on the future of air-india? this has now been a subject of speculation which has been around for a number of years and tends to come and go, ever since the national carrier notched up a debt of `30,000 crores ; as the upa government took a decision not to sell the airline and to work out a special bail-out package. in the last 2 years, riding on the comfort of low cost fuel combined with a dynamic and consistent strategy to consolidate and create a formidable national carrier by the present team at the helm, air india has steadied to a huge extent. in recent months, a number of options have emerged, in several sections of the me- dia. one suggestion has been to put aside the cumulative ‘legacy’ debt for the government to handle, leaving the airline to separately run its day to day operations. another suggestion has been to convert the debt in to equity so that it ceases to be debt and becomes capital. but the aspect of further burdening the already over-burdened banks has not found favour in many quarters. yet another idea is that the debt may be separated and a private operator may be found to drive the public-sector carrier w ith the government keeping majority stake . whatever be the course of action, the present management has indeed proved that much can be done , given the right leader- ship . the management has shown initiative and resolved to do something more. having said that, it is important that the ‘legacy’ debt, which the current management is not responsible for, should be done away with and should cease to be a burden on the day to day operations of the airline. other decisions can be taken as they come. the second edition of phocuswright conference was an opportunity for the online travel and technology industry, domestic and international, to brainstorm latest unfoldings in the marketspace, especially in the asia paciﬁc. it was an impressive congregation of market leaders; the event was well attended, and provided a unique opportunity for networking – which continued late in the evenings over cocktails. tourismfirst covers phocuswright india conference 2017 tourismfirst was the ofﬁcial onsite daily partner for the second edition of phocuswright conference held recently. with the industry leaders, domestic and international, in attendance, the conference saw some insightful sessions on the unfoldings in the travel technology marketplace. the occasion witnessed prominent leaders deliberate issues ranging from ﬂood of innovations, new-age entrepreneurs and their impact in altering the existing paradigm, beside taking stock of travel landscape, business, trends, turmoil in the marketplace, among others. we bring you detailed coverage of the proceedings in this issue.
this issue : march, 2017 5 political alignment between the centre and the state could alter uttar pradesh’s tourism landscape tourism, despite not yet acquiring the national signiﬁcance it ought to have, continues to get its eminence in several states. rajasthan, goa, kerala, each one of them has tourism ﬁrmly positioned as the principal driver of its economy. goa, in recent years, has been the number one destination for domestic tourism, and has given the best rois, in the country, to hospitality industry players on their investments. goa is one of the cases where supply and demand are both growing steadily. kerala has emerged as the most captivating state for the international inbound. jammu & kashmir, battling bravely in midst of political and social unrest, has continued to be in the news for the right reasons, as far as tourism is concerned. taking stock of tourism products of uttar pradesh, its heritage, religious and cultural quotients are arguably among the strongest in the country. from the iconic majesty of the taj mahal, to the meandering ghats of varanasi, to sarnath and kushi nagar, the ‘uttar pradesh appeal’ is unique and formidable. when one introspects whether the promise of these strong pegs have been realised, the answer is an emphatic no. may be, what was missing was a cohesion between the central and the state government. having been politically tilted towards regional players in the past two decades, the state’s alignment with the cente was intermittent and inadequate. the result of the recently held assembly election in the state has removed that bottleneck. with the bjp government in the centre and, now, in the state, with such overwhelming mandate, it is certain that many of the centrally sponsored schemes for rejuvenation of ghats and beautiﬁcation of cities under prasad and hriday will acquire new momentum. agra, too, needs a massive overhaul in infrastructure to retain its pole-position as a tourism product, along with a world-class airport with decent connectivity. the ganga rejuvenation plan under the ‘namami gange’ project could also get some tailwinds. headed by uma bharti, a former tourism minister at the centre, the project will have a massive impact on the fortunes of people in the state, and tourism. all these developments do indicate that there could be some major initiatives on the tourism front in uttar pradesh. contents cross currents: tourism perspective 6. traditional products need online out- reach, advocates suman billa, js, mot states 8. investors summit showcased jharkhand’s tourism potential, says director tourism aviation 10. deploying a350-900 demonstrates lufthansa’s commitment towards india: vp apac 12. indian airports ranked amongst the best in the world in terms of services, yet again 14. us airlines get boost from ‘trump bump’ but rhetoric creates long term uncertainty hotels + resorts 16. hotels can differentiate from otas in loyalty experience and personalisation: raj rana 17. marriott mobile app is driving guest experience to the next level: neeraj govil 18. we anticipate our mobile trafic to surpass desktop users very soon: chinmai sharma 19. tech disruptions changing guest behaviour, creating complicated challenges: arif patel 21. lack of institutional players taking a toll on the hospitality landscape, says j b singh technology in phocuswright 22. google will continue to be a machine learning-irst company, says rob terres 23. startups are a fundamental part of the economic fabric of india, says ceo, yatra.com 24. big data and artiicial intelligence will change the industry landscape forever 25. consolidation in the indian market is a growing sign of maturity: md, booking.com 26. lack of quality content will take time to be addressed in india, says ceo, trivago 27. disproportionate number of players in the market unhealthy, forces consolidation 28. smartphones a new reality; industry must evolve to changing consumer behaviour 29. innovation in mobile capabilities that work on all devices being led by asia outbound 32. new york remains a top draw but concerns loom over government’s diktat: fred dixon 33. investment in tourism has given bahrain a distinct identity in the gulf region 20. mergers will make it dificult for copycat models to emerge and succeed: coo, oyo 34. everything in our toolbox is being deployed in india: brand usa president devendra fadnavis cm, maharashtra on ﬁrst ﬂoating hotel launched in mumbai this ﬂoatel will offer a unique experience to visitors. the government has been encouraging and supporting innovative concepts to bolster tourism potential of this city and the state. different concepts like a ﬂoatel will deﬁnitely bring more tourists to the city and also offer distinct hospitality experience. ,, aditya ghosh, indigo president and wholetime director on launching madurai - delhi ﬂight the new ﬂights and frequencies – on national and international sectors – is a testament to the growing customer base and we are hopeful that these ﬂights will prove to be popular and convenient for our business and leisure passengers alike. ,, ashok panda tourism minister, odisha on widening the religious tourism horizon the much-awaited connectivity to kuala lumpur will bring odisha in the of buddhist tourism map. we will concentrate on bringing more buddhist tourists from south asian and south east asian countries to odisha. ,, gautam deb state tourism minister, west bengal on plans to develop tourism circuits the state government has plans to develop a tourism circuit covering places in bankura districts like bishnupur, which is famous for terracotta temples belonging to 17th and 18th centuries and mukutmanipur, where the second biggest earth dam of the country is located. ,, ozer guler gm, north and east india, turkish airlines on turkey tourism industry’s focus on india more than ever now the tourism industry in turkey is focusing on india more than ever now. in terms of new routes, we do have plans of growing, though i cannot share those right now. but india has great potential, and the government’s ‘make in india’ policy gives us a lot of encouragement. ,, editor: navin berry email@example.com senior writer: shashank shekhar firstname.lastname@example.org features editor: priyaanka berry email@example.com business development: saurabh shukla firstname.lastname@example.org tourismfirst is owned, published and printed by navin berry and printed at anupam art printers. 6/14, industrial area, kirti nagar, new delhi - 110 015. it is published from 36-37, 3rd floor, indra palace, h-block, connaught place, new delhi – 110 001. tel: 011-43784444. total pages 36
6 cross cu r r e nts: tou r i s m pe rs pec tiv e traditional products need online outreach, advocates suman billa, js, mot online promotion of tourism assets, products and destinations, provide value to every constituent of the larger tourism industry. this symbiotic relationship needs to be leveraged by traditional players, suggests joint secretary suman billa. by shashank shekhar the phocuswright conference is just about to come up. how is the mot planning to incorporate technology to promote destination management among other things? could you give us an idea about how other countries are taking this into account while promoting their destinations? broadly, this needs to be looked at from two levels. one is what the mot itself should be doing, which is, if you look at the way the world is progressing, i think digital is the way that is increasingly connecting people. most of the decisions and drilling down for information to take decisions is happening in the digital space. it is necessary for us to change the paradigm from something that is broadly print or tv oriented to something that is digital. for mot, which has the mandate to promote india as a tourism destination, i think it is fairly clear that it needs to take the digital path. some of the things that we have done over the past year include us getting an excellent social media team which is working with us to create a base of followers who are across the world, which enables us to pitch up several things to them. there are on an average around ten posts like places of interest, cuisines etc. that are does not just convey information but is also able to personalise that information, and is able to present it in a way that is easily digestible. will the new revamped website only have personalised information or are you also looking at a possibility of allowing the consumers to book products through the site? these are two different things. the ﬁrst is for information dispensing and the second is the commercial aspect. i do not think that the mot should look to convert the site into a commercial engine because there are different players in the market and while promoting the destination works for everybody, once you start operating the site commercially, there are bound to be some losers as well as gainers. we need to keep the playing ﬁeld level. that is why i do not think that we will be heading into the commercial space. what we are looking to create is something like an indian association of tour operators, where the leads are generated and enquiries can be addressed. the second and the suman billa joint secretary, ministry of tourism it is a very straightforward way to communicate your oferings and costs to the customers. i think a signiicant part of the traditional industry also needs to scale up and move on to the digital space not only to survive but also take this business to the next level. they need to look at the market and understand what the market oferings are and then create their own niche. from a marketing perspective, the players really need to understand the power of social media and its reach, especially for small businesses. ,, traditional industry needs to scale up and move on to the digital space not only to survive but also take this business to the next level. going out every day. this is bringing in a signiﬁ- cant amount of transaction and it also allows us to reach out to people who are interested in india. i think over the next year what we are trying to do is to not only consolidate all of this, and also increase the number of followers, or the critical mass that we have generated. we have managed to reach a stage where we are fairly consolidated, but at the same time we need to be able to take it to the next level. the other thing, which is something that we are working on, is to develop a strong website because it is easy to get people interested on social media but also necessary to have a lead which goes somewhere. in the back-end, we need to have a very strong and robust website which has compre- hensive information. this leads to the social media platform becoming an effective teaser and the website becoming the major source of all the information. it needs to be like an ency- clopaedia. we are completely re-working our strategy and the platform is being completely changed. the idea is to create a website that more important part is the larger mandate that we have. we have to look into getting our industry it ready as the landscape is witness- ing a huge change. a signiﬁcant amount of services in the tourism space are now being delivered via the digital medium. products like oyo rooms and airbnb are actually commoditising not just the hotel product but also products that go beyond, like home stays. transport is also witnessing a similar shift to the digital medium. it is a very straightforward way to com- municate your offerings and costs to the customers. i think a signiﬁcant part of the traditional industry also needs to scale up and move on to the digital space not only to survive but also take this business to the next level. they need to look at the market and understand what the market offerings are and then create their own niche. from a market- ing perspective, the players really need to understand the power of social media and its reach, especially for small businesses. there is always an opportunity for them to reach out to people who are interested in their products. some of the work that we will need to do over the next couple of years is going to be on how do we get on-board this model. it is said by some people in the industry that social media outreach in international markets costs a fortune. do you think the lead will have to come from the mot itself as it has the resources and budget to push this? over several months ago, we conducted a workshop here and invited players from the industry to have a discussion on how to leverage the social media. the cost of buying promoted space in social media is deﬁnitely exorbitant. there is some amount of critical mass that is generated organi- cally but we also on the same hand need to move into a space where we can get more eyeballs. it probably is not easy for some of the small players to be able to put up that kind of money but what can be done is that as social media is a very democratic space, they may use our content to promote their products. so, even if people are looking at our content, it still helps smaller players piggy back on that content and get a higher reach. in doing so, they are actually creating greater ampliﬁcation for us as well. essen- tially, it is beneﬁcial for everyone involved. all of us need to realise that if we have to grow, we will need to take an active position on social media and also promote each other. we are very open on content and we have already told the industry that we will not be putting up any commercial content. we are ready to share good content even if it is not produced by us as our mandate is to promote all of india. everything is being driven by mobile apps these days. how do you see tourism and travel taking the mobile route? what is the future like and how is the mot tapping that space? well, i think the writing is on the wall. the ﬁrst point of reference for any data these days is happening through mobiles. in this sce- nario, one cannot afford to sit out and not be involved. there are a few things that we are doing to gain space in the mobile platform. one is this new website that we are devel- oping. we are spending a comprehensive amount on developing this site and ensuring that it is mobile friendly. also, we are trying to develop the website so that it can translate content on the ﬂy. it is never going to be a case where the mot can create all of the apps that are required to make tourism work. we need to create a framework from which we are able to pick the best apps that are out there and if they work we can help them out by endorsing these apps. kerala tourism bets big on 2017, plans new products and activities kerala tourism has high hopes for 2017 as it gears up to bring in new elements and products into its already diverse tourism bouquet. deputy director of tourism speaks to tourismfirst on the state’s plans in the months ahead. by anagat choudhary what are some of the key areas of focus for 2017? the ﬁrst thing that we are looking to do this year is to further strengthen our product. we believe that something new needs to be done to enhance the product. the same things cannot be continued indeﬁnitely. we have some new and innovative products on offer this year. tourists will be in for a new and fresh experience of kerala in 2017. to strengthen and improve the quality of the products, we need to look in to the sustainability of the product, the security and safety of the tourists and, most importantly, on cleanliness. we are planning to put up more amenities on offer for the tourists. all these concepts need to be integrated with the sustainability of the products. nature is a huge element for tourism here in kerala, so, sustainability needs to be integrated over there as well. could you please elaborate on some of these new products that you mentioned before? we already have some usps like the backwaters, the beaches and the cuisine. we want to have a new look at these elements and introduce some new activities. we are trying to package these products with a fresh perspective so that even if the tourists that are coming in, have been here before, they should not feel that the experience is repetitive. will get healthier which, in turn, is bound to have a positive impact on tourism. some expectations from 2017? we expect a lot more in 2017 because this year, according to me, will be a revival for india after the entire demonetisation exercise. i think as a country we are set to gain a lot from this step and it will deﬁnitely impact the inbound rate of the country as business aspects so, contrary to a lot of claims, you believe that the entire demonetisation exercise will have a positive impact on the tourism sector? the impact has been both positive as well as negative. for the time being it has deﬁnitely slowed down things but in the long run it will prove as an essential step to boost tourism in the country. it will make transactions more transparent which is very conducive for the growth of tourism. it helps in increasing the quality of the experience. the initial set back is a very brief and temporary set-back and we should be seeing a good increase in numbers this year or at-least that is what we are hoping for.
8 state s: j h a r kh a n d investors summit showcased jharkhand’s tourism potential, says director tourism jharkhand is endowed with nature, rich cultural heritage, religious places of worships and elements of history, making it an all-round tourism destination. the state recently concluded its irst ever global investors summit which acted as a booster shot for the tourism industry with a number of mous signed, paving way for investment in the sector. we speak to dr. waghmare prasad krishna, director jtdcl. by tf bureau how would you deine the tourism product of jharkhand? the state of jharkhand is endowed with immense bio- diversity, moderate climate, rich cultural and historical heritage, religious places of worship and ethnic aspects to make the state the ultimate destination for tourists. the state government has a ﬁrm belief that development of tourism sector would not only generate immense employment opportunities – directly or indirectly – but also would contribute in accelerated economic development. this would not only ensure showcasing of rich traditional and cultural heritage of the state but also would have cascading effect in development of other sectors. rightfully, the state government has accorded tourism the status of industry in jharkhand. it is felt that to ensure rapid development in tourism sector, there is a need to develop tourist circuits and destinations providing various amenities, both way-side and at different destination points, supporting the tourists by providing conveyance, lodging and other pre-requisites, etc. dr. waghmare prasad krishna director, jtdcl the tourism policy of the state aims at making jharkhand as one of the most preferred destination for tourists, both inside and outside of the country and to ensure accelerated development of tourism related infrastructure, increasing employment opportunities, augmenting the resources of the state as also showcasing the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the state. ,, involvement of private sector, villagers and other stake holders as partners in promotion and development of tourism industry of the state is an important and critical aspect, which would go a long way in maintenance, upkeep and sustenance of the assets and facilities created in this regard for a long time. making the people of the state, nation and the world aware national and international level. what are your expectations of the jharkhand investors summit? government of jharkhand in its endeavour to promote tourism and industrial activity in the state and establish jharkhand as one of the prime investment destination the global investors summit gave us a great opportunity for showcasing the tourism potential of jharkhand. of the rich endowments of nature, its cultural heritage, spiritual places and other traditions are essential impediments for boosting tourism industry in the state. the tourism policy of the state aims at making jharkhand as one of the most preferred destination for tourists, both inside and outside of the country and to ensure accelerated development of tourism related infrastructure, increasing employment opportunities, augmenting the resources of the state as also showcasing the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the state. what are its principal pegs? the principals pegs shall be as follows:- •investment-friendlytourismpolicy. •weareintheprocessofmakingthe tourism incentives more attractive. •thelaststonemilestoneconnectivity •provisionofbasictourisminfrastructure. •leveragingwithcentralassistancefunds for destination development and circuit development •developmentofbasictourism infrastructure facility at tourist places •adequatepublicityoftourismproductsin of eastern india has taken numerous steps towards improvement of overall investment climate. govt. of jharkhand have successfully implemented the framework of ‘ease of doing business’ and have devised business friendly policies which have been instrumental in signiﬁcantly reforming jharkhand’s business climate. the state of jharkhand towards creating awareness among existing and prospective investors / entrepreneurs and taking a step forward, to showcase and deliberate various investment opportunities and key business reforms carried out in the recent past. to attract investments, the state of jharkhand organized its maiden “momentum jharkhand” global investors’ summit in ranchi on 16-17 february 2017 with the support ofministry of external affairs and confederation of indian industry (cii) alongside the global investors summit, we also organized a trade exhibition on 16- 17 february 2017 at khelgaon, ranchi. the global investors summit gave us a great opportunity for showcasing the tourism potential of jharkhand. we have conducted lots of b2g meeting with various prospective investors. most of them are keen to initiate partnership with jharkhand tourism department for tourism promotion in the state. we have executed 8 mous / lois for development of tourism infrastructure through psp (private sector partnership) of investment of around `1223.00 cr. in tourism sector. since the gis gave us a great opportunity to showcase the tourism potential and investment opportunity in tourism sector. it was really a great success story for govt. of jharkhand. similar nature of events needs to be organized in intervals to show case the potentials of jharkhand. how do you think it will aid to your foray in taking jharkhand to the larger market place? the gis gave us a great opportunity to showcase the tourism potential and investment opportunity in tourism sector not only in national level but also in international level. we have show-cased the potential of jharkhand in national level and also in international level. we have successfully signed mou/loi for various tourism projects and expect more private sector investment in tourism sector. this would help in increase in employment generation and economy development of jharkhand state. we understand that jharkhand has been, for some time, mooting a move into the mining tourism space. you have some spectacular products to help you leverage your intent. what is the roadmap? jharkhand state has rich mineral resources and we are planning for development of mining tourism at various suitable locations at jharkhand state. we are planning for development of the same through csr activities. religious tourism has a major stake in ensuring steady footfalls, especially courtesy baidyanathdham. how big is its contribution in the overall tourist movement? we have taken various incentives in post for facilitation and promotion of baidyanathdham and shravanimela. baba baidyanathdham has been successfully incorporated under prasad scheme of govt. of india. we are in the process of preparation of dpr for availing funds from govt. of india. the ﬁnancial assistance would be in the range of rs. 40 to 50 cr. in addition to the above, we are planning for development of religious circuits for development of baidyanathdhan along with other religious place of jharkhand state. we also support various events and festivals at deoghar, which results in wide publicity. jharkhand could go big in the area of experiential and tribal tourism. how will you ensure it gains through its enviable products? jharkhand state has its rich cultural and tribal tourism potential. we are in the process of marketing and promotion through swadeshdarshan scheme of govt. of india like development of eco tourism and tribal tourism circuits. s n i ppets west bengal moots circuits to augment footfalls speaking to the legislative body, during a discussion, gautam deb, minister state tourism, west bengal announced that the state government planned developing tourism circuits covering places of historical interest, on priority basis. “the state government has plans to develop a tourism circuit covering places in bankura districts like bishnupur, which is famous for terracotta temples belonging to 17th and 18th centuries and mukutmanipur, where the second biggest earth dam of the country is located,” said the minister. also, plassey in nadia district, where the british won the decisive battle in 1757 along with the historical sites of hazar duari are being looked at for planning another such circuit, said the minister.
9 the show with a difference composite profile + programme who will attend the event? 2,000+ travel trade buyers – travel agents and tour operators 1,000 industry professionals – hoteliers, airlines, airports, infra, government 5,000+ like-minded travellers for b2c 25+ cultural manifestations – arts/cuisine 500 new age verticals buyers – weddings, online, experiential india and overseas 500+ exhibiting companies from 100+ travel industry speakers and experts at 8 power conclaves 25+ countries and 25+ indian states show verticals in b2b & b2c •leisure•luxury•experiential•incentives&meetings •weddings•spa/wellness•golf •eventsandfestivals•onlineandtraveltechnology •shopping•cruises event programme • thursday, 21st september (second half): trade only. inaugural session and open networking session morning – trade only. afternoon – trade & consumer. • friday, 22nd september: full day power conclaves. • saturday, 23rd september: full day – trade & consumer. full day power conclaves.
10 av iati o n : lu f th a n sa deploying a350-900 demonstrates lufthansa’s commitment towards india: vp apac with an eye on maintaining its coveted position in the indian skies, the largest european airlines group – lufthansa – has deployed its newest aircraft, a350-900 in the market. at a time when west asian carriers have captured a signiicant marketshare, this move makes all the right noises. in an exclusive interview with tourismfirst, dieter vranckx, vp - asia paciic, lufthansa group airlines opens up on the group’s strategy for the indian market and the european aviation market, and more. lufthansa has demonstrated on several occasions that india is an important strategic market. moreover, by lying its best and newest product – the a350-900 to india, lufthansa further reairmed its commitment to the indian market. in addition to increased capacity, the innovative new aircraft raises the benchmark on eiciency and travel comfort by delivering best in class quality while ensuring safety, reliability and excellent connectivity across its vast global network. ,, become aggressive in regional connectivity, and i should think there are advantages having an indian arm. like air asia and like sq? no, we do not have plans to enter the domestic market. though we are always exploring new options and/or destinations in the lufthan- sa network we focus on our home markets in central europe when it comes to mergers & acquisitions. at the moment we are busy integrating brussels airlines into the lufthansa group. this will expand our global network and we are happy to an- nounce that as of end of march, brussels airlines will connect mum- bai with brussels ﬁve times a week. how are your lights doing to india? how is the business growing and how do you see lh's dominance over indian routes in the coming years? under the lufthansa group umbrella, we offer our indian passengers two very strong and distinctive airline brands - lufthansa and swiss. for decades, our services and offerings on both these airlines have been very well vice president - asia pacific, lufthansa group airlines dieter vranckx by navin berry the indian aviation scene, of late, has been more dominated by west asian carriers and we are witnessing a relative silence from european ones? would you agree? is your appetite for indian market lessened, comparatively? the aviation sector in india has been growing consistently and in view of recent initiatives introduced by the indian government, we believe this trend will only continue in years to come. this steady growth in international air trafﬁc to and from india has served as a catalyst for leading airlines across the world to expand their operations within the indian market. however, at lufthansa group our commitment to creating enriching passenger experiences by offering our most innovative products and services has always been very well received by our indian customers. moreover, by increasing our offerings by providing unrivalled connectivity while working closely together with our joint venture and star alliance partners, we are conﬁdent to continue our success story here. as a matter of fact, we have currently more weekly frequencies for the lufthansa group to india as to china. this shows our commitment to india. how does the european aviation scene look like to you, with brexit round the corner, and many of the eu economies under pressure? what is your forecast for the lh group in particularly? lufthansa as the largest european airlines group can cope with whatever the consequences of brexit might be. mobility and air transportation have lufthansa as the largest european airlines group can cope with whatever the consequences of brexit might be. always been an important part of europe. as an airline group, we are used to face all kind of challenges and disruptions. we have learned to adapt to the fast changing business environment with innovative products and services, new business models and process improvements as well as signiﬁcant efﬁciency gains. oil prices have supported the airline industry in the last year or so. how has it afected the bottom line for lh and how has your group taken advantage of this price? how much has it helped streamline the aviation business in general? how does this look to you in the coming months? obviously, the lower fuel prices have given relief to airlines. however, the pressure on costs remains high. the lufthansa group is undertaking many efforts to reduce the fuel bill with several initiatives. on the other hand, we invest heavily in modern aircraft like for example the lufthansa airbus a350 recently launched on the delhi-munich route which is 25% more fuel efﬁcient and thus makes us less vulnerable. this game changing aircraft marks the entry of the lufthansa group into the 2 litre class. do you have any plans for entering the domestic space in india? years ago, lh made an entry with modi group, you will recall. india has recently received by our indian passengers. on lufthansa, our indian passengers appreciate our “quality made in germany” approach giving them good value for money. moreover, through our “more indian than you think” philosophy we have demonstrated that we are an airline with a “soul of germany and a heart of india.” while travelling on swiss, ‘the airline of switzerland’, our passengers appreciate the classic values of “swiss hospi- tality” and – thanks to the airlines manageable medium size – the personal attention and care for individual needs. going forward, we are positive of the future as we continue to invest in innovative products and services and increase our offerings by providing unrivalled connectivity. this in turn creates enriching passenger experiences when they ﬂy on the lufthansa group. lufthansa is also proud to have in- troduced world’s most modern and environmentally friendly long haul aircraft – the a350-900 between delhi and munich on february 11, 2017. india became the ﬁrst destination worldwide to welcome the new aircraft and lufthansa is the ﬁrst airline to start commercial operation with this latest plane to india. lufthansa a350-900 marks a generational change on long-haul routes with 25% less fuel consumption, 25% less carbon dioxide emissions and 50% less noise. start- ing summer schedule of 2017, mumbai will be the third destination after boston to receive the lufthansa a350-900. in addition, brussels airlines which is part of the lufthansa group, will be starting non-stop mumbai to brussels ﬂights from end of march 2017. we understand your new acquisition, namely brussels airlines, is coming into mumbai from next month. how do you see the spread from within lh emerging over indian skies in the coming years? starting march 31, 2017, brussels airlines will connect brussels airport 5 times a week to the indian metro mumbai. with this lufthansa group will offer indian passengers connectivity to many european, african and north american destinations within the brussels airlines network. moreover, with its star alliance partner - air india, brussels airlines passengers will be able to connect seamlessly on domestic ﬂights to other indian cities and regions. what does bringing a350 to india mean for the airline? on february 11, 2017, india became the ﬁrst destination worldwide to receive the lufthansa a350-900 and lufthansa the ﬁrst airline to start commercial operations with this latest plane to india. the lufthansa a350-900 is the world’s most modern and environmentally friendly long-haul passenger aircraft. the new aircraft offers a higher level of cost efﬁciency with higher passenger comfort along with 25% less fuel consumption, 25% less carbon dioxide emissions and 50% less noise. with more than half a century of pres- ence, lufthansa has demonstrated on several occasions that india is an important strategic market. moreover, by ﬂying its best and newest product the a350-900 to india, lufthansa further reafﬁrmed its com- mitment to the indian market. in addition to increased capacity, the innovative new aircraft raises the benchmark on efﬁciency and travel comfort by delivering best in class quality while ensuring safety, reli- ability and excellent connectivity across its vast global network. s n i ppets cochin international airport gets new international terminal pinarayi vijayan, chief minister, kochi, ofﬁcially opened the cochin international limited’s new integrated international passenger terminal. the chief minister also received the crew and passengers of the ﬁrst plane, a jet airways ﬂight from muscat, that landed at the terminal. as per tradition, the ﬁrst ﬂight that landed at the airport was received by ‘water salute’. the function was presided over by finance minister, t m thomas isaac. the terminal which has a built-up area of 15 lakh sq ft. boasts of 10 escalators, 21 elevators, three moving walkways, 33,000 sq ft space for duty-free shops, 3,000 surveillance cameras, 700 ﬁre detectors, 10 aero-bridges and modern baggage handling facility. it also contains a lighting system which is 100 per cent led.
11 the show with a difference do different! do more! like only at bitb, the show that is different • b2b: buy and sell in specific verticals that bring thought processes & senior leadership • power conclaves • serious networking as business opportunities • sharp focus on tourism bringing convergence across industry • b2c: meet like-minded travellers buy and sell ready-to-use packages across the counter. exhibitors come with ready-to-sell and consumers come for ready-to-buy. exclusive offers only at bitb • manifestations product first is our emphasis. bring what is uniquely yours to the show bitb is different! more meaningful • world-class event with unique and professional look and feel
12 av iati o n indian airports ranked amongst the best in the world in terms of services, yet again in a recently conducted international survey, airport service quality has ranked india’s major airports – hyderabad, mumbai and delhi – as one of the world’s best in service quality. this development bodes well for the aviation industry and is likely to further cement india’s standing in the global aviation marketplace. by anagat choudhary as per a recently conducted international survey, major indian airports surpass international ones when it comes to the services provided. the survey was conducted by airport service quality (asq) which is a part of the airport council international. the award ceremony was a much bigger event than the one held previously with more number of participants as well as award categories. some of the criterion for adjudging the winners were waiting time in security lines, thorough security checks as well as the helpfulness of the airport staff. the asq programme bases its awards after surveying passengers at the airport on the day of their travel itself. overall 34 key performance indicators are used to decide the winners and the same survey is used across all the airports. it is the only programme to do such a survey on the day of the passenger’s travel. it delivers about 6,00,000 advertorial individual surveys across 84 countries in 41 languages. the industry database thus created is accessible to the other airports so that they may compare themselves with each other. delhi’s indira gandhi international airport, which also recently won the prestigious peacock award for corporate social responsibility in the aviation transport sector for 2016, and mumbai’s chhatrapati shivaji international airport along with singapore's changi airport were jointly declared the second-best airports in the world in the highest passenger handling capacity category whereas the hyderabad international airport was adjudged ﬁrst in the 5-15 million passengers per annum category. according to the statistics, the hyderabad airport has shown a consistent improvement in its score which was 4.4 in 2009 to being 4.9 in 2016. gmr hyderabad international airport limited (ghial) ceo s.g.k. kishore commented on the development, noting that it was a great achievement but there was lots to be done. “while the recognition has deﬁnitely made all of us proud, but we have still miles to go. hyderabad airport, running in to its 9th year of operations, is designed to cater to 12mppa. it has witnessed a growth of more than 20 per cent in the last year with a passenger throughput of close to 15mppa in cy 2016,” he was quoted as having said. “we soon plan to go for expansion of the airport, where it can enhance its capacity to meet 20 mppa. as interim measures to manage the current trafﬁc growth, reorientation of various passenger check points within the terminal is being tried and undertaken,” he added. meanwhile, an ofﬁcial statement released from gmr which runs the delhi airport said, “this achievement marks a signiﬁcant improvement from last year’s rating, where the airport was no. 1 in a smaller category of 25-40 million passengers per annum and no. 6 globally. delhi airport has now joined the elite club of international airports handling over 40 mppa.” the release also claimed that the airport had seen a consistent rise in performance since the gmr led consortium took over operations in 2006. “asq ratings are a great opportunity for us to continuously reﬁne our service quality levels. we are excited to be adjudged by aci as globally no.2 in the highest category of 40 million and above passengers. our focus has always been on enhancing customer’s experience. as we witness robust growth, we look forward to strong collaboration and support of airport stakeholders as well as our passengers. we are now geared to undertake the expansion works at delhi airport. igia master plan- 2016 will further enhance the experience of our passengers and create new benchmark for the aviation community worldwide,” prabhakara rao, ceo- dial was quoted in a press release of the company. s n i ppets srilankan airlines inducts a320neo in its leet srilankan airlines has commenced the induction of the ﬁrst of its latest airbus aircraft. the a320neo will be the ﬁrst of the a320neo and a321neo family aircraft in its ﬂeet. the introduction of these new-generation aircraft will serve to align its ﬂeet to the airline’s new strategic focus on asia and the middle east. the addition of seven brand new wide-body a330-300 aircraft in 2016 greatly enhanced its long-haul ﬂeet and passengers will beneﬁt from more comfortable seats, a state-of-the-art entertainment system, excellent in-ﬂight cuisine, and ﬂight attendants famed for their warmth and caring. the airline’s dynamic strategy is witnessing the addition of two airbus a320neo and four a321neo aircraft joining its ﬂeet in a little over a year. the second a320neo aircraft is scheduled for delivery in april 2017, followed by the ﬁrst and second a321neo aircraft in the second quarter. the orders for these aircraft were placed several years ago. the revamped ﬂeet will enable the airline to dovetail more efﬁcient management of its newly overhauled business plan for a leaner and a more efﬁcient regional operation. air canada unveils new livery inspired by canada debuts modernized image and evolution of iconic canadian brand with new employee uniforms and improved cabin product air canada has recently unveiled for its customers and employees, a bold new livery inspired by canada for its entire ﬂeet, elegant new uniforms for its employees, and a taste of some of the new onboard menu offerings that its customers can look forward to. “air canada's new livery signals a pivotal inﬂection point in our 80-year history,” said benjamin smith, president, passenger airlines. “on the occasion of canada's 150th anniversary year, with our new livery, new uniforms for our employees, the award- winning international cabin standard introduced with the launch of our boeing 787 aircraft, and enhanced onboard offerings, the future air canada represents the strength of our nation and the future-looking spirit of our airline.” air canada's ﬂeet of 300 mainline and regional aircraft are being repainted in a bold black and white design that highlights its iconic red maple leaf encircled ensign, or “rondelle,” that returns to the tail of the ﬂag carrier's ﬂeet after an absence of 24 years. reﬂecting canada's vastness and contrasting seasons, with references to its wildlife and first nations heritage, the new ﬂeet livery was designed by international design ﬁrm winkreative, headed by canadian entrepreneur tyler brûlé. and vancouver-london gatwick. with the new livery providing a sleek, air canada will also receive its ﬁrst contemporary backdrop, air canada premiered elegant charcoal grey and black employee uniforms with red accents and accessories by canadian designer christopher bates. in 2017, air canada and air canada rouge will continue its global strategic expansion and will launch new international services between toronto-mumbai, toronto-berlin, toronto-reykjavik, montreal-shanghai, montreal-algiers, montreal-marseille, montreal-reykjavik, vancouver-taipei, vancouver-nagoya, vancouver-frankfurt, boeing 737 max aircraft at the end of 2017, marking the start of its narrow body ﬂeet renewal program, to be followed in 2019 with the delivery of its ﬁrst bombardier c series aircraft. to date, air canada has taken delivery of 23 new boeing 787 dreamliners with 14 more planned by 2019 – all offering the new international cabin standard. in addition, the airline completed the reconﬁguration of its entire boeing 777 ﬂeet of 25 aircraft with the state-of-the-art dreamliner cabin conﬁguration and in-ﬂight entertainment systems.
the show with a difference b2b traditional and new age a platform for traditional and online travel agents and tour operators focus on agents dealing in leisure, luxury, experiential, meetings and to meet and do business across vertical tourism products. we incentives and online travel. power conclaves bringing 100+ industry leaders what • focussed agenda • a well deined format • subjects that are trending and will drive the business forward why • listen to expert speakers • know industry trends • learn how to make your business grow who • senior industry leaders • partnering with the best in the verticals how to make it work for you • bring a notepad! or a recorder! topics for 2017 include: online & technology; regional tourism in south asia; crisis management and surviving through terror; trends in indian outbound; city tourism; airlines & airports; hospitality. companion events product launches: meeting with media or select trade or hosting a trade lunch; oicial events will be listed on the show calendar and promoted. special venues are ofered to exhibitors and partners to book slots in keeping with their needs.
14 av iati o n : ca pa r e po rt us airlines get boost from ‘trump bump’ but rhetoric creates long term uncertainty while the recently concluded, and bitterly fought us presidential election, has boosted business sentiments, but the protectionist stance taken by the trump administration has marred long-term prospects of the american civil aviation industry, reads the latest capa report. we bring you some excerpts of the insightful report on the same. by tf bureau the mystifying rise of now-us president donald trump is full of paradoxes. he embarked on his presidency with one of the lowest approval ratings in recent history, yet after his election victory markets were buoyed by a signiﬁcant “trump bump”, carried by his promises of tax cuts, less regulation and an increased focus on revamping the nation’s infrastructure. us airlines beneﬁtted from the trump bump with a rally in corporate travel at ye2016, which helped many of those companies deliver a better than expected unit revenue performance that will propel them into positive territory for 1h2017. however, the trump bump could be tempered by his continued protectionist remarks and the pace with which he delivers on his pro-business campaign promises. the uncertainty could create a certain level of volatility for us airlines as they work toward restoring business yields. but for now they believe the momentum in corporate those airlines represent 72% of us system seats for the week of 23-jan-2017. refer graph 2 delta and united enjoy a lift in ye2016 business demand from trump's bump delta’s 2.7% fall in unit revenue year-on- year in 4q2016 was better than its initial projections of a drop between 3% and 5%. the airline cited improved business demand after the nov-2016 election, and also stated that business yields, which had been weak for most of 2016, were beginning to ﬁrm up. travel are encouraging, the recovery in business yields is just beginning, and much uncertainty remains over the economic direction the us will take under president trump’s leadership. his pledges of tax cuts, the easing of regulatory burdens, and the bolstering of infrastructure spend helped create the market surge following his election, and the momentum continued until the inauguration. but markets fell slightly on the ﬁrst day of trading after he ofﬁcially took ofﬁce, and at the same time struck a strong protectionist tone in his inauguration speech. the airline stated that its most recent the new administration’s unsurprising corporate survey indicates 85% of its business customers expect to maintain or increase travel spend during 1q2017, which is nine points higher than the previous quarter, and the best outlook delta has developed during the past two years. however, delta is not expecting business yields to reach historical highs in the near to medium term. on a historical basis, business fares fell by 30% to 40% during 2016. delta executives recently concluded that and symbolic decision to withdraw from the trans paciﬁc partnership (ttp) does signal that mr trump has no plans to back down from a potential trade war, and proponents of the pact are warning that china now has opportunities to increase its trade with paciﬁc rim countries at the expense of the us. renegotiating nafta is a top priority for mr trump, and movement on the trade pact could occur in his ﬁrst 100 days in ofﬁce. the new us president believes that nafta – cov- of corporate demand that results from a more protectionist trade stance. at the same time that mr trump is pledging signiﬁcant corporate tax cuts, he has doubled down on instituting a “border tax” on us goods produced outside the country – an issue that does not have support among republicans in congress, who hold majorities in both the house and the senate. until concrete details emerge from those promises, us airlines are somewhat hamstrung in crafting long term projections for corporate demand. for now, the election bump appears to be continuing into 1h2017, but demand patterns could change if mr trump fails to deliver on his promises. even if the new president follows through on his pro business platform, the administration’s protectionist stance will no doubt create long term repercussions on the us business climate. delta and us unions embrace president trump's favourable business policies us airlines do not generally support a speciﬁc political candidate, but delta has expressed optimism about opportunities graph 1 graph 2 graph 3 demand and yields should continue into the foreseeable future. markets enjoy a “trump bump” on the promise of pro business policies the us stock market rallied after the election of president trump in nov-2016, as business welcomed an end to uncertainty surrounding the tumultuous election. trader optimism about a more corporate friendly administration catapulted the dow jones industrial average to 20,000 on 25-jan-2016. the s&p 500, an index many airlines compare themselves to, was also trading at record highs. a corresponding increase in business travel also occurred after the election. data from the us travel association showed the us business travel index for nov-2016 reached 51.9 (50 is the baseline for expansion). the index for business travel fell below 50 for much of 2016, only growing in apr, jun, sep and nov. it is likely to grow for dec-2016 once the data are calculated. refer graph 1 delta, southwest and united have all cited a bump in demand post election, and those airlines along with american all revised their 4q2016 unit revenue forecast to reﬂect the better than expected demand. combined, core business demand held up in 2016 but corporate fares suffered during the year, and “we are not expecting them to go back to the historical levels in our current plan”, the company concluded. united’s 1.6% decline in passenger unit revenue (prasm) during 4q2016 was better than initial guidance of a 3% to 4% decline, and fell in the top range of its revised guidance of a range between 1.25% to 1.75%. the airline cited a better than expected business performance in dec-2016, noting improvements in both the demand and pricing environment. united concluded that there had been an inﬂection point for business demand after the election, and combining those changes with rising fuel prices is resulting in many airlines pushing fare increases through. in mid jan-2016 united noted its unit revenues for the month had increased every day except two; however, although the company has concluded that corporate demand was strengthening, it has no plans to offer a speciﬁc longer term forecast for business demand. protectionist stance on trade deals creates uncertainty over business demand even as trends for forward looking business ering trade among canada, mexico and the us – has destroyed us manufacturing jobs. however, he has offered little substance about the changes he aims to negotiate with the us’ two largest trading partners. canada and mexico represent 41% of international frequencies to and from the us by country for the week of 23-jan-2016. refer graph 3 any change to nafta could affect business demand to mexico and canada. mexico’s airlines, in particular, are bracing for overall changes in demand given the impending changes to nafta, and also mr trump’s hard stance on immigration, including his proposed wall on the mexico- us border. the us transborder market is strategic for aeromexico, volaris and interjet; with the uncertainty surrounding us immigration and trade, and the effects that the us presidential election are creating for mexico’s economy, those airlines are likely in a wait and see mode before fully crystallising their transborder growth plans for 2017. us airlines face the challenging task of weighing potential job creation that could occur from mr trump’s proposed cuts in corporate tax rates – from approximately 35% to 15% to 20% – and less onerous regulations, against the possible diminishing created by the election of mr trump. the airline’s ceo ed bastian recently highlighted the tax beneﬁts and regulatory changes under discussion. “we have already provided some input into the transition team and it will take some time over the next few months as things become a little more clear and individuals are staffed into new roles, but we are very excited”, mr bastian remarked. delta’s ceo also declared the company was excited to “present our case relative to the middle east situation with all the growth that those carriers have brought to the country on a subsidised basis”. emirates seems undeterred by possible sympathy from the trump administration in the debate between the us big 3 (american, delta and united) and emirates, etihad and qatar. emirates is launching ﬁfth freedom dubai-athens-newark services in mar-2017. hawaiian airlines executives concluded al- though the new administration is still in its early days, infra investment and a desire to reform the us air trafﬁc control system are positive policy directions for the new leadership. “to the extent that the administration takes on the sort of far reaching, broad level consumer regu- lations that actually limit the ability of airlines to compete and meet the needs of individual customers, i think that too, would be a positive”, concluded company ceo mark dunkerley.
15 the show with a difference b2c like-minded travellers how & from where • golf clubs and goling communities • premium credit card holders • expat community through country speciic associations • loyalty programs of leading hotels why • consumers are now mature and take independent decisions. • connect with your end consumer and increase brand visibility • increase roi and understand your consumer better how to make it work for you • come prepared with ready to buy packages • special across the counter packages and ofers • making consumers aware of your new oferings • coming face to face with your end consumer • creating a larger travel consiousness product first & manifestations highlight what is uniquely yours! put the emphasis on the product first particularly experiences such as wellness, wildlife, heritage, goling, shopping • highlight the tourism proile, what is composite • exhibit in sync with buyers proile. conversely, bitb will bring buyers in sync with your exhibitor proile • enhance your visibility and product exposure with side-bar activities such as cultural performances in art, music and dance. • explore culinary delights • replicate architectural and heritage sites you have the option to display at your own pavilion or take part separately at the art gallery, cultural perfoming stage, food street or culture gully
16 h ote l s + r e so rts hotels can diferentiate from otas in loyalty experience and personalisation: raj rana despite the rate parity, hotels have an opportunity to engage with the clientele in person, allowing them to expand relationships, and this is an advantage that hotels must leverage to compete with otas, explains raj rana. he shares that with a growing trend of online bookings, customers are beginning to spend higher amounts on f&b, increasing the overall wallet share per customer, resulting in higher total revenue per room. excerpts of an exclusive interview with ceo-south asia, carlson rezidor. given the technological advancements in smartphones, it is highly likely that in the near future, everything one does on one’s laptop today will be achievable on a hand-held device or a smartphone. hotels too are leveraging this transition by adapting to this changed reality, as rapidly as any other industry. at carlson rezidor, we have covered all aspects, ranging from hotel bookings, loyal programs, guest experience to viewing hotel room in vr (virtual reality). ,, compliance. rare though, but should there be a borg issue, our hotels not only honor the lower rate but give further beneﬁts to the guest. yes, we are aware that indian online agencies are using ‘coupon codes’ to subsidize rates, competing with other otas in order to maximize their market share. however, in almost all cases, rates displayed by otas to the customers are in parity with the branded website. however, these coupon codes or discounts are applicable post selection of the rate. i feel raj rana ceo-south asia, carlson rezidor by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also ofered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? ‘best online rate guarantee’ or borg as we call it is a brand standard for all our hotels and we have strict regulations around its s n i ppets carlson rezidor expands in bengaluru with its third property carlson rezidor, a hospitality major headquartered in brussels, launched its third property in bengaluru, this month. a 45-minute drive from the city’s kempegowda international airport, the upper up-scale hotel, radisson blu atria bengaluru, is very close to the central business district of the city. the hotel has been set up in partnership with the bengaluru based a.s.k. brothers which has invested a sum of around `100 crore in renovating the earlier atria hotel in to its present form. with over 1,250 sq meters of ﬂexible room conﬁgurations, the new hotel features 167 guest rooms and suites which boast of the latest modern amenities. apart from this the hotel also has six meeting spaces, two boardrooms and four food and beverage outlets amongst other facilities. that these discounting practices are temporary in nature and our indian online partners will follow suit like other international otas soon. i do, however, discourage these practices. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? it is a pillow ﬁght which is applicable globally among hotel chains and otas. we are continuously innovating and evolving our processes to increase bookings through our direct channels. along with our branded website, we also have toll free numbers, mobile applications and global sales ofﬁces which act as hotel’s direct channels. of course, otas also continue to invest in order to grow their business. the key is for hotel chains to, despite rate parity, differentiate themselves in loyalty and experience starting from website experience. hotels have an opportunity to engage the customer in person and expand relationships; the power of that needs to be leveraged! innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? the industry is evolving and it is essential that as a global hospitality brand, we are put- ting to use technology in the right manner. being at the forefront of the industry, we see the need to ﬁnd new avenues to bring hotels to life and that is why our research teams are constantly keeping a pulse on today’s consumer behaviour, which is then translat- ed into enhancing our offerings on multiple fronts and not just the online experience. these include building loyalty programs, room amenities, service concepts and even introducing new brands such as radisson red. from the past couple of years, online has been the fastest growing segment for our hotels, mainly because of the change and evolution of new ota models. we have witnessed that the legacy models of otas dustry. at carlson rezidor, we have covered all aspects, ranging from hotel bookings, loyal programs, guest experience to viewing hotel room in vr (virtual reality). looking at vr technologies from the con- sumer angle, technology will deliver more than just an impression but an experience. travellers can have a true feel of the space and venue for more informed decisions. our hotels are getting a good share from both ios and android devices and this is grow- ing as per our expectations. we will not be surprised if the business coming from hand held devices exceed branded websites. is there any perceptible trend in bookings from overseas, in preference for fits against gits? like more individuals booking on the net for your leisure sector? it is true, and the trend is very visible in our hotels as well. today, all travel related services are available online, be it transportation, sightseeing to even ordering your favourite cuisine in the hotel room. as a result, the booking window is shrinking, ranging from 2-7 days, depending upon the destination. secondly, modern day travellers do not customers booking online tend to spent higher on f&b, thus increasing overall wallet share per customer, resulting in better trevpar. are being challenged by metasearch and mobile apps that are gaining popularity as they provide consumers convenience and seamless experience across all travel related services and products. there was a time when hotels wanted to be available on every shelf but this adversely impacted them in the longer run, because of high distribution costs. we, as a group, endeavour to manage an optimal channel mix, which includes vigil on acquisition cost and distinguishing guest experience with our ‘yes, i can’ culture, not only during their stay but also before and after clients’ patronage. going forward, we intend to consolidate our position with intermediaries and explore connection opportunities (to our crs) with major domestic otas in order to align them with our global online partners. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? given the technological advancements in smartphones, it is highly likely that in the near future, everything one does on one’s laptop today will be achievable on a hand- held device or a smartphone. hotels too are leveraging this transition by adapting to this changed reality, as rapidly as any other in- want to get tied up to a ﬁxed schedule as it has been the case till some years ago. they want to make their travel choices while on the move which is driven by mobile apps. having said that, dmcs continues to play a major role in attracting (leisure) inbound business which is a sizeable segment in our leisure hotels. is web booking increasing your average realisations? it does, as brand websites are the most cost effective way to acquire business and even though there is high distribution cost associated with ota business, average adrs are still higher than contracted business. one good thing about retail rates is that they are yieldable, either to boost adr in high demand, or to stimulate demand during valley periods. interestingly, we have also noticed that customers booking online tend to spent higher on f&b, thus increasing overall wal- let share per customer, resulting in better trevpar (or total revenue per available room). hotel bookings made online has seen a spike and this is steered through various promotions by loyalty programs, including club carlson, a carlson rezidor hotel group global loyalty program which allows travellers to enjoy beneﬁts. additionally, booking online on mobile through brand apps have also gained traction as the proﬁle of travellers become more technologically savvy these days.
h ote l s + r e so rts 17 marriott mobile app is driving guest experience to the next level: neeraj govil marriott has recently launched an updated version of its mobile app which supports ive new languages, signifying that the hospitality giant is committed to further strengthening its presence in the online world. neeraj govil shares with us how the group intends to continue its resolute foray. excerpts: by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also ofered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? at marriott, “best rate guarantee” is com- monly known as the “look no further” (lnf) guarantee. marriott’s look no further best rate guarantee (lnf brg) enhances marriott’s long-standing commitment to sell the way the customer wants to buy by offering the same rates on all marriott reservations channels. the guarantee states that the customer will receive the best publicly-available room rate by going direct to marriott – whether calling our worldwide reservations center, visiting marriott.com, or contacting a hotel directly. this guaran- tee means that customers will know that if they come to marriott ﬁrst, they will receive the best rate available and won’t waste time searching other sources trying to get a better one, thus strengthening customer conﬁdence in marriott. should the customer ﬁnd a lower rate elsewhere, he/she can ﬁle a look no further best rate guarantee claim. should the claim be valid, the hotel must then honor the lower rate, as well as take an additional 25% off the lower rate. to encourage hotels to keep control on their lnf claims, we have a process in place to have all hotels review their rates across channels and work towards maintaining parity and uniformity to help reduce the number of claims. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? otas contribute to high single digit mix of our room nights share whereas marriott.com is trending in a double digit share. while our aim is to work collaboratively with each of channel partners to drive incremental bookings and reach new consumers, we maintain complete control over the pricing and inventory, adherence to marriott brand policies is a given. this helps us maintain an equilibrium to provide value to both our customers and channel partners. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? our website, marriott.com, is evolving every day - from improving user experience to reducing the number of clicks and time taken for a customer to convert from a looker to booker. likewise, extensive customer research and member feedback is driving the new mobile app experience and will continue to do so as part of marriott’s ongoing service innovation strategy. as of december 2016, our cumulative online share was one third excluding gds bookings, an annual growth of high double digit over last year. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? marriott is one of the pioneers in mobile technology and experience. having cre- ated one of the most dynamic mobile app, personalized to each guest, we recently launched an updated version supporting 5 new languages for ios users. we under- stand that a mobile experience goes far beyond the one-size-ﬁts-all content. hence, the new marriott mobile app dynamically adjusts to personalize the user’s experience throughout their travel journey. whether members are in trip planning mode, getting ready to travel, in transit, or enjoying their hotel stay, the app will display content and features based on what services members are most likely to need in that moment of their travel journey. according to google, 74 percent of people have at least one travel app on their device. therein lies the opportunity for marriott to engage with marriott is one of the pioneers in mobile technology and experience. having created one of the most dynamic mobile app, personalized to each guest, we recently launched an updated version supporting 5 new languages for ios users. we understand that a mobile experience goes far beyond the one- size-its-all content. hence, the new marriott mobile app dynamically adjusts to personalize the user’s experience throughout their travel journey. ,, area vice president-south asia, marriott international neeraj govil is there any perceptible trend in bookings from overseas, in preference for fits against gits. like more individuals booking on the net for your leisure sector? increasingly, travellers are seeking more authentic destination information from local experts whether they’re choosing where to go or looking for tips for what to do once they get there. for this reason and to the easy ac- cess and simpliﬁed booking mechanism has encouraged user to book their leisure travels themselves. to cater to this and for the ﬁrst time, our app will deliver curated, original content from marriott’s digital magazine, traveller based on users’ previous hotel searches or upcoming travels. travelers on the platforms where they are most active. over 12 million members have taken advantage of our mobile check-in/ checkout and mobile room ready alerts that launched in 2014. with the app’s in- novative new navigation, members will ﬁnd it even easier to customize their stay with mobile requests. guests can use the app to chat directly with hotel staff before, during and after their stays for special requests that require personal attention. our next step is to launch real-time app messag- ing called mplaces with travel and hotel information, recognition and offers at the right time and place for marriott rewards members throughout their stays. other best luxury/upper upscale resort best luxury/upper upscale resort future app features will enable members to the oberoi sukhvilas resort & spa the oberoi sukhvilas resort & spa order restaurant and room service menu meghauli serai, chitwan national park meghauli serai, chitwan national park is web booking increasing your average items delivered wherever they are, such the westin pushkar resort & spa the westin pushkar resort & spa realizations? as lounging by the pool. the new app is bringing marriott’s ﬁne-tuned reputation for absolutely – it is on a strong positive growth best luxury/ upper upscale hotel best luxury/ upper upscale hotel customer service to mobile and in years to trajectory and is projected to grow further taj santacruz taj santacruz come will engage artiﬁcial intelligence to simultaneously with an automation in the conrad pune conrad pune begin testing anticipatory service. travel industry. jw marriott hotel kolkata jw marriott hotel kolkata new chandigarh, india meghauli, nepal pushkar, india mumbai, india pune, india kolkata, india new chandigarh, india meghauli, nepal pushkar, india mumbai, india pune, india kolkata, india hvs announces inalists for the hicsa 2017 hotels of the year awards awards will be conferred upon six hotel segments at the13th edition of hotel investment conference - south asia (hicsa) mysuru, india chandigarh, india faridabad, india best upscale hotel hotel grand mercure mysuru hyatt regency chandigarh radisson blu hotel faridabad best upscale hotel hotel grand mercure mysuru hyatt regency chandigarh radisson blu hotel faridabad mysuru, india chandigarh, india faridabad, india best luxury/upper upscale resort the oberoi sukhvilas resort & spa meghauli serai, chitwan national park the westin pushkar resort & spa new chandigarh, india meghauli, nepal pushkar, india best upper mid market hotel lemon tree premier, city center, gurugram hyatt place goa / candolim ramada resort kumbhalgarh jetwing kaduruketha best upper mid market hotel lemon tree premier, city center, gurugram hyatt place goa / candolim ramada resort kumbhalgarh jetwing kaduruketha new chandigarh, india meghauli, nepal pushkar, india best upper mid market hotel lemon tree premier, city center, gurugram hyatt place goa / candolim ramada resort kumbhalgarh best upper mid market hotel lemon tree premier, city center, gurugram hyatt place goa / candolim ramada resort kumbhalgarh gurugram, india goa, india kumbhalgarh, india wellawaya, sri gurugram, india goa, india kumbhalgarh, india wellawaya, sri best luxury/upper upscale resort the oberoi sukhvilas resort & spa meghauli serai, chitwan national park the westin pushkar resort & spa hvs has announced the ﬁnalists for the ninth ‘hotels of the year awards’. the winners for the 13th edition of hisca will be announced at the event, scheduled to be held on 5th and 6th april at grand hyatt mumbai. close to 50 nominations were received this year and names of the ﬁnalists across the following six categories – which include best luxury/upper upscale resort; best luxury/upper upscale hotel; best upscale hotel; best upper mid-market hotel; best mid-market hotel and best budget/economy hotel. the list of ﬁnalists was derived by a panel of six judges using a detailed point-based analysis model of each hotel’s ranking best upscale hotel across various criteria. like every year, the winners will now hotel grand mercure mysuru be selected by hicsa delegates via an online voting system, hyatt regency chandigarh which will go live starting 15 march 2017 till 5 april 2017. the radisson blu hotel faridabad names of the winning hotels shall be announced on day 1 of the conference as part of the scheduled programme. best luxury/ upper upscale hotel taj santacruz conrad pune jw marriott hotel kolkata best luxury/ upper upscale hotel taj santacruz conrad pune jw marriott hotel kolkata best upscale hotel hotel grand mercure mysuru hyatt regency chandigarh radisson blu hotel faridabad mumbai, india pune, india kolkata, india best mid market hotel mumbai, india the fern residency, udaipur pune, india mercure hyderabad kcp kolkata, india the fern bhavnagar ‐ iscon club & resort best mid market hotel the fern residency, udaipur mercure hyderabad kcp the fern bhavnagar ‐ iscon club & resort mysuru, india chandigarh, india faridabad, india best budget/economy hotel mysuru, india ibis styles goa calangute chandigarh, india kalyan hometel ‐ a sarovar hotel faridabad, india ibis chennai city centre best budget/economy hotel ibis styles goa calangute kalyan hometel ‐ a sarovar hotel ibis chennai city centre gurugram, india goa, india kumbhalgarh, india wellawaya, sri lanka gurugram, india goa, india kumbhalgarh, india wellawaya, sri lanka udaipur, india hyderabad, india bhavnagar, india udaipur, india hyderabad, india bhavnagar, india goa, india chennai, india chennai, india goa, india chennai, india chennai, india
18 h ote l s + r e so rts we anticipate our mobile traic to surpass desktop users very soon: chinmai sharma discussing the vital role that the digital space is to play in the sales and distribution strategy of the taj group, chinmai sharma, chief revenue oicer, taj hotels resorts and palaces talks about the importance of otas, both domestic and international, in garnering a loyalty base as well as building web revenues. in an exclusive talk with tourismfirst, he expounds how the app space is continuously on an upward trajectory and discusses how web bookings have resulted in a higher yield and hence, in turn, better value creation. we invested heavily in the website content, including images and videos and even 3 virtual reality ilms to showcase our properties. these initiatives have resulted in a triple digit increase of revenue (though from a small base) from mobile channels in this inancial year. at its current growth rate, we anticipate our mobile traic to surpass our desktop user traic very soon. ,, chief revenue officer, taj hotels resorts and palaces chinmai sharma by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also ofered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? taj direct best rate guarantee is a promise to our guests that the best rates and offers will be available to the customer on our website. we are conﬁdent of our best rate guarantee and offer a price match plus a further 10% discount if a customer ﬁnds a lower publically available rate within 24 hours for the same room/suite type and rate conditions. customer acquisition and given the fact that a typical traveller will shop a few sites before booking – we do beneﬁt from their ‘billboard effect’. while we might not be able to match the reach of a major ota partner, our focus has been on curating a great surﬁng experience for all our web visitors. the typical taj guest is seeking unique and bespoke experiences – both at our hotels and in the destinations where we operate. over the last 12 months we have added great content and rich imagery for our hotels and destinations. in addition we have developed mobile responsive websites which render a great experience irrespective of device and platform. these initiatives have started to show results and currently our website is the fastest growing channel. there are many beneﬁts beyond the best rate when a guest books directly through our website - our award winning loyalty program, taj innercircle, has one of the best earning rates for a hotel loyalty program when you book through our hotel website. members of taj innercircle also receive exclusive offers via the website which they would not receive on any other channel. the simultaneous growth in our loyalty base and web revenues over the last couple of years are strong indicators that this offering has been well received by our consumers. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? one of the key beneﬁts of our ota partners is their reach. their marketing spend and global reach does help us with new innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? in 2015, we embarked on a journey of digital transformation of our interfaces, channels, and customer touch points to make sure that our online experience is in line with our ofﬂine experience where taj has been a pioneer for over a 100 years. as part of this journey, we tied up with the best in class design, hosting and cms companies to launch a world-class website that was intuitive and responsive. in addition we added lots of relevant hotel and destination content to make it easier for our site visitors to ﬁnd what they need. these initiatives have resulted in a 40-45% growth in our web bookings this year. digital is one of the most critical part of our sales and distribution strategy going forward and we are working on ways to further reduce the cost of acquisition using our own website and apps. internet as a channel already contributes about a quarter of our overall room revenue and we expect this number to reach 35-40% within the next few years. the next phase of this journey will include enhancements to our website, mobile apps, payment solutions and also some exciting changes at the physical touch points of our hotels. our digital business plan is simple – to provide engaging and relevant content across all devices and platforms in the preferred language and currency of our guests. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app year. at its current growth rate, we anticipate our mobile trafﬁc to surpass our desktop user trafﬁc very soon. this is especially interest- ing given that our typical reservation value is quite high. with a large base of loyal consumers under taj innercircle, a mobile app is an essential part of our mobile strategy going forward. we have recently launched a hybrid version of the mobile app and will shortly be rolling out full-ﬂedged native app to ease the consumer journey before, during and after checkout. is there any perceptible trend in bookings from overseas, in preference for fits against gits? like more individuals booking on the net for your leisure sector? with 101 hotels in 64 locations across 11 countries, the taj brand is gaining global recognition and we are seeing a steady increase with our brand being a popular choice among international travellers seeking bespoke indian hospitality and authentic experiences. a good part of our international guests are using international ota’s and/ or traditional travel agencies to book their the major reason why web bookings and digital channels form the crux of our growth strategy is because of their high yield. our digital business plan is simple – to provide engaging and relevant content across all devices and platforms. from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? we have seen a major shift in the trafﬁc to our website from desktops to mobile devices. while the website trafﬁc was heavily skewed towards desktops till a couple of years ago, the trafﬁc at present is split equally between computers and hand-held devices. we also note that the platform usage changes during the day for the same visitor (desktop during the day, mobile during evening and tablets at night). the launch of our responsive website in march last year was the ﬁrst step in our journey towards mobile commerce and has been well received by our customers. with mobile connectivity improving tremendously in india, we realised that the time was right to make a quantum leap in the kind of content we use to portray our properties on the mobile interface. we invested heavily in the website content including images and videos and even 3 vir- tual reality ﬁlms to showcase our properties. these initiatives have resulted in a triple digit increase of revenue (though from a small base) from mobile channels in this ﬁnancial travel. at the same time, we have noticed that an increasing number of leisure travellers are booking on our website with larger lead times and length of stay. our unique hotels are now also available as customisable packages in the form of taj holidays – the new taj holidays web experience is designed to make the discovery and booking experience simple as well as seamless. we also working towards launching our brand website in select international languages very soon. is web booking increasing your average realisations? the major reason why web bookings and digital channels form the crux of our growth strategy is because of their high yield, a great guest booking experience and the fact that we ‘own’ the customer. on average, a booking made via our website is nearly 30% higher in value than a booking made through other channels. this allows us to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy on digital to increase the revenue share through the website while keeping the cost of acquisition the lowest.
h ote l s + r e so rts 19 tech disruptions changing guest behaviour, creating complicated challenges: arif patel technology assimilation in day to day operations has created a new set of challenges, forcing hotels to pursue innovation relentlessly to stay relevant in an extremely dynamic marketplace, says arif patel. a detailed interview follows: by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also ofered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? for otas and even e-commerce companies in general, all players essentially sell the same stuff from the same merchants to the same customers at the same prices. with no difference in merchandise, they often resort to price variation to attract customers. but in my opinion, burning cash through subsidies and discounts is not a sustainable model. while it may help with ﬁrst time customer acquisition, a very small percentage cus- tomers acquired through such unproﬁtable methods stick. accorhotels has taken a tough stand on pricing parity as we promise “best rate guarantee” for our guests. if you book an accorhotels property online on any accorhotels internet site and ﬁnd an equivalent offer within 24 hours on another website for the same hotel at a lower price, we will honour the lower rate and give you a further reduction of 10%. this goes on to demonstrate our commitment to price parity and how it is a non-negotiable point for us. we always say that otas are great for customer acquisition. a potential guest in nagpur who wants to stay at a novotel hotel in kolkata probably might not have heard of novotel kolkata hotel and residences if otas did not exist. they are providing us with a ﬁrst-time client, at a cost which is cheaper than us creating a sales engine in nagpur. basically, when the guest visits our hotel, we need to ensure that they feel welcome. we need to also identify him or her, and invite them, whenever they visit the accorhotels network, so next time around they don’t have to go back to an ota. we call this the retention program. we are doing it in a very transparent man- ner, even vis-a-vis otas. they know we are doing it, and they are ﬁne with it. because most of their volume is ﬁrst-time customers, which means we don’t have common inter- ests, but we have common ambition, which is to develop the travel and tourism world. my thoughts may vary from that of a small inde- pendent hotel owner and operator. because if i have a retention program, that means i want that customer to beneﬁt from the other brands, and the other 3,999 hotels (besides the one he stayed at), which is my strength. if you are an independent hotel, and you only own one hotel, and every time you are going to have to pay an ota, because you don’t have something else to offer. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? otas have and will always be extended partners for leading hospitality players like ourselves. like i mentioned earlier, they are great for ﬁrst time customer acquisition. but one cannot only rely on otas to reach out to the target audiences. as the landscape continues to evolve, a well-balanced distribu- tion and sales strategy which includes both directly-generated as well as ota generated bookings is key. over the past couple of years, we have accelerated focus on our own sales and distribution engines. we are mak- ing bold moves to get a bigger share of the pie via direct channels and control our costs by cutting down on often steep commissions. today, we are willing to make big, effective and inﬂuential marketing investments to dis- pel the myth that the lower rates can only be found on otas. as a matter of fact, accorho- tels is known world over to offer the “best rate guarantee” to guests when they book with us instead of choosing an ota. we do realise that we need to focus on conversions while also driving better user experience, data management and data analysis to make this happen. the silver lining and where we clearly have a competitive edge is understanding the needs of our customers and driving enriched guest experience to engender loyalty amongst our customers. it is crucial for hotels to make guests’ travel expe- riences easier overall with the use of mobile apps, to know how to surprise and delight guests, and to ﬁnd the best ways to engage and communicate with guests the way they vp sales, mktg, distribution & loyalty, accorhotels india arif patel we are operating in a highly competitive business environment, with technology disruptions and changing guest behaviours creating newer and more complicated challenges for industry players. it plays a pivotal role in promoting tourism, especially inbound travel, to ensure steady inlow of guests to help sustain and grow businesses. hotels also need to innovate and reinvent on a daily basis in order to stay relevant. ,, we need to be where our customers are today, ensuring that we are present across platforms. want to interact with the hotel. i’d again like to say that otas are in no shape and form a ‘challenge’ for us. it is the start-ups and newer models that are disrupting the landscape, and although we continue to grow bigger, there is no better time to start now. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? innovation is the cornerstone of success for any industry and hotels are no different. we are operating in a highly competitive business environment, with technology disruptions and changing guest behaviours creating newer and more complicated challenges for industry players. it plays a pivotal role in promoting tourism, especially inbound travel, to ensure steady inﬂow of guests to help sustain and grow businesses. hotels also need to innovate and reinvent on a daily basis in order to stay relevant and distinguish themselves amidst intense competition. take goa for example. accorhotels is the largest hotel operator in the beach state with three properties and more coming up this year. however, the competition in goa is intense with plenty of standalone properties as well as branded hotels to choose from. so how do we stay relevant and differentiate ourselves? the key lies in innovation. for the launch of india’s ﬁrst ibis styles hotel in goa, we not only invested in content that markets the property but also content that evokes and appeals to the audience the hotel targets. through the creative use of popular chan- nels, including social media, we were able to reach as many as 20 million potential guests through facebook alone. promotional videos we created, including “fake a vacation to goa” and “things parents never say about goa”, went viral as they attracted as many as 5.5 million views and over 80,000 shares, and counting. we have come up with similar innovative digital media campaigns for some of our other recent openings and existing properties. the key to their success was not in promoting the hotel or the brand alone but the destination itself, thus boosting inbound tourism and helping increase footfalls and recall over a period of time. if we look at guest experience, we are leveraging technology to enhance it and add value before, during and after a guest’s hotel stay. last year capped off the “digital transformation” plan for accorhotels which addresses a full range of digital channels, making accorhotels the leader in a fast- changing industry. we are investing 225 million euros over a ﬁve-year period and are leading the charge in the hospitality space. what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? in terms of pure top line performance, 2017 looks to be a very promising year for accorhotels in india and we anticipate a very healthy double digit growth year-on- year, at a much higher pace than what we experienced in 2016. we are moving quickly to invest in digital infrastructure and invest and nurture talent within our organization. it requires entire rethinking step by step. we need to ramp up our investments in infrastructure, optimize all platforms and provide a customised experience to our guests. we need to be where our customers are today and ensure that we are present across platforms and devices, and have a sharp focus on our mobile-led plans for future where the transactions are with much shorter lead times and are extremely price sensitive. additionally content would form the backbone of our overarching digital plan – be it video, visual or text. is web booking increasing your average realisations? like i mentioned earlier, our businesses are growing and the consumer behaviour is fast changing. internet proliferation and mobile penetration is rapidly increasing in india and our consumers are researching and booking us across various platforms and devices. they are having a 24x7 dialogue with us through various social media platforms. as we take a more content driven approach and are able to engage and create more personalized experiences for our online guests, our conversions would only grow with a better return on our investments. with technology comes better access to deeper consumer insights, data trends and analytics, and if we are able to marry our strategy and tactics at both corporate and line of business levels, we would be able to maximize our rois. technology-led innovations have opened up the horizon for hoteliers and the opportunity for growth are aplenty, provided we not just respond to but proactively anticipate how our guests consume information on these platforms and put technology to use.
20 h ote l s + r e so rts mergers will make it diicult for copycat models to emerge and succeed: coo, oyo abhinav sinha shares his understanding of the online market space, beside detailing oyo’s latest push in se asian markets. travellers these days are increasingly driven by impulse. despite these last- minute bookings, travelers have a irm expectation of service and experience. while these factors remain non- negotiable, travellers also expect more engagement with the brand. the onus is on the innovators to understand this “impulse-planning” paradox and integrate services and technology to meet customer expectations. ,, there will always be room for innovation. what are some key trends in 2017? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? travellers these days are increasingly driven by impulse. today, nearly 61% of oyo book- ings are made within 24 hours prior to the check-in. despite these last-minute bookings, travellers have a ﬁrm expectation of service and experience. while these factors remain non-negotiable, travellers also expect more engagement with the brand. the onus is on the innovators to understand this “impulse- planning” paradox and integrate services and technology to meet customer expectations. omni-channel servicing is the other critical piece. the customer can approach with a concern on any platform but the resolution needs to be quick and efﬁcient. we understand that you have launched a brand called townhouse. what does it entail? oyo townhouse addresses the disconnect between demand and supply of quality living spaces by creating a perfect equilibrium between location, comfort and price. our proprietary technology and skilled talent pool of hospitality experts come together to take hospitality to a whole new level at the oyo townhouse. oyo townhouse is based on the needs of the millennial traveller. it is part hotel, part home, part cafe and part merchandise store. every single element of the hotel – from the breakfast menu to the booking process has been re-engineered for comfort, efﬁciency, convenience and affordability. each townhouse is designed to complement its neighbourhood. you have made an announcement to expand oyo to some southeast asian countries recently. so, what has made you take this call? southeast asian market has attractive char- acteristics like high smartphone penetration and high share of online bookings in the travel sector. mobile can be as high as 75% of online business in some countries here. supply in the budget segment continues to be fragmented, with customers facing problems ranging from discovery to predict- ability to convenience. customer experience also is broken in several areas. all this makes for an exciting business opportunity and we continue to explore se asian mar- kets for possible future expansion. th13 hotel investment conference - south asia (hicsa) 2017 grand hyatt mumbai abhinav sinha chief operating officer – oyo by tf bureau there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture is, and will, inluence innovation in the marketplace? in the last few years, india’s startup landscape witnessed momentous growth. very exciting work has happened in the area of payments, hospitality, e-commerce, transport, logistics, healthcare and other verticals including b2b saas products. traditional business models have been disrupted and real problems are being solved – oyo in hospitality is just one example. three things for me deﬁne how the startup culture is going to deﬁne the indian economy in the future. first, startups are solving real prob- lems for consumers and businesses, improving how consumers lead their lives and creating value for businesses every day. second, some of the smartest and most innovative brains are now found in the indian start up ecosystem. this has laid the foundation for attracting the best talent in the future as well. finally, current crop of start-ups are building the technol- ogy ecosystem that will take india into the future. establishing this ecosystem of excellent developers, product managers, designers, data se asian market has attractive characteristics like high mobile penetration and high share of online bookings. scientists, and engineers is laying the platform for innovations to come. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? mergers and acquisitions will perhaps make it tougher for copycat models to emerge and succeed. but what the budget travel market more speciﬁcally presents is a large opportunity for new companies to continue to innovate along the dimensions of consumer experience, content, discovery, localisation, ease of use, etc. also, the market is huge with more than 2 mil- lion rooms in india, compared to approximately 100,000 rooms in "branded" indian hotels. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies, raising concern over the growing cartelization of business in the online space. what is your take on this? not really, the overall travel market is huge and there are several opportunities to innovate. this will make it very difﬁcult for a single player or a set of players to dominate the entire travel market – hosted by register now | 5-6 april, 2017 notable speakers amitabh kant chief executive officer, niti aayog arun nanda chairman, mahindra holidays and resorts india ashish jakhanwala managing director and ceo, samhi binod chaudhary chairman, cg corp global christopher j nassetta president and ceo, hilton worldwide craig smith president and md - asia pacific, marriott international david scowsill president and ceo, world travel and tourism council deep kalra chairman and group ceo, makemytrip.com jonathan vanica managing director asian special situations group, goldman sachs kavin c bloomer executive director, morgan stanley mark hoplamazian president and ceo, hyatt hotels corporation michael issenberg chairman and ceo - asia pacific, accorhotels peter fulton group president - eame and sw asia, hyatt hotels corporation peter kerkar group chief executive officer, cox and kings rakesh sarna managing director and ceo, taj hotels resorts and palaces thorsten kirschke president - asia pacific, carlson rezidor hotel group vikram oberoi managing director and ceo, the oberoi group patrons co-host platinum partners gold partners supported by onsite daily partner for participation, please write to email@example.com or log on to www.hicsaconference.com
h ote l s + r e so rts 21 lack of institutional players taking a toll on the hospitality landscape, says j b singh while demonetisation may have led to some stress in the real estate market, impacting the growth projection for the hospitality industry in the short and medium term, the larger issue of having a limited number of institutional players is a bigger concern facing the industry, says j b singh. by shashank shekhar being the biggest stake holder in the aerocity, what is your take on the government’s decision of allowing commercial usage of airport land? how do you see the decision impacting the shareholders in a good way? first of all, it is very good that the government is looking at a lot of initiatives in a more holistic way. from a traveller’s convenience perspective, catchment market perspective, for hoteliers to get to where the tourists were was one of the key challenges for us. this is a win-win for everyone. we want to go where the customers are and the government can use these initiatives, which is right now only for airports, to start to make it come up in other areas as more infrastructure develops. it could be large convention centers, or it could be amusement parks. it could be all kinds of things. we have seen that the off-take of our hotels has been very good. a lot of occupancies have been exceedingly well and we are quite happy. we want to see more and more of such initiatives around airports, and possibly other areas as well. the idea of aerocity was envisaged as a sort of a connection to the airport. do you reckon it has fulilled its promise and potential? actually, a lot still remains to be done and whilst we have seen the plans around the whole development of the entire district whether it is in terms of horticulture, or of amusement, walkways and jogging tracks etc. it is far from complete. of course, we are assured that work is being done but a lot of the development that was supposed to happen has also happened in ﬁts and starts. i think developers like us sometimes struggle because we try and stick to our own timelines and are very keen on trying and meeting our commitments but i suppose it is the ﬁrst one so we should wait. there are other things as well that need to be done. if you just look at the access to the airport, the moment you get off the highway, getting in and out of the airport itself is not seamless. so, i think a lot of that also has to be looked into for making the entire experience seamless. the demonetisation exercise has had quite an impact on real estate and real estate as a sector is very important to how hotels come up or go down. what is your take on how the market will unfold in the coming year or two? do you think that stress will continue? how do you see it panning out? i think a lot of that started to stall a few years back when the hotels were supposedly not doing well. i think we will see a bit of some of that lag coming in over the next couple of years. as of now, there is just not enough in the pipeline so we will just see some shrinkage in supply coming in. as far as demonetisation is concerned, it all depends on how property markets react to it. there is bound to be some softening in the property market. as of now, there is just not enough in the pipeline so we will just see some shrinkage in supply coming in. as far as demonetisation is concerned, it all depends on how property markets react to it. there is bound to be some softening in the property market. we will continue to observe how long this trend plays out. but i think as far as supply is concerned, a lot of the individual players might re-think their options of increasing the short and medium term expansion. ,, j b singh ceo, interglobe technology quotient we will continue to observe how long this trend plays out. but i think as far as supply is concerned, a lot of the individual players might re-think their options of increasing the short and medium term expansion. this is great news for institutional players like us because we will continue to grow. one of the biggest issues that the industry has been facing, which is a reason for some of the hotels not doing so well, is that most of the hotels have been individually owned. there have been very few institutional players. i think we all have to pull up our socks and need to make sure we build our hotels efﬁciently. land will always continue to be a prime resource in our country. user experience and tech innovations at the forefront of our online business strategy with the dawn of the milliennials, there has been a profound shift in the way bookings are being made, most notably is the surge in online bookings. harleen mehta believes that this transition is equally beneicial for their direct channels as well as for ota partners. also, like other major players in the hospitality industry, hyatt too has seen increasing number of app users, ensuring that the mobile app traic has outperformed desktop traic numbers. excerpts of her interview follows: otas are a signiicant part of the hospitality industry and we value our association with our ota partners. having said this, our association with all major otas has contractual protection to ensure that they are unable to undercut our best rates. we continuously monitor exceptions and instances at both corporate and regional levels. all this also depends on the source of rate parity issues.,, vp, sales operations - south asia, hyatt hotels harleen mehta by tf bureau how do you ensure ‘best rate guarantee’ on your hotel’s website, especially at a time when you have also ofered it to otas, many of whom are subsidizing room rates by paying out of their own pocket to garner a bigger market share? all the direct sales channels of hyatt in- cluding our website and mobile app across platforms offer a best rate guarantee. otas are a signiﬁcant part of the hospitality industry and we value our association with our ota partners. having said this, our association with all major otas has contractual protection to ensure that they are unable to undercut our best rates. we continuously monitor exceptions and instances at both corporate and regional levels. all this also depends on the source of rate parity issues. do you reckon that your own website would be able to match the might of otas ever in terms of outreach? hotel industry has approximately 50% branded hotels (in apac as per a hotelnews report). with the advent of alternative lodging options via airbnb and other online websites, the percentage is still lower. when you look at segments of luxury travellers, hotel loyalty members or cities/regions where global hotel chains have a good distribution strength, the hotel website is able to compete with and exceed the ota reach. at hyatt, our focus is not just on improving direct business with our loyal guests but also to work with our trusted ota partners to capture incremental business and introduce them to the world of hyatt. innovation is a critical component to technological growth. how are you going about enhancing the online experience of the consumer? what is the share of the business coming from the cumulative online space, including your own website, domestic and foreign otas, and how do you intend to take this forward? what is your business plan for the next couple of years? user experience and technological innovations are at the forefront of our online business strategy for the coming years. as we transition from the last generation of travellers to the millennial generation, we see a shift from ofﬂine bookings to online bookings. this surge is equally beneﬁcial for our direct channels as well trusted ota partners. the ofﬂine to online is deﬁnitely more pronounced in the leisure segment than the business segment. however, as we see more of the millennial generation travelling on business, there is a shift in behaviour and accommodation type choice for this segment as well. we are excited to meet these new challenges and tweak our business strategy accordingly. how is the transition from computers to hand-hand devices happening? how are you capturing the brilliance of your product on the mobile? how much of your online business has moved to app from computers? if you have not moved to the app then will you be taking to it? will that be the next logical step? we have already been making headway in the mobile and app space for the past few years. the growth in our mobile and app trafﬁc has been outperforming desktop trafﬁc growth. we are constantly improving and optimizing our user experience on mobile and apps to meet the needs of our guests. this will be an ongoing exercise. the next phase of technological development will entail responding to voice based search and internet of things being the norm in homes and user behaviour. is web booking increasing your average realizations? online bookings have a reduced transaction compared to ofﬂine bookings. the average realization is in turn higher provided the net rate yielded is the same in both cases.
22 tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht google will continue to be a machine learning-irst company, says rob terres rob terres, managing director, travel at google opened up on several ongoing projects in the technology giant and how constant innovation, especially nuances like voice assist, was going to forever alter the way consumers look at travel and tourism. we bring you excerpts of his one-on-one interaction with lorraine sileo of phocuswright. by tf bureau on google trips the product was just launched; not even a year ago. and, it has been downloaded quite a few times. it is doing quite well. i think, you know, we have got a long way to go, because i think the biggest question that i get is that this is great and i love the idea that it is gathering on my itineraries at one place, but at the end of the day i want to be able to book something from this. you are recommending me a trip to the taj mahal, but i cannot book from there. so, i think the step is that how do we make it more bookable; how do we develop it so that we can book directly. so, i think there is a long way to go, but we are very happy on the fact that how many people have downloaded the product. on the possibility of ancillaries being bookable on trips in the next year i do not work on the product team side, i work on the sales and advertising side. we work closely with our product team – and certainly, we have seen the roadmap and hopefully, some time we will see this happen. on the next biggest thing related to travel. there will be a lot more of this questioning all the time. you have got this smartphone on you 24*7; you are walking in the house and all you have to say is ‘ok google’, let us think about where to go. i was with the ceo of a car company and he said that in the united states, by 2020, all cars will come with connectivity built-in. so, you will be connected, no matter where you go. so, you are going to become really used to asking questions at all times, and add to machine learning and it gets better and better. when you ask these questions, it actually learns. how this is going to help in the personalisation of travel is something that is really going to change the game; it will be able to offer opportunities and probable suggestions for you based on machine learning which is going to be very important. on google being machine learning irst and not a mobile-irst platform by 2020, n the united states, all cars will come with connectivity built-in. so, you will be connected, no matter where you go. so, you are going to become really used to asking questions at all times, and add to machine learning , and it gets better and better. travel at google when we think about the future of travel as this immersive experience, certain types of technologies (voice assist) are really going to change the game. on how that changes the way google is thinking about travel well, already voice related searches, on android and ios, are nearly 25% of all queries happening in the united states. if you think about young kids that are using phones, they use voice search for everything. they do not think about the future of this and where it is going. what does that mean for travel in the future as far as these products go? i just think that there is an opportunity to think about, i think, how that will change the way people think about travel. how they purchase travel and how they research well, in terms of where we are going, we have totally bought in on this ability that machines, because of the amounts of data it can utilise, it can solve problems so much quicker that we could in the past. so, basically you can tell the computer what to do, feed in the data, and it is getting smarter and smarter all the time. and, if you think about the kinds of opportunities that it presents with, not only in travel but anything that we are doing at google is that it gives you the chance to get better answers of the questions that you are asking. this is how it is going to help us do a much better job in answering those questions that you are asking. on plans for aggregating all the itineraries across the world and pushing something out we know your ﬂight information, hotel well, already voice related searches, on android and ios, are nearly 25% of all queries happening in the united states. if you think about young kids that are using phones, they use voice search for everything. they do not think about the future of this and where it is going. what does that mean for travel in the future as far as these products go? i just think that there is an opportunity to think about, i think, how that will change the way people think about travel. ,, rob terres, managing director, travel at google details and where you are going. we know what you did there in the past, so that we can provide you better recommendation on the next trip, based on what we learnt in the last trip. on google hotel finder and if google is cannibalising revenue from key players it is deﬁnitely proﬁtable enough. so, as i said earlier, we look ourselves as a search engine and want to connect people to give out information while at the same time help our partners gather more leads. hotel finder does a much better job and converts a much higher rate than a normal advertisement does when it is shown, and the way it is shown on a page. part of it is because of the inclusion of the rates and, others, that really allow for a more robust experience – and that is really why we went online and created products anyway. so, we do not see it as cannibalisation, but a way to covert much better for our partners and a much better experience for our travellers and consumers. s n i ppets expedia ailiate network launches new deal inding tool, deals finder, for its ailiate partners to enhance marketing activities the expedia afﬁliate network recently launched a deal ﬁnding tool called ‘deals finder’ within the white label platform. the tool will allow third party websites to select hotel deals to power their marketing campaigns. the move is aimed at enabling its partners to choose more speciﬁc hotel deals and thus drive online conversion to increase brand loyalty. the tool is said to have a simple interface and gets the desired results in seconds as well as advanced ﬁltering features including star rating, percentage discount and customer travel dates. the deals can then be used to enhance the partner’s marketing activities such as landing pages, e-mail campaigns and banner advertising. the deals finder which is available as an additional tool to ean partners, features all the deals available on ean, which number more than 6,50,000 hotel deals that are available for up to 18 months ahead of booking date.
tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht 23 startups are a fundamental part of the economic fabric of india, says ceo, yatra.com contrary to the notion that consolidation in the marketplace acts as a deterrent for startups in their bid to ind a foothold in a dynamic business environment, dhruv shringi believes that startups must be ready to compete with established players and emerge victorious if they wish to scale up. excerpts of his interview on various facets of the online travel and technology segment. from an online travel technology perspective, irms are using technology to create diferentiation. technology is advancing at a rate of knots with new software empowering small businesses to streamline operations and maximize eiciency. one of the most powerful competitive tools now accessible to companies is business intelligence software powered by big data analytics.,, dhruv shringi co-founder & ceo, yatra.com by tf bureau there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture will inluence innovation in the marketplace? the indian economy is growing from strength to strength and the start-up eco- system has evolved signiﬁcantly over the past decade. the government's policies, such as ‘make in india’ and ‘startup india’, have given impetus to the investment landscape for start-ups in india. indian entrepreneurs have responded to this and the last few years has seen the emergence of a plethora of start-ups in various areas, particularly the online space. all this has driven a tremendous level of innovation in the marketplace as there is always someone starting up, trying to do things differently from the status quo. i believe that we have a strong culture of innovation that is being driven by the whole start-up eco-system and this will result in some great products emanating from india. one of the things that is critical for a start-ups is to manage the innovation portfolio/process to navigate from idea stage to market launch and adoption phase. being backed by a strong bunch of vc investors often helps make this transition and is the reason behind the success of an idea. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? it sure does make it diicult for them to ind a foothold in a competitive marketplace? mergers and acquisitions are a part and parcel of any evolving market or business, and often help bring about changes that are good for all the industry participants. it also often helps unlock the true value and growth potential of the sector. competition is an integral part of any marketplace and a start-up needs to be ready to compete and win if they are to scale up, so i do not think mergers and acquisitions is a deterrent in any manner to the growth of the start-up eco-system. start-ups are now a fundamental part of the economic fabric of this country and play a crucial role in furthering growth and innovation in the marketplace. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? i think there is plenty of competition in key online sectors, both prior to and even after these m & a deals. i don't see any cartelisation in the online travel business as there are plenty of strong players that continue to operate and compete fairly and squarely. as i mentioned earlier, m & a often is a very positive things for the entire industry in terms of unlocking value in the business. what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? for the online travel industry, several tail- winds are anticipated to bolster the growth such as surging internet and smartphone penetration, more ﬂexible aviation policies and infrastructural development. these fac- tors are not only bringing in new customers from tier 2 and tier 3 markets but also ena- bling better connectivity of tourist location in the country thus catalysing domestic as well as inbound tourism. all these will surely con- tribute to a robust, long-term growth outlook for india’s travel market in general and the online travel market in particular. from an online travel technology perspec- tive, ﬁrms are using technology to create differentiation. technology is advancing at a rate of knots with new software empowering small businesses to streamline operations and maximize efﬁciency. one of the most powerful competitive tools now accessible to companies is business intelligence software powered by big data analytics. in the cur- rent market scenario, it is important to keep innovating and differentiating by segment- ing customers on the basis of the data and tailoring your travel offerings speciﬁcally for these segments. mobile has become a key area for innovation and reinement of service by online players? do you reckon that the apac, especially indian and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? will we see more companies embracing the idea of mobile-irst? mobile and smartphone prices are crashing, and internet penetration is increasing rapidly with data becoming very cheap. this is driving the tier 2 and tier 3 town customers in india online via their mobiles. it has changed the way people shop and reﬂects the “anytime, anywhere” buying habits of today’s consumer. companies understand this ecosystem of the vast and quickly growing indian mobile commerce market, and have over time transformed and improved their mobile experience for their customers. more than 60% of our trafﬁc comes via the mobile and it is the same for other online companies in india and the apac region. inevitably, innovating on the mobile is a key part of our tech strategy right now and for the future and we will be investing aggressively in this area. over the past 12 months, we launched some very interesting product features on the mobile including a lite multi-lingual app for smaller markets, an fb chat bot, voice search over the mobile, ﬂight and trains live stats, booking of uber and ola cabs within our app and allowing user sign-in using truecaller. there is no doubt that mobile is the present and the future. with an eye on leisure travellers, accorhotels launches online tool for group booking accorhotels has recently unveiled a leisure online tool to further cement its position in the online space. the user-friendly tool is likely to boost its online penetration. by tf bureau accorhotels recently announced the launch of their new group online booking tool, leisure online(lol). the tool is meant for partners in the indian tourism sector including tour operators as well as travel agencies. the tool which provides data in real time and best rates form the all over the world can be used for group bookings of 15 to 60 people and 8 to 30 rooms. including india, there are more than 900 hotels and resorts to choose from across the globe. the user-friendly tool is designed like a booking engine for ease of use and is available anywhere, anytime allowing bookers to consult single, double and twin room availability and book their preferences instantly. it also allows to pre- book directly in the hotel’s system, including additional services like restaurant bookings and porterage. arif patel, vice president sales, marketing, distribution & loyalty, accorhotels india noted “indians today have emerged as the world’s newest globetrotters, spurred by a vastly improved spending power coupled with declining airfares, improved connectivity and strong uptake for visa on arrival and e-visas. increasingly more indians, especially from non-metro cities are turning to travel as the primary leisure option and the trend will continue to stronger in times to come. that said, group bookings remain a cumbersome task for tourism fraternity.” “for the ﬁrst time, a hotel group is introducing a solution that considerably simpliﬁes the unwieldy leisure group booking procedure, saving time for both tourism professionals and our own teams,” he added. speaking to tourismfirst, rohit chopra, director regional sales, accorhotels said “the demand of the leisure segment is quite high. the kind of outbound business emitting from india, it being ranked the 5th largest emitting market seeing double digit growth of outbound travel, this was our ﬁrst step towards supporting this segment. there is no contracting or paperwork involved at all. the entire process is online. even a screenshot of the booking is good enough for conﬁrmation.” talking about the plans for expansion, he said “given that the digital space is always evolving, we have a dedicated team who are continuously working on new initiatives. let us wait and watch for the time being as there are a couple of more things in the pipeline which we will share with our friends at the earliest.” rohit chopra director regional sales, accorhotels the demand of the leisure segment is quite high. the kind of outbound business emitting from india, it being ranked the 5th largest emitting market seeing double digit growth of outbound travel, this was our irst step towards supporting this segment. there is no contracting or paperwork involved at all. the entire process is online. even a screenshot of the booking is good enough for conirmation. ,,
24 tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht big data and artiicial intelligence will change the industry landscape forever betting big on artiicial intelligence and data analysis, rajnish kumar equated these developments with the industrial revolution and the internet revolution, asserting that these in the coming years were going to alter the industry landscape forever and good. by tf bureau let us start with talking about the whole eco-system with regard to startups. you yourself were a start-up once. you started in 2006 but the atmosphere was much less convoluted. there are a lot of new things that are making the terrain more diicult. what has been observed is that there is a lot of cartelisation that has been happening. parent companies have been buying stake into companies. so essentially, you have one company having stakes in ive diferent companies, and in a way controlling the companies. this has especially been seen with regard to some of the chinese players making a foray into the indian market. how do you see all this making an impact on the whole startup culture? things are very different from what they were. there are mainly 2-3 differences. one is that easy access to funds was not really available back when we started. secondly, there was no such thing as the discounting economy. people did not have that kind of money to spend. this is one of the reasons we grew so rapidly. our product had a value proposition and hence, word of mouth kicked in and facilitated the rapid growth. this is something which we ﬁnd very difﬁcult to achieve in today’s market because what happened in 2014-15 was that the sheer amount of money that got pumped into the system, led to many other things like organisations being able to, as you said, cartelise. the easiest way to get traction, if one had the money, was to start discounting. this is what everybody started doing and this ended up becoming a stamina game. a good thing that happened in 2016 was that this model resulted in the downfall of a lot of these companies. this effectively made 2016 more conducive because a lot of the investors started to look at the revenue numbers and the unit economics which did not present a very pretty picture. so, raising money in 2016 became a lot more difﬁcult. we ourselves tried to raise money in 2016, and we frankly did, but it was quite difﬁcult. the third big difference is the global dynam- ics. when the discounting model came to be, economies like china, which drive world economics, faced a very tough time and what that resulted in was that a lot of large chinese companies realised that they needed to hedge somewhere. they could not just hedge inside the chinese economy and the only other economy where they thought they could hedge was the indian economy as it still had a lot of room. the indian economy today looks like what the chinese economy looked like about ﬁve to six, if not ten years ago. there is a lot to be learned. we could probably replicate a lot of the templates from the chinese economy over here. everything said and done, india is yet to see a very large company built as a start-up. being one of the pioneers in the indian market, you must have had the opportunity to expand globally? what are the factors that lead you to prioritise the indian market over others? well, we did expand back in 2009-10. frankly, it was not a great experience for us because you tend to lose focus. travel has always been a very bloody market because rajnish kumar cto and co-founder, ixigo.com there are a large number of players and it is highly competitive. especially, if you go to markets like the us and europe, the competition is way ﬁercer. everybody in these markets is vying for the same eyeballs. it did not really work out well for us. the reason why we are focussing on the indian economy is that we do not want to lose our foothold here and the home-ground advantage that we have, having been around for so long. we believe that there is huge upcoming potential right here than compared to the other markets. why would you still just want to be a search engine and not move to the commercial space where you have your own booking engine? please elaborate on this a little. this is a question everybody asks. it is a very valid question, to be honest. when we started back then, ideally starting of as an ota was a better option because they were not as many players out there. see, meta only becomes relevant when there is a problem of plenty and a problem of choice. this problem did not exist back then. now, there are enough number of players out there and this number is only going to increase as the government is now taking a very bullish stand when it comes to things like regional connectivity and so on. talking about the government, how do you think centre’s latest policies will impact the travel and tourism sector in india? the industry has been seeing an upward trajectory of late. last year, the aviation sector saw a 23% growth and we have touched the ﬁgure of 100 million domestic passengers last year. we have been seeing an above 20% growth consistently over the past couple of years and this year the projection is even higher. let us hope that the government’s policies materialise and this growth becomes exponential as it would be a good thing for all the players involved. being a start-up yourself, you must when the discounting model came to be, economies like china, which drive world economics, faced a very tough time and what that resulted in was that a lot of large chinese companies realised that they needed to hedge somewhere. they could not just hedge inside the chinese economy and the only other economy where they thought they could hedge was the indian economy as it still had a lot of room. ,, great people who have everything it takes. it might take us some time to realise what we are doing but i am sure it is going in the right direction. mergers and acquisitions have now become a trend. do you think this is going to be the norm in the coming years? what is your take as an industry insider? the thing about mergers and acquisitions is that they tend to happen everywhere. it is an inherent part of the game because companies, once they become bigger, have more insight in to the build v/s buy decision. in india, unlike china, there are a lot of regulatory constrictions that restrict single players. there would always be a need for second or third players in the indian market. so, even if a company becomes really big, it would not want to be in a position where it acquires everybody else. do you think that it will at-least bring a certain degree of price rationalisation in the market? will the discounting war that is bleeding the rivals to death subside? it already has. well, it has not really subsided but we are seeing that hotels as a space has mergers are a common sight these days, as once companies become bigger, they have better insight into the build v/s buy decision. have done a fair degree of innovation to reach where you have reached. now, looking back at having spent almost a decade in the indian market, what is your take on how start-ups are fuelling innovation? to be honest, i do not think a lot of that is happening, especially in the indian eco-system. i say that because it may be happening in bits and pieces here and there but overall i think the objectives are not aligned. the objective is not about looking at the indian market, at the indian people, at travel etc. and trying to ﬁnd out the issues and solve them. when you do not do that, you do not innovate. the objectives here are a little bit different because they are more on the lines of how big it is, or how big it can become. the objectives in the indian market tend to look at how quickly can money be raised and you would be surprised to know, how quickly the sector can be exited. this is a mindset thing and i am not blaming anybody, it is just that the eco-system has become like that from both sides i.e. the investors as well as the entrepreneurs. this is a sad situation because this means that those days where people actually slogged for years just to solve a problem and were not just looking for a quick exit are behind us. this takes the core focus away from building something valuable and useful. don’t you think it is a gradual process and maybe 10 years down the line our market would be more mature? well, i truly hope so. there is no dearth for smart people which is made amply clear by the fact that most of the fortune 500 companies have some indian sitting at the top-level. we are a bunch of very smart and become much more stabilised. everybody is now looking to create a more sustainable business model, which is a good thing. also, mergers and acquisitions result in the parent entity getting much bigger. what that means for the supply side of things is that they have a much higher leverage. so, this effectively leads to an increase in commission and a decrease in discounting even though the trafﬁc may remain stagnant. what are some of the important trends in the online space this year? what do you think will be the focus of service providers? how do you think 2017 is going to pan out? the online market for travel is no different from other consumer internet spaces. i think, 2017 is the year of data and artiﬁcial intelligence. anyone who is yet to realise this is too late for them. by now every serious company which knows this trend and has mapped it in the last few years would already have a dedicated team of ai experts and data scientists. one could always catch up but nobody likes to play that game. you always want to be in a position where you are leading the curb. the way ai and data are changing this world is unprecedented. we are about to see some breakthroughs this year which will completely change the landscape. the exponential growth that we are about to witness post this ‘revolution’ is maybe far more than what we saw during the industrial revolution or even in fact the digital revolution. it is also going to bring in some fresh problems as is the case with any process of change. it will still take around twenty more years for strong ai to become a reality but once that transition takes place, we will be facing a plethora of issues which are not part of the society today.
tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht 25 consolidation in the indian market is a growing sign of maturity: md, booking.com as the online market witnesses more number of players vying for marketshare, innovation will standout as the key diferentiator, notes md, apac, booking.com. he believes that mergers and acquisitions are indicators that indian market players are looking at economics of scale. by tf bureau there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture will inluence innovation in the marketplace? the abundant number of startups in the online segment is a clear sign that the online travel market is growing and there is still room for companies to make the most of opportunities in the industry. the more players there are, the more emphasis there is on innovation as the key way to differentiate in a crowded marketplace. we have observed the growing emphasis on providing end-to-end services and many startups focusing on a mobile-ﬁrst strategy as consumer behaviour becomes increasingly tied to on-the-go mobility. at the end of the day however, customers want products that work seamlessly and effortlessly and this is especially true in the online travel segment. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? it sure does make it diicult for them to ind a foothold in a competitive marketplace, is not it? the consolidation of make my trip and ibibo is a sign that the indian online travel market is maturing, which is a good thing for our industry. this signiﬁes that india-born players in the online travel space are looking at economies of scale. while this is the biggest consolidation we’ve seen in the indian online travel space, we think it will reduce cash burns and discounting as the two big players will now offer similar prices, and other startups, especially hotel aggregators can now concentrate on product innovation and improve their unit economics. as far as booking.com is concerned, our focus remains on doing what we have always done - building the largest choice of accommodation options for our indian customers who want to travel domestically and abroad and providing an excellent customer experience. a lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing managing director, apac at booking.com oliver hua the more players there are, the more emphasis there is on innovation as the key way to diferentiate in a crowded marketplace. we have observed the growing emphasis on providing end-to-end services and many startups focusing on a mobile-irst strategy as consumer behaviour becomes increasingly tied to on-the-go mobility. at the end of the day however, customers want products that work seamlessly and efortlessly and this is especially true in the online travel segment. ,, th 5 hotel operations summit india 2017 grand hyatt mumbai register now th4 april, 2017 hosted by notable speakers ashish jakhanwala, managing director and ceo, samhi anuraag bhatnagar, area general manager – india, marriott international camellia panjabi, group director, masala world / mw eat group devendra bharma, executive vice president, oberoi hotels & resorts mumbai jean-michel cassé, sr. vice president operations - india, accorhotels kurt straub, vice president operations, hyatt hotels corporation raj rana, chief executive officer - south asia, carlson rezidor hotel group rajeev menon, chief operating officer - apac (ex. greater china), marriott international rakesh sarna, managing director & ceo, taj hotels resorts & palaces shantha de silva, head - south west asia, intercontinental hotels group shridhar b nair, general manager, the leela goa tristan beau de lomenie, general manager delegate, pullman & novotel delhi aerocity vir sanghvi, co-founder and chief critic, eazydiner co-host patrons or more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.hosiconference.com
26 o n li n e : tr ivag o lack of quality content will take time to be addressed in india, says ceo, trivago trivago, a germany based online aggregator of hotels, has been taking the indian television advertisement space by storm. the man behind this gallant foray, abhinav kumar, ceo, trivago spoke on several issues in a free-wheeling interview with tourismfirst. he believes that quality content in the online space remains crucial for higher conversion – an anomaly which will steadily get addressed with stronger penetration of internet in the indian hinterland. excerpts of his interview: by shashank shekhar trivago is creating quite a storm on the television and you have literally led from the front, becoming the face of the advertisement campaign. what prompted this move? we never use celebrities to endorse trivago. so, you do not need someone very big to tell you about our product because any one can use it. it is a product for a common person. we were struggling to ﬁnd the right person who was not very well known. celebrities have many brand endorsements. the idea was to make it a product for a common man to use, and it was difﬁcult to ﬁnd such a person in berlin. so, we tried other spots. we tried some known actors who have been doing good in other parts of the world. we thought of trying it out. also, we wanted to use hindi. there was no one else who knows my product better than me. it is not just a gut feeling how we do things. whenever we want to do something, we test it. so, we made my advertisement, and went for pre-testing getting some positive results. we followed it up with online testing what is the diference in the economic model between the two paths – the booking platform and the aggregator platform? it is just to have a better converting trafﬁc for me ota partners. we are paid by the number of clicks we send to them. we are working with all the otas. so, all the clicks we send to them, we are paid for that. in terms of consumers, how we deal with the trafﬁc, how we sell trafﬁc to otas, it will be the same pricing model for the otas. it will change nothing to the user in terms of paying more or paying less. what is your sense of 2017? where is the outbound putting up? how is the hotel scene looking like? we see international booking growing but the majority of the trafﬁc is being generated in the mid-segment hotels. if you look at television advertisements and look at the channels we are using, we want to reach out to everyone in india. any one has the potential to book and we want to bring ofﬂine users to the online platform. so, we are targeting everyone. we will not comment without concrete data. we are focusing now more on content and also on the user side, so that they do not have to do a lot of searching. getting more positive results. we then put it up on television. being an industry insider and having seen the industry evolve, how do you see the ota scene now? and, more so, i wanted to understand that you are an aggregator. why have you chosen this path, instead of facilitating bookings from your own platform? that is more for the co-founder to answer, but we are sure of continuing on this. we have no plans of becoming a booking engine. if some otas are scared of us, they should not be. we will never be getting into their path. we will only be doing price comparison and try to give enough information to the user from our item listings to ensure that they can book easily and quickly. we do not really care much about how otas are reacting because we are not into their path. they might think so, but it is not true. we are a bit ahead; in front of the funnel. even the new product – ‘express booking’ that we are testing in europe – whenever we let the user have a better user experience from trivago page and book it there itself, we are still showing the brand’s name in bold (which brand you are booking with). you might not have a good user experience in some other brand pages. so, if you experience a good booking experience through trivago, then you can do it. but still, we will show the brand very well. i ask you this because of a lot of global political upheavals is happening in the political spectrum. you have trump talking about america-first; brexit has recently occurred and its full consequences on travel and tourism is yet to be ascertained; france is titling right. so, do you think that in the coming year, we may witness a profound change in the set trends for outbound, and indians taking to some newer destinations? at least in india, it is already visible that there are more individual travellers now. there are backpackers and young travellers who want to travel alone. they do not want to do the traditional group tours. we can see that they are choosing many different destinations which were not part of the itinerary before for the indian market when indian group tours traditionally did switzerland and paris. people are searching for everything in india. so, they are searching for different international destinations. there is nothing speciﬁc right now, but we do see a rise in the international outbound. what is the next step for your company? where is trivago heading now? what is the next big step that you will be taking? we need to work harder. the online hotel booking product still has to do many things. it is still not very much streamlined. there are issues with hotel bookings are we are facing it. abhinav kumar ceo, trivago what kind of issues? could you elaborate on it a little bit? it is primarily in terms of images and content. what people see and book, and what they get. do you see a disparity in this? do you see players not going by the book? it is not about going by the book. we need to understand that india is still not covered digitally. so, if the images that are uploaded are high resolution, we just do not have the bandwidth all across to do that. those things are evolving. we have more internet penetration going in india. so, when people understand the value of uploading high quality images, not just uploading number of images as good quality images can do wonders for conversion. we are focusing now more on content and also on the user side, so that they do not have to do a lot of searching. we are also working on something called ‘free search’. you can randomly key in words and search within a country, region, continent and the world. we are working on understanding the user behaviour and data. every time the user comes, he should get a personalised result which has to be from his past history. what he has been booking. these are the things we are working on, so that the user feels more comfortable, and gets a more seamless experience. i think it is a smart move that you have chosen to take the aggregator path as the ota space, especially in india, is crowded and intensely competitive. is not it? right form our conception, we have been least bothered about what others are doing. we have been very focussed on how our at least in india, it is already visible that there are more individual travellers now. there are backpackers and young travellers who want to travel alone. they do not want to do the traditional group tours. we can see that they are choosing many diferent destinations which were not part of the itinerary before for the indian market when indian group tours traditionally did switzerland and paris. people are searching for everything in india. ,, product is working. so, there is a lot of user testing. it is not that we have one website and we are sitting after that. even the developer team has been expanded. so, we just wanted to dig deeper and do more user testing, and bring a product that will lend a better experience to our users. we are performing well in the indian market. we chose to go without an agency in india, so we did all our media buying directly from our ofﬁce in germany. it also helps to understand and develop a better relation with the media channels, and how and where we can place our advertisements. we also have a team for brand marketing. therefore, we are not very bothered about other players. s n i ppets yatra forges alliance with mp government to promote homestays in the region online travel company yatra.com recently announced the formation of a strategic alliance with the madhya pradesh government to promote homestays in the region and enhance the tourism experience. yatra.com will be promoting all the homestays which have been approved by the state tourism where the entire house or a sharing space with a local family may be booked. the company has also recently signed mous with uttarakhand, andhra pradesh and gujarat governments and is in talks to sign similar mous with the odisha and chhattisgarh governments. yatra.com will be listing over 90 such homestay properties in madhya pradesh on its website and will also be actively promoting the same by offering homely experiences.
tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht 27 disproportionate number of players in the market unhealthy, forces consolidation rajesh magow believes that merger and acquisitions are an outcome of disproportionate number of entities in a crowded marketspace, forcing companies to come together. by tf bureau there have been abundant start-ups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the start-up culture is, and will, inluence innovation in the marketplace? the start-up ecosystem has evolved a lot over the last 10 years. today, there are lot many young entrepreneurs who are willing to take risk rather than following a conventional corporate career path. angel, seed and vc capital ecosystem is also a lot better than what it was few years ago. for example, at present there are about 30+ travel and holiday-related start-ups in india focusing on niche areas, trying to innovate new ways of wooing travellers. few key reasons for growing number of internet sector startups are, cheap internet access device, better quality bandwidth, cheap data plans, much improved digital backbone and innovated digital payment options. growing startup ecosystem is certainly inﬂuencing lot more product and tech innovation to suit indian market conditions. besides replicating solutions of some of the problems that have already been solved in different countries, startups in india are also solving unique problems of indian market with new innovations. however, to sustain this growing startup ecosystem, we need lot more success stories in times to come! what could be the consequential impact of growing numbers of mergers and acquisitions on start-ups? it sure does make it diicult for them to ind a foothold in a competitive marketplace, is not it? overall travel market is huge and still hugely under penetrated online in many travel segments. it is also growing at a double-digit growth rate year on year! besides, there are many niche travel segments opportuni- ties that startups could focus and develop new solutions. if we look at all segments together, do not think online travel market has reached that level of maturity yet! a number of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. this is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? i do not think we should generalize this, each move needs to be analyzed separately. i believe it is a stage of lifecycle for organization as well as any particular sector. consolidation at the right time and stage of lifecycle is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it does not result into a near monopoly situation. having disproportionate number of players not commensurate to the size of the market is unhealthy for the sector which forces the consolidation. what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? ai and machine learning is the new buzz word and we should watch this space as this india and china have totally embraced mobile. i do not know of any company which is talking about desktop anymore and for a while now! reliance jio is further taking the penetration to deep india. so, mobile irst is a done deal now as consumers’ preferred device to access internet. i however have stated to get concerned about over crowded app ecosystem. it reminds me of the dot com era when people equated just building website with building a business without thinking through their business model. ,, rajesh magow co-founder and ceo – india, makemytrip should bring a totally new era of automation! we should also watch out for customers’ fatigue in the app world, getting badly over crowed now! in the services sector, personalized offerings using data analytics and ai for customer delight is going to be focus area for many. do you reckon that the apac, especially indian and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? india and china have totally embraced mobile. i do not know any company which is talking about desktop anymore and for a while now! reliance jio is further taking the penetration to deep india. so, mobile ﬁrst is a done deal now as consumers’ preferred de- vice to access internet. i however have stated to get concerned about over crowded app ecosystem. it reminds me of the dot com era when people equated just building website with building a business without thinking through their business model. relentless pursuit of good quality has helped uber survive in local markets world over uber india has been betting quite heavily on its concept of ‘uber for business’, in india. launched in india in december 2015, the platform is meant to let companies tie up with uber to use the cab company’s services for its employees and in doing so, manage their own transportation expenditures more transparently and eiciently. in conversation with siew hoon yeoh, founder, wit and editorial director, web in travel, arjun nohwar, head, uber for business, apac, uber technologies inc. gave some insights in to the company’s plans for the upcoming year and their plans of expansion in the region. excerpts: by anagat choudhary 2 years from now, if we happen to be sitting on this stage again, what would you say are your 3 key markets for u4b? the top 3 markets are determined by volume and scale of adoption. you have markets like australia and indonesia which are relatively smaller than india but the scale of adoption is much better. the value that they create is higher but then you have got india and there is just so much scope here that it is deﬁnitely going to be there at the top. india is going to be the big one for us. the theme of this conference is ‘the asian advantage’. uber being a non- asian company, how do you compete against the local players like ola in india? there are very strong competitors in the local market. they are highly innovative and equally aggressive. we have to be conscious and cognisant about the fact that they have their own advantages. so, we need to look back internally and ﬁgure out what we can offer to counter these advantages. we do not compete in the market to beat our competition but to become the preferred channel. we want to be the ﬁrst choice for the customers. another thing that has helped us survive in local markets all over the world is our relentless pursuit of good quality. we have a good quality of driver partners as well as a good quality of riders. this is one area we have focussed on a lot. another aspect that we focus on is technology. the stuff that we are doing on safety is pretty amazing. we have innovated several things like the ‘sos button’ in india. we have a project where the drivers will have to take a selﬁe before they can start a trip. this will help customers in identifying if they are with the correct driver partner. we are using telematics, where we have the ability to map the driver’s driving behaviour and patterns. there is been a lot of pr issues for uber in the last couple of months and you guys have been getting a lot of bad press. do you see that impacting your business in the apac region? for a company that is growing so rapidly and the level of growth that we have already achieved, of course there will be instances where we may fall down and scrape our knees but the aim is to be honest about the fact that we have room for improvement. uber has the conviction and the maturity in the management to realise that everything is not perfect. once you have that realisation it can be a surprisingly quick journey. all the scandals that have recently surfaced, you will realise that action has been taken on each and every one of them which includes travis’ public apology on the website. each and every incident has been acknowledged and we have tried our best to deal with the issues and continuously improve. makemytrip is planning to venture in to the ride sharing model. any advice that you would want to share with them? if mmt is venturing in to the b2b model, my advice to them would be that they uber has the conviction and the maturity in the management to realise that everything is not perfect. once you have that realisation it can be a surprisingly quick journey. all the scandals that have recently surfaced, you will realise that action has been taken on each and every one of them which includes travis’ public apology on the website. each incident has been acknowledged and we have tried our best to deal with the issues and continuously improve. ,, arjun nohwar head, uber have to be conscious about the fact that the enterprise customer has very different requirements. just because you have managed to succeed in the retail space does not mean that you can take the same proposition in the b2b model as well. the enterprise customer will require much more sophisticated support and you need to spend a lot of time hearing what they have to say. if you are not encompassing all the basic essential factors in your model, you will not become a successful ride sharing platform because majority of the travel is for business. companies need to really perfect their model of what works for businesses and getting them to integrate a lot of travel partners.
28 tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht smartphones a new reality; industry must evolve to changing consumer behaviour taking stock of key trends, evolving consumer preference and the larger online industry, simon akeroyd speaks to tourismfirst. by anagat choudhary there have been abundant startups in the online segment, especially in the last few years. how do you think the startup culture is, and will, inluence innovation in the marketplace? startups tend to focus on one very speciﬁc problem and make it their full focus to come up with a great solution. this means in- novation can happen a lot quicker and they usually work on ideas or innovations that larger companies do not have the time or resources to dedicate to, or it is low on their list of priorities. the startups we are seeing in the online segment are bringing new technologies or ideas to the table, they are not trying to be the next online travel agent and that’s a very wise move. instead they are focusing on mean less opportunities for startups. in fact, it could mean quite the opposite. whilst there are dominant players who are doing a great job in the b2c space and focusing on engaging directly with travellers, i think we will see more and more b2b2c companies coming into play. my advice to startups would be to look at how their solution or business model could actually support the big players with what they are already doing and how their offer can help a large online player, for example. in the case of makemytrip speciﬁcally, they have always been very keen to work with startups and in fact they are a keen supporter of our apac startup community, amadeus next. a number of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies, raising concern over the growing cartelisation nowadays people tend to do things on-the- move and ‘unattached’ whatever the device, whether that is via a laptop, or a smartphone. things like machine learning, offering greater personalisation or ways to improve online conversion. in order for these innovations to truly inﬂuence the online marketplace, the industry also needs to be open to working with these players and recognising, just like amadeus has done, that we cannot do it all ourselves and innovation can come through external collaborations and partnerships. given the rise in mergers and acquisitions, the recent being ibibo and mmt, what could be its consequential impact on startups? it sure does make it diicult for them to ind a foothold in a competitive marketplace, is not it? industry consolidation does not have to of business in the online space. what is your take on this? do you see this as a threat to business and industry? acquisitions are an extension of the industry consolidation we are already seeing and i think it is a trend that will continue to grow. it all comes back to the traveller and offering them what they want, at the right time, and through the right channel. ultimately the traveller is the one who is placing demands on the industry and their demands can shift very quickly. there is such ﬁerce competition in the online space that if there was any sign of cartelisation then i think traveller demands would shift very quickly and prevent it from becoming a serious threat. in the case of startups, it could represent a big opportunity whilst there are dominant players who are doing a great job in the b2c space and focusing on engaging directly with travellers, i think we will see more and more b2b2c companies coming into play. my advice to startups would be to look at how their solution or business model could actually support the big players with what they are already doing and how their ofer can help a large online player, for example.,, simon akeroyd vice president, corporate strategy & business development, amadeus asia pacific as it may mean they get acquired by a larger organisation which is often what they are looking for. what are some key trends in 2017? what are some areas to watch out for? what would be the area of thrust for service providers? cyber security is deﬁnitely one to watch in 2017. as more data gets digitised and the internet of things continues to grow, there is more infor- mation which is vulnerable and cyber security is becoming a bigger threat in our industry. the 5 technology trends we are keeping a close eye on are: virtual/augmented reality, peer to peer, smart cities, messaging & chat bots and the internet of things. do you reckon that the apac, especially india and china, is heading towards a predominant mobile era – where service providers will spearhead innovations keeping in mind the mobile platform? will we see more companies embracing the idea of mobile-irst? i would say we are not heading there, we are already there, and the developed world is deﬁnitely mobile-ﬁrst. in fact, the concept has broadened and everything should now be considered ‘mobile’. it is not just about smartphones, it is about the shift in consumer behaviour. nowadays people tend to do things on-the-move and ‘unattached’ whatever the device, whether that is via a laptop, tablet or a smartphone. it is rare that people go to a ﬁxed desk pc in their homes to do an online transaction, and it is the same for travel. the travel industry as a whole needs to embrace this new reality to ensure they evolve, expand or expire. localization and language are critical in the most downloaded travel apps in 2016 kyle martinowich, sales director at smartling shared the increasing demand for localization of content and the challenges associated in delivering this in an eicient, timely and cost efective manner. w hat do the most downloaded travel applications have in common? in one word – lo- calisation. these apps provide a very hyper localized environment for their customers to navigate the application. a market research ﬁrm shared at the end of 2016 that 75% of buyers strongly agree that when faced with the choice of two similar products they are more likely to purchase the product that is in the language that they most associate with. in general, especially here in india while a market research irm shared at the end of 2016 that 75% of buyers strongly agree that when faced with the choice of two similar products they are more likely to purchase the product that is in the language that they most associate with. they would prefer apps in their local language as it makes for a better customer journey.,, kyle martinowich sales director - smartling many speak in english that is not enough to drive users to download and engage. they would prefer apps in their local language as it makes for a better customer journey. two of the most downloaded travel ap- plications in 2016, between google play and itunes, were uber and airbnb. uber is in 493 cities and 70 countries and their application is in 46 languages. this is extremely impor- tant for uber from two perspectives. firstly, they need the consumers who are travelling in any of these 493 cities to associate with the language and they also need the drivers to have ease of access. these drivers want to see app notiﬁcations and updates in their most native language. this year ola cabs had a 300% user uptake from the fact that they went into 8 native languages in india. it also drove driver satisfaction up by 3000% and the app is now hyper local. that has also driven up their revenue helping them make inroads against uber in india. the second application is airbnb. in 2016, they moved from 13 languages to 27 languages, and operate in 190 countries and 34,000 cities. the most important part that they surveyed of their audience, mostly 18-25 year olds, is that they want things to be highly localized to them. what makes this hard? mobile applications are difﬁcult – you have the developers and the people who are writing content and this is inconsistent with each other. the synergy be- tween the two groups is probably what slows down application growth for localisation. most likely you have developers who are not looking for the localization team to perform at the same development schedule as they are. the developers are the ones who lead the conversation and not the localization team. companies must understand if this is their way forward? depends on what is creating the downloads and creating the revenue. by 2025 the annual consumption of emerging markets will be 30 trillion dollars. how to take a piece of this? just because you create a mobile app in a local language is not enough. we have to be able to support the app with customer support, transactional emails, marketing material and more. it is not just simply translating your app. you need to support all the functions in the business that entertain that language. one of the biggest compounding factors is that today people want more updates, more content that is newer and fresher. if you don’t provide this, they will move and ﬁnd the next best thing. the app that have the highest frequency of content updates are the ones that see the biggest in-app use. we also have more languages and less time to provide these frequent updates in multiple languages and provide localised content. there is the element of translation quality and speed. lastly, there are also constraints on budgets. companies like smartling are help- ing reduce the overall cost per word and make the localisation process better, more efﬁcient, faster and cheaper. by using tech- nology your cost should come down on an annual basis.
tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht 29 innovation in mobile capabilities that work on all devices being led by asia arthur chapin, head of product and design, expedia inc. was at phocuswright 2017 to talk about how expedia executes technology, which they build and test themselves, on a global scale. speaking to maggie rauch, senior research analyst, phocuswright inc, he gave detailed insights on what goes into product building at expedia as well as the importance of the role of the mobile platform in the apac region. excerpts: by anagat choudhary you guys have a really interesting process for constant evolution, solving customer problems and design prioritising. how does this work on a global scale across 33 countries? we try and always make decisions based on data. what that means is that we focus a lot of our local approach as well as our regional approach on the things that we think are most different. for example, things like payment methods and merchandising capabilities can seem very different geographically. then, we also look at future aspects, especially in markets like asia. things like the different uses of the mobile platform. a much more proliﬁc use of messaging and true platforms. the domestic apps here truly have become sort of eco the ecosystems versus standardised messaging platforms. so, we put a lot of our effort now in to trying to understand that and build to those things versus assuming that everything has to be different for each region. so, does that efect the growth of the mobile platform in this region and what is the apac region’s role in designing your product? is it taking a more prominent position? absolutely! there is a couple of big things that i see and i have spent the last two weeks touring a bunch of countries and i am based in seattle, washington and the things that we are seeing is that the innovation in mobile capabilities that work on all devices is really being led from of asia. so, because of that we put a lot of time and a lot of the research team’s efforts in to asia. we also have a number of different developments and development and product ofﬁces across asia that are helping us to really understand the local technologies etc. so, when you get back to washington, what is going to be in the de-brief from this trip? what are some of the biggest takeaways that you got? one of the biggest takeaways for me is that i got to see in-depth the power of a lot of the messaging platforms. the reason i say that is that i had ﬁrst had many of them installed on my own phone but when you have no friends, these apps do not seem so powerful. but having some of these teams engage with the users got both me and my team a much better understanding of, well frankly speaking of how different they are and how many people think of messaging platforms in north america. another takeaway would be the importance of creating experiences for everyone. a lot of us present here have our i-phones and samsungs etc. but those are not the devices which a lot of our customers use and so if everything we do is designed for high end phones, we end up missing a huge segment. this was a really good reminder for me that we will be carrying forward. arthur chapin head of product and design, expedia inc. there is a couple of big things that i see and i have spent the last two weeks touring a bunch of countries and i am based in seattle, washington and the things that we are seeing is that the innovation in mobile capabilities that work on all devices is really being led from of asia. so, because of that we put a lot of time and a lot of the research team’s eforts in to asia. ,, your ceo has been pushing activity booking company wise with a renewed priority. how are you solving some of the challenges or what are some of the unexpected challenges that you think you may encounter? there are two things that we are doing there. the ﬁrst is that we continue to invest in what we refer to as local experts for our activities platform. the second is in terms of just continu- ously trying to make the product better while parallelly increasing supply. we believe that the reason people travel is not to sit inside hotels or travel on planes etc. people travel for an outcome which in this case is the experience. i do not think that we as a industry have done a great job in helping people explore, shop and discover based on the outcome that they are looking for. based on the outcome our clients are looking for we are very sort of product focussed. and here, i am talking about the product that they themselves are looking to buy. that’s going to take great content and con- tent that is very local as well. we have recently made a number of investments, we recently acquired a company called trover where we continue to look at how we can get truly good local content because that will help us get recommendations as well as help us achieve the outcomes that we are looking for. apac region remains robust; china leads the mobile revolution, says chetan kapoor chetan kapoor of phocuswright spoke on the developments in the global political landscape, impacting travel and tourism industry at large. he showed conidence in the apac region – which has yet maintained its robust character, unfazed by global upheavals. excerpts of his presentation: a gloomy global scenario raises many questions the year 2016, nasa announced it as the warmest year on the earth’s surface since modern record keeping began in 1880. while the barometer was rising high, tensions also rose in several parts of the world. the syrian refugee crisis, brexit, multiple terrorist attacks across europe etc. these are all events which impacted our industry. and while we thought that the worst was behind us, 2017 was not off to the best of starts. decisions were made, which would probably have an impact on both business and leisure travel. scenario? while not totally isolated from global events, apac still is on a relatively sound footing. to begin with, apac is still the biggest market globally in terms of cross bookings. far ahead of europe and slightly ahead of the us. its online travel market, while still young, continues to grow at twice the rate compared to its peer in europe. a lot of people in the industry tend to relate gdp growth to the potential of the travel market. it is by all means a correct indicator but it is no way the only one. for example, while china and india may be at opposite ends of the gdp spectrum, the ground reality when it comes to the travel china is the world’s ﬁrst mobile majority online travel market with over 50% of its online bookings being done via mobiles. chetan kapoor research analyst, phocuswright we have been doing consumer surveys in apac for a better part of the past one and a half years and while domestic travel still holds strong in most of the markets we are seeing that, increasingly travelers are going behind borders in markets such as australia, malaysia and china. almost one in two travelers went overseas for their last pleasure trip and the igure is only slightly less in other parts of the region.,,,, and while the western travel market go through a lot of roller coasters and face a lot of uncertainty, we decided to do a quick poll among european travelers to ﬁgure out their intent to travel to the us in light of recent events, and surprisingly the results were not so good. anywhere between a ﬁfth to a third of european travelers are now indicating that they are less likely to travel to the us. apac remains robust amidst global uncertainties so, where does that put apac in the entire market potential is completely different. already, china is the second largest travel market in the world, only behind the us whereas india recently took over australia and new zealand as the 3rd largest travel market in apac. in these fast growing economies, with disposable incomes on the rise, travel is also coming up the orders in terms of discretionary spend. we have been doing consumer surveys in apac for a better part of the past one and a half years and while domestic travel still holds strong in most of the markets we are seeing that, increasingly travelers are going behind borders in markets such as australia, malaysia and china. almost one in two travelers went overseas for their last pleasure trip and the ﬁgure is only slightly less in other parts of the region. these ﬁgures somehow even compare to the travel trends in europe and the us. the mobile revolution now, you cannot have a conversation about apac travel market without talking about the mobile travel revolution. apac is truly the world’s most dynamic mobile travel market and china by far is leading the race. china is the world’s ﬁrst mobile majority online travel market with over 50% of its online bookings being done via mobiles. it is primarily the intermediaries who are behind these revolutions. aggregates across apac suggest that 55% of all mobile bookings went through intermediaries. in india, 86% of mobile bookings were powered by otas.
30 tech n o logy i n ph ocuswr i g ht paytm will play a huge role in the indian tourism landscape: abhishek rajan with staggering numbers, over 10 million travel ticket booking in its irst year of operations, it is on the verge of becoming the go- to online destination for travellers planning their trips. having started with bus tickets, the travel marketplace now incorporates air, trains and hotels as well. being the irst e-commerce major to get in to the travel vertical, paytm is now considered by many as the latest disruptor in the market and has become the leading payments gateway in the country. speaking with chetan kapoor of phocuswright, abhishek rajan, head of travel marketplace, paytm said that the company’s core focus still continues to be on digital payments but travel vertical is now at a place where it can hold its own. excerpts we began around the same time last year. at the beginning, bus tickets and hotel bookings were our primary products. flights and trains were nowhere in our agenda. the last 6-7 months have been very exciting for us. when we started, we had less than 10 people in the team. that number now stands at around 150 and we are further looking to advance these numbers in the next quarter. ,, abhishek rajan head of travel marketplace, paytm by tf bureau how has the journey been so far? what is your vision for 2017? let me begin by saying that we primarily continue to remain a digital payments company. that is how the journey began and even the name itself mean ‘pay through mobile’. we are largely a payments company and mobile commerce was the real intent behind us getting in to the business. that is what we are carrying through and making big leaps with. the point is to integrate the paytm model across as many verticals and criterion as possible, including travel. since you guys began around a year ago, how big is the travel team at paytm now? we began around the same time last year. at the beginning, bus tickets and hotel bookings were our primary products. flights and trains were nowhere in our agenda. the last 6-7 months have been very exciting for us. when we started, we had less than 10 people in the team. that number now stands at around 150 mentioned before, will continue to be our main vertical. travel right now is one of the biggest categories in paytm. currently, our overall contribution to paytm stands at around 10% and in january, we crossed usd 500 million in annualised gmv, just for travel. we are planning to quadruple this growth rate by the end of this ﬁnancial year. the concept of a marketplace is not exactly a new one. some of the bigger intermediaries are visibly missing from your platform. do you think that this travel right now is one of the biggest categories in paytm. currently, our overall contribution to paytm stands at around 10%. and we are further looking to advance these numbers in the next quarter. our strength is our trafﬁc as well our domain expertise. we are fairly conﬁdent that paytm is going to have a huge role to play in the travel domain. where does travel now stand in the entire paytm framework? how sizeable is the business? how does it compare to some of the other verticals like entertainment etc.? travel for us is now as important for us as some of our core verticals. payments, as i in some way impacts the legitimacy of your platform? i do not really think so. if you look at train or ﬂight tickets, there is not too much of a difference in prices that is being offered across the platforms. train tickets in-fact are quite standardised and will cost the same across all platforms. i do not see the lack of intermediaries as that big a challenge because if you look at other things like say hotels where there is some scope to play around with the pricing, we have our own exclusive content. vfs unveils china application centre, plans to drive luxury tourism from india we anticipate strong tourism growth between india and china and this spacious centre will enable us to cater to the rising demand for china visas and simultaneously enhance the visa applicant’s experience. we are also honoured that the very irst ‘china in luxury’ outlet in the world located in this centre, will go a long way in driving luxury tourism to china. ,, the newly inaugurated china visa application centre, in all likelihood, will drive stronger numbers into china. the visa centre will also eye tapping luxury traic as world’s maiden ‘china in luxury’ outlet has also been launched at the centre. by tf bureau as the economic and commercial links between the two nations continue to strengthen, china is emerging as a destination of choice for business and leisure travellers out of india. china’s rich breadth of culture and history, and a great number and variety of world-class tourist attractions, make it a preferred sightseeing destination. what may further aid this foray of the outbound trafﬁc into china, the chinese visa application service center was inaugu- rated recently in the capital. the centre was inaugurated by his excellency luo zhaohui, ambassador of the people’s republic of china to india and zubin karkaria, chief executive ofﬁcer, vfs global group, among others. commenting on the launch, li bijian, minister counsellor, chinese embassy in india, said “with the inauguration of the new ofﬁce in the new year, i hope that the chi- nese visa application service centre could further expand and enhance its services in order to promote people-to-people exchang- es between china and india and make new contributions to the bilateral relations.” to further aid this public relation excercise, china government’s efforts to promote tourism, travellers can also avail of premium packages through ‘china in luxury’, an initiative offering exclusive travel experiences for visitors. commenting on the development, zubin karkaria, chief executive ofﬁcer, vfs global group said “we are pleased to launch this new ‘chinese visa application service center’ that aims to offer greater convenience and ease to applicants. we anticipate strong tourism growth between india and china and this spacious centre will enable us to cater to the rising demand for china visas and simultaneously enhance the visa applicant’s experience. we are also honoured that the very ﬁrst ‘china in luxury’ outlet in the world located in this centre, will go a long way in driving luxury tourism to china.” zubin karkaria chief executive officer, vfs global group
31 b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r s t a k e h o l d e r s o f t h e b i g g e r p i c t u r e we continue to remain the chosen and daily partner at leading industry events phocuswright india attracts over 400 decision-makers and c-level executives, representing the apac region and every travel, tourism and hospitality sector. reach these most innovative thinkers and leaders as they come together to connect, share and move the industry forward. february 28 - march 2, 2017 gurgaon, ncr, india hicsa is widely viewed by global industry leaders as the premier hospitality event for the south asian region. last year, the conference brought together 500 delegates from across 21 countries, with overwhelming participation from hotel owners, investors, operators, bankers and industry specialists sharing their best practices, new ideas and latest market trends. april 5-6 2017 grand hyatt - mumbai about tourismfirst: a b2b thought sharing platform, in print (a monthly tabloid), digital and events formats. we are tourism-centric. we give you comprehensive b2b travel trade publication, and more. our readership is across tourism verticals. we are not just travel agent speciﬁc but go beyond. produced by cross section media, with over 40 years experience in travel and tourism communication. we know the pulse of the industry like no other. contact us today! bring your product centre stage at platforms that bring leading minds and industry decision makers under one roof! w w w.tourismf ir s t .org | saurabh. shukla @bitb.org | 011 - 4378 4 4 4 4
32 outbou n d: n e w yo r k new york remains a top draw but concerns loom over government’s diktat: fred dixon it was an unusual interview, more a free-wheeling chat over various facets of travel and tourism in india and the united states. the discussion ranged from the us government’s plan of putting in place restrictive visa policies, impact of tourism on the economy of new york, and the future of indian outbound. we also talked to him on the chinese outbound and how it was diferent from the indian outbound. we bring you excerpts of the discussion. by tf bureau how has the indian market been for you? we have had 70% growth since 2010 in numbers. last year was 9% growth alone, in terms of marketplace. so, it has been growing at 9-11% a year since 2010. so, it has been very positive. how does that fare with other markets around the world? it is the second highest growth rate next to china. china has had sort of an explosive growth because of the co-operation between the us and chinese government and the approval of visa. we only got approved travel status for china eight years ago. it is called approved destination status. united states did not have that. and what about numbers from china compared to india? china numbers are larger. it is almost three times larger, somewhere around nine hun- dred thousand. china, in some years, was growing at 20% y-o-y. some years even more. it sort of starts and stops in terms of growth, but it has been very steady on an aggressive climb. it slowed a little bit in the last few years but it is still growing between 12-14%. do you see india overtaking china in some point in time? i think it is possible. i think china is on an in the marketplace. indians travels often time for family reasons. so, family is not leisure? no, family is not leisure. so, the way the united states government categorises it is that it is a separate category. that is about 40% of the market. but if you are going purely on holiday, not seeing family and not having business meetings, that is only 15%. how much is the china compo- nent in terms of family? would there be less chinese living new york than indians? that is a good question. i do not know. i think i will have to look that up. china is an unusual market in every way. it really is. before 2007, the only way you could come to the us from china was on a business visa, or to visit family, or to study, and one had to get an approved visa status for the same. it was very restrictive. after 2007, when us got an approved destina- tion status, one could travel for leisure and holidaying but even then, you could only travel in a group. one could take one’s family and go on vacation. that was not allowed. now the market is opening-up and indi- the indian market in terms of total expenditure in the us in 2015 is almost 12 billion dollars – which is just behind brazil. interesting trajectory at this moment because they have just come out of the gate very fast, 0 to 60 very quickly as they say. i think the potential is there, certainly. it is just about building the infrastructure, the product and sort of catching up with the marketplace. interesting that you mentioned that only 15% of indian outbound to new york is leisure and that is at a time when new york is one of the most preferred destination, and continues to be so. so, the opportunity is immense. i think so too. we are very bullish on the in- dian relationship. 15% is only leisure. we know a lot of people, like us, who travel for business and extend, add-on and bring family. and what about purely global incoming in the leisure segment? our global incoming is much higher. that is unique to india that the purely leisure seg- ment is only 15%. and why is so? what would you attrib- ute this do? i do not know. that is pure leisure. people choosing to come on vacation. i think there is so much business travel and family travel vidual travel is allowed. that is the biggest opportunity, allowing for longer stays and higher spend. there is a lot of the younger demographic that comes in now. so, the hotel overnights must have increased by leaps and bounds? indians, notably, have a higher percentage of consumption when it comes to hotel rooms. the indian traveller has a higher percentage of consumption of hotel rooms. there is a lot of interesting stats. as per the latest stats released by the us government, 36% of indian inbound has been for business and 31% for visiting friends and relatives. only 15% of the indian inbound was for leisure and the rest was for meeting, conventions and education etc. the indian market in terms of total expenditure in the us in 2015 is almost 12 billion dollars – which is just behind brazil. it is also above germany, australia and south korea which are by virtue larger travel markets but are be- ing outspent by indians. as a percentage, the indian market tends to spend above its weight in terms of impact. it is a fascinating market. the present us administration is taking stock of bilateral ties with many coun- tries, some of which are key drivers of footfalls into the united states. there fred dixon ceo, nyc & company must be some concern about tourism taking a hit? absolutely. there are concerns all across the board. that is why we as new york city and nyc & company are the ﬁrst organisation to oppose the ban. we spoke out. san francisco has already spoken out against it. but we have been very adamant in our opposition. we are fortunate that the city we come from that the mayor and the governor are, both, in agree- ment. so, we are all voice opposition against the ban. the situation changes every day. it is such a frustrating environment to operate in. do you have a ‘plan b’ to keep your numbers growing? yes, but not what you would do here in india. you want to make sure that you shore up your domestic markets. if there is any impediment to the international inbound, you would strength- en your domestic to try and counterbalance any loss in economic activity and employment. so, we have begun doing a little more messag- ing domestically just as an insurance policy, if something goes wrong. i mean we have not seen any major cancellations, as yet. these are still early days, and this is the slow period of the year. we did see some groups cancel from mexico right after election. in your overall basket, how does domes- tic vs. international stack up? it is interesting. last year, we had around 60 million visitors. of that, there were roughly 48 million domestic visitors, and a little more than 13 million international. while it is only 20% of the total volume, it accounts for half of all the spending, and half of all the room nights. so, it is huge. the direct spending on tourism in the new york city, last year, was 41 billion dol- lars. there are concerns all across the board. that is why we as new york city and nyc & company are the irst organisation to oppose the ban. we spoke out. san francisco has already spoken out against it. but we have been very adamant in our opposition. we are fortunate that the city we come from that the mayor and the governor are, both, in agreement. so, we are all voice opposition against the ban. the situation changes every day. it is such a frustrating environment to operate in.,, s n i ppets thailand launches thai- licious journey campaign at itb berlin 2017 with an eye on ramping up footfalls through exhibiting its culinary prowess, the tourism authority of thailand (tat) recently launched a new tourism marketing campaign with the theme “thai-licious journey” to entice foodies from around the world to explore “thainess” through unique food tours and culinary experiences in the northern, central, eastern and southern provinces of thailand. commenting on the launch, soraya homchuen, director of the tourism authority of said “thailand is known to be a foodie’s paradise as it has a lot to offer for every taste bud. with the new campaign, we are sure that the travelers from india will get to experience the sheer brilliance of thai cuisine. since food is an important part of one’s itinerary, thailand has varied options for food lovers, from local street food to ﬁne-dining eateries, to fun food tours and live cooking, there is something for everyone to indulge in.” the thai-licious campaign comprises three key elements: travel and eat like locals; food that comes with a story; and delightful taste.
outbou n d: ba h r a i n 33 investment in tourism has given bahrain a distinct identity in the gulf region one of the few countries in the gulf region which is bereft of oil, bahrain has commendably trained its energies in augmenting its tourism and related infrastructure, and has emerged as a inancial and tourism hub in the region. we take stock of how tourism is unfolding in bahrain, beside understanding how the nation is boosting its presence in the indian market – which is already its second largest source of footfalls after the neighbouring saudi arabia. excerpts of the interview with sunil mathapati, india representative, bahrain tourism and exhibitions authority (btea) by shashank shekhar bahrain is an ancient civilization with a rich heritage of over 5000 years, and once a centre of the pearl trade. how big is the history and culture quotient in attracting tourism and footfalls in to the country? is this segment part of your outreach in india? bahrain is very rich in culture, heritage and spirit, providing tourists with several options to experience. examples of this are the two unesco world heritage sites, bahrain fort and the path of pearls. the bahrain fort is an ancient harbour and the site of the dilmun capital. the path of pearls is the most important and most complete remaining example of the pearling cultural traditions that shaped the economies and identities of the gulf countries. the bahrain national museum allows visitors to discover over 6,000 years of history. we are also home to three forts built over several periods of bahrain’s history. bahrain enjoys a long and diversiﬁed historical and cultural legacy. manama was nominated as capital of arab culture in 2012. capital of arab tourism in 2013. arab century bahrain invested in financial and tourism sectors. it has got a good mix of work culture and party atmosphere – which is very much evident when you visit bahrain. with bahrain 2017 & 2018 strategy is to tap the mice segment as a major source market, it has got all the deliverables which mice incentive are looking for. its rich history, range of hotels, various options for banquets and good local and international cuisine with various shopping options makes it a good incentive destination. our campaign” ours yours” clearly reﬂects what bahrain has to got is yours to enjoy it. what are some usps of bahrain as a destination? what are some of its key pull factors? we understand that retail shopping is big. the foremost usp of bahrain is its people. a liberal country in the gcc, it invites people with a simile right from the immigration. its hospitality is well known in the gcc. where ever you go from sightseeing to restaurants to shopping you are welcomed everywhere. the pulling factor is its rich culture and heritage. the museums tell a lot of stories of the land and its development. bahrain international circuit is a place worth visiting; the pulling factor is its rich culture and heritage. the museums tell a lot of stories of the land and its development. regional centre for world heritage under the auspices of unesco was founded in bahrain. according to the travel & tourism competitiveness report 2013 of the world economic forum bahrain is ranked 3rd among the arab states and 55th globally. yes, india occupies a signiﬁcant position in attracting travellers to explore its rich history. with a lot of traveller wanting to explore newer destination, bahrain history would be unique in terms of explaining how pearl exploration was done. the bahrain international circuit, shopping experience would give a glimpse of the modern world of bahrain which will be a segment to attract visitors. contrary to its neighbours, bahrain is bereft of oil, and created wealth through continuous investments in two segments: inance and tourism. a regional inancial centre and a tourism hub in equal measure. it is a plank that could work very well in india, especially in the incentives segment. your thoughts. bahrain’s economy is very diverse and exceptional in the gcc. the growing beyond oil report mentions how bahrain’s economy has demonstrated that a kingdom has avoided the gulf general economic pitfalls and positioned itself as a vanguard of economic process. it was the fastest growing financial centre in the world as per global financial centre index. bahrain is the 10th freest economy in the world. since the 20th be it individual or family there is activity for everyone to enjoy. shopping is an experience in bahrain. there are about 4 major malls having all major brands to choose from. discounts are noticed everywhere. you are sure to get a good deal for your lovable brand in bahrain. avenues are the biggest mall which will open in the near future and house brands from around the world. the bahrain shopping festival is the right time to come. how critical is tourism to the economy of bahrain? how have investments on the infra front, in the tourism sector, especially, panned out for the country? given its legacy of openness, tourism constitutes an important part of the economy. the government has taken various steps in bringing different individuals, activities with product and services which can cater to tourism demand as a whole. the government has seen the potential of tourism and with the need of the hour allowed meaningful investment in restoring cultural history and tradition. it has made connectivity easy for tourist to reach places of sightseeing. hotels and entertainment which is also important have been given due diligence and ensured that they live up to the standards for make a tourist comfortable. we believe that saudi arabia, courtesy being a neighbouring country, contributes the most in terms of international footfalls. what are some of sunil mathapati india representative, (btea) your key source countries, globally, and where does india stand in that pecking order? saudi arabia for long has been the biggest contributor to the footfall. 60% people coming from the causeway into bahrain for a good weekend. nevertheless, people from other countries are also visiting bahrain. the bahrain tourism & exhibition authority has opened representation ofﬁce united kingdom, france, germany, china, saudi arabia, and india. india stands 2nd in the order after saudi arabia. with the unwto predicating as sizable outbound numbers from india, bahrain would like to get a small percentage of this number. the focus currently would be to target the mice, stopover and wedding segments. with a sizeable indian community and various options of hotels and activities, bahrain can cater to all these segments. the light connectivity between the two nations is considerable. there are numerous lights from delhi and mumbai. however, despite the ease of connectivity and short lying time, indian footfalls, to our understanding, have not been commensurate to either bahrain's tourism potential, or compared to the number of indian outbound coming to some of the neighbouring gulf counties? what is the bottleneck here and how do reckon it can be ironed out? is it because of insuicient outreach and visibility? frankly, bahrain was never considered by the indian traveller as a tourist destination. travellers to europe would take gulf air where bahrain was a hub, but as there was no awareness with the travel agents or the travellers, bahrain was never really suggested to be explored. a lot of work needs to be done in projecting bahrain to the travellers. given its legacy of openness, tourism constitutes an important part of the economy. the government has taken various steps in bringing diferent individuals, activities with product and services which can cater to tourism demand as a whole. the government has seen the potential of tourism and with the need of the hour allowed meaningful investment in restoring cultural history and tradition. ,, a systematic approach has been initiated with a strategy been laid down to pave way for us to reach out to our target segments and have bahrain as next destination to be their bucket list. yes, the big boys of the gcc have done very well to promote themselves but bahrain will not be very much behind. i am sure with our deﬁned approach and visibility campaigns, awareness would be done to ensure bahrain is noticed. s n i ppets â six senses douro valley launches presidential train package creating a bygone era which intends to reconnect and rejuvenate travellers to the natural beauty of the douro valley, six senses is extending its inspired take on amazing experiences to offer a small series of exclusive trips on board the crown jewel of portugal’s railway - the presidential train. having been restored in 2010, the trains gives guests the most original way to enjoy art and culture in porto, along with seasonal menus, holistic wellness and top-quality wines. the curated three-day, all-inclusive experience available in may 2017 includes personal welcome at the airport, dinner at michelin- starred restaurant, followed by an unforgettable presidential train experience. the package also incorporates a spa experience among others.
34 outbou n d: b r a n d usa everything in our toolbox is being deployed in india: brand usa president speaking on the commencement of the india-usa tourism year in 2017, christopher l. thompson, president and ceo, brand usa allayed concerns emanating from the tough posturing of the newly elected government in the usa. in a free-wheeling interview, speaking to tourismfirst, he explained how the ppp model was acting as a booster shot to individual states in their attempt to garner a larger chunk of the lucrative indian outbound pie. excerpts: by shashank shekhar to begin with a tough question, how do you think the policies of the newly formed trump administration will impact tourism in to the united states. perception being a key factor for any destination to maintain its pull as a tourist attraction, how will this afect the perception of the inbound traveller and in turn efect footfall? well, it is true. absolutely. but what everybody needs to know is that nothing has changed as yet. we understand that there is a lot going on, and there is a lot that is being talked about; there is a lot being proposed. as we speak to you today, nothing for anybody has changed. this administration is, obviously, transitioning into power, and there is a lot of conversation and a lot of things going on. eventually, that is all going to calm down. it is going to settle in. it is a new day and a new president, and a new administration. as far as direct effect on us is concerned, there is no direct effect. what is good about india is that it is not going to affect us here. we will deal with it how it comes down. actually, everything that is aspirational about travelling to the united states has not changed one bit, and that will not change. regardless of what happens to visa entries, policies, anything. it is interesting because he, himself, owns a number of hotels. so, if he continues with the same posturing, he may be losing out on his own business. he has been elected as the president. now, what you have to represent in the campaign and what you actually do when you are in the ofﬁce is usually very different. brand usa partners with states and promotes them throughout the world. but do you have cities like new york in your ambit of engagement? yes. we are a destination marketing organisation. so, nyc & company promotes new york city. they have been doing it for decades, and they have been marketing internationally for decades. they have a very active engagement and presence in india; as active as anybody. even that said, they are right here with us and they invest with us not only across markets where they can identify resources they can leverage with us, they go a lot farther than they could have on their own. so, we have 600 partners but our most engaged and most invested sector in what we do cooperatively is our states and cities as destinations. one of the things that we are charged by law is to promote the entirety of the united states – 50 states, all cities in those states, the district of columbia and territories. and, one of the ﬁve foundations of our statement of purpose is how do we add value to what has been there forever. so, we want to make sure that we are not stepping on the toes of new york, because they were my impression and expectation from this market is, as we look towards what we are trying to bring in economic and otherwise diplomatic beneits to the us, india is a critical component to that. if you look at the long-standing relationship that we have had with india outside the travel and tourism industry the two largest democracies of the world, we have had a great relationship with india. ,, in which we welcomed a record no. of 1.13 million indian visitors that collectively spent 12 billion dollars. the number was up 17% and makes india the no. 11 market for us. the spend was up 8% and it was no. 7 spending wise. my impression and expectation from this market is, as we look towards what we are trying to bring in economic and otherwise diplomatic beneﬁts to the us, india is a critical component to that. if you look at the long-standing relationship that we have had with india outside the travel and tourism industry the two largest democracies of the world, we have had a great relationship with india. my personal impression is that it has been nothing but positive and our national travel and tourism ofﬁce suggests from that base year (2015) to 2021, visitation from india is going to go up to around 78% which is second only to china. looking at the outbound travel market in china which is about to approach 150 million, india stands at around 22 million out-bounds. so, the potential and return on our investment as far as what we look to get from india, is as compelling and as strong as anywhere in the world. we will be here in a major way, deployed in every way that we can be actively engaged in. everything in our toolbox is being deployed in this market. the unique thing about the year ahead is that in order for the government to effect policy whether it be visa policy, entry policy or connectivity in the form of the open skies agreement, any of these things will directly impact our ability to bring in as many visitors as we can. the only way that changes is if the governments have a platform to have those conversations. what is unique here is that this is the ﬁrst time ever that our governments have identiﬁed travel and tourism as something that is a major contributor to both our economies. there have been positive changes in regard to bringing both the people and cultures together. now that we have this platform then everything is on the table to be able to effect positive change and that is very signiﬁcant when it comes to the partnership. it is something that we have never really had. the conversations are being initiated this year but it will be a long- standing exercise, going forward. we did the same thing with china around ten or twelve years ago, and so a lot of the things we see coming out of china are the direct result of the fact that our governments have been in conversation and have been working together for that long. we are just starting that sea change in our relationship with india and i am very optimistic about the positive changes. mr. modi has just made plans and he might be visiting the us in may for his oicial visit. so, do you think it will add momentum to what you are already doing? deﬁnitely. any high-level engagement like that certainly have a positive impact on what we are trying to achieve. christopher l. thompson president and ceo, brand usa here before we got here; before even we existed. but how do we do it, because there is only one of us and there has never been a national destination marketing organisation. so, new york is a great example, a high- proﬁle example, is actively engaged in their own way, because they have their own needs. the state of oregon is here. so, todd will tell you that he is in india in a growing way only through our resources, what we have on the ground in commitment to our market presence. as we expand the marketing channels we have actively engaged here with the market, todd has even more limited resources than what fred does (nyc & company) and he is promoting an entire state, and he sees great value in what we are able to bring to the table that make his limited dollars go down much further. i think that is a unique concept. what we are bringing here is creating value for everybody. what is your on take on innovative outreach programs like megafam and its utility in taking the product of the usa to a larger constituency? megafam is a partnership with our airline partners. in this case, we are in active conversation with air india, and it will be left to them to determine which of their trade partners that they want to inﬂuence with in-market, real-time experience. we powered that programme in the uk, 4 years ago with british airways and are now doing it all over the world with any number of airline partners and it is in our view the best way to drive demand. connectivity issue is the ability for people to get there by direct access or connecting ﬂights. this is all dependant on the private sector and their investment in bringing air service. our job is to drive demand and we discovered that this concept is the best way for us to partner with airlines, drive demand through their travel trade and the relationships that the travel trade has with our friends and visitors there in india. so, are you open to more alliances in terms of partnering with the private players as well? we’re open to any airline partner right now, be it air india or any-one else serving this market that wants to actively engage with us. our job is to drive demand and the airline’s success is our success. we want to do whatever we can to help them grab a share of the market. is this restricted to airlines only or are you interested in partnering with travel associations and the like? absolutely! there are various ways we market. one is ‘direct to the consumer’ which involves direct marketing channels like the digital space that are available to us 24/7. that’s our brand message reaching the consumer directly. another channel is through the travel trade. they have long standing relationships and reach outs that we will never have as facilitators of travel. also, we now have media partnerships and tie ups with publications and companies that control conversations and direct access to the consumers. now that you have been here, had an impression, spoken to the media and even been to some events, what is your take on the indian market? what are your realistic expectations from 2017? any igures that you may be looking at? last year we had full ﬁgures from 2015
do more! 21-23 september register now on www.bitb.org