amadeus report evolve, expand or expire in the digital world! - page 28 volume 3. issue 1. may 2017. `50. no.u(ndgpo)-01/2016-2017 date of publication: 14/05/2017 rni no. deleng/2015/62794 posting dt. 12-17/05/2017 postal reg. no. dl(nd)-11/6180/2015-16-17 pm modi brings new push to indo-lanka ties, promising more tourism connect in what has been described as a “quantum leap in bilateral ties” by the pm himself, narendra modi was in sri lanka recently to celebrate the 14th international vesak day, celebrated in india as buddh purnima. the pm used this opportunity to re-invigorate bilateral ties by making a slew of announcements, which are expected to positively impact travel and tourism between the two nations. with an eye on tapping buddhist pilgrimage tourism, pm announced that air india would be operating direct ﬂights between colombo and varanasi from coming august. the move is aimed at creating “ease of travel for brothers and sisters from sri lanka to visit varanasi, the land of kashi vishwanath”. it is to be noted that varanasi and kushinagar are two of the most important buddhist sites in the state. beside ramping up air-connectivity, there were agreements on cooperation in diverse sectors under the sun, ranging from transport, energy, agriculture, education, health, power, culture, water, shelter, sports and human resources. these are expected to create new opportunities for collaboration and movement of people and services. given that sri lanka and india both are key tourism generating markets for each other, among the best examples of successful two- way trafﬁc, such efforts from both countries will boost ties that bring mutual prosperity. prime minister narendra modi with sri lankan president maithripala sirisena visited the sri dalada maligawa temple (the temple of sacred tooth relic), in kandy, sri lanka. pm’s sri lanka visit is expected to re-invigorate bilateral ties and strengthen movement of people between the two countries. new secretary takes over at mot rashmi verma is the new secretary tourism in the government of india. she has a rich background in tourism having earlier served in the ministry as joint secretary. she has also served as secretary tourism in the government of bihar. verma was till recently secretary in the ministry of textiles at the centre. vp ansari evokes pluralistic heritage as india’s tourism asset (page 4) invoking direct connectivity between up and japan reaching out to the world: japanese ambassador to india, he kenji hiramatsu called upon up chief minister and stressed upon the need for increased connectivity between japan and the religious centres in up. it may be recalled that varanasi and kyoto have been declared sister cities when pm modi had visited japan. e d i s n i 9 aviation 10 hotels + resorts 29 outbound jet airways to focus on millennials and sme travellers, ‘guest ﬁrst’ philosophy: belson coutinho belief in the product and offerings key to demand fair room rates, concur leaders at atm 2017, gulf countries council turns to india to boost tourism in the region go golfi ng your guide to top golf courses in austria • dubai • fiji • indonesia • israel • macau • malaysia • mauritius • oman • seychelles • spain deep kalra while the market has given a thumbs up to the biggest merger in the recent past, challenges post- merger remain. (page 25) ajay singh leading a frontal attack on qatar airways for its attempt to start domestic operations, he has criticised the move, asking the government not to overlook national interest. (page 7) binod chaudhary despite challenges, india remains a huge opportunity for the cg corp. he outlines the way forward for his company. (page 14) hisham el demery change in perception of egypt as a destination is playing a critical role in driving increased indian outbound to egypt. (page 30) (page 33-40)
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th is issu e : m ay 20 17 3 a change of guard at mot is a good time for stock taking, for industry and government, both. a change of guard is a milestone event for any organisation and in the central ministry of tourism, at the position of the secretary, could well be that milestone in how we look upon tourism, develop and promote the industry. we all know how india’s potential is immense and keep talking about how it remains untapped and also, that our eight million plus inbound is no credit to our true potential. simply put, as a part of the stock taking exercise, there needs to be an honest acceptance of the fact that we are not getting our due share, that there is something that is not being done right. this is the ﬁrst step in the stock taking milestone event. moving forward, all the stockholders need to realistically sit down and remember that tourism is largely a private sector driven enterprise. the government is a catalyst and a patron which can seed money for things like promotion but the industry will essentially be driven by the private sector. for example, the incredible india campaign has not been around for some time. the campaign, which is a promotion of india, could be one area where we can take off, in the recognition, that it will essentially be a public private partnership. if the government is going to put in the money upfront, the private sector must come in and play their part in offering an india like never before. in essence, the government promotes and the private sector redeems. the promise of the incredible india campaign must be redeemed by the tourists through the diverse indian products, driven by private enterprises. so, how can the private sector provide programs which the government can promote and thereby bring incremental tourists? our year- round occupancy of the hotel infrastructure is around 60%, which means that there is plenty available in the existing infrastructure to move from eight million to sixteen million, to take only one statistics in mind. any talk of inadequate infrastructure is untrue . in the last ﬁfteen years, and even more so in the last three years, there has been a phenomenal rise in infrastructure be it at metro airports, roads etc. and infrastructure policies. there is a need to identify people who really matter and bring them on a table to share where we can create a new line of action. it is very important for the ministry to empower itself to do more as the current structure of the mot is grossly inadequate keeping in mind the demands of the new age era. this empowerment will happen by creating a larger framework as an extension of the mot. there needs to be an extended mot of consultants, partners, visualisers etc. and therein lies the big change that can happen. an extended mot which is empowered digitally, experientially, uniquely etc. there is a need to create a workable on-going council , where the states and the centre work in unison throughout the year on all their programs and no state is left to fend for itself. not any unwieldly collection of dissenting and self-promoting voices! if the resources of the centre as well as the state were to be combined, then we would be talking about a major bank of money and resources. this needs to be a year-round agenda. the time has come where the industry must do more in creating more visible employment opportunities and being able to share and give more. hotels, particularly, must think that their job is beyond merely to run their hotels and start intrinsically thinking of the city and the destination around. all in all, it is high time that the industry stakeholders, be it in the private sector or the government, put in their heads together and take stock of the ground realities and work out ways to ease out the kinks that our holding destination india from achieving its true potential. contents cross currents: world heritage day 4. preserve pluralistic heritage of the nation by educating youth: vp ansari 4. make heritage an educative experience: s k misra 24. industry insiders discuss the evolution in distribution system, means of leveraging it 25. the perception of goibibo as a cutting edge player helped sealing the deal: deep kalra cross currents 5. ‘enable travel’ powered by cox & kings to make travel barrier-free for disables 26. industry heavyweights discuss the ‘smart traveller’ and upcoming challenges aviation 6. europe's top airline groups embrace disruption via digital innovation: capa report 7. qatar airways’ domestic foray faces regulatory hurdles, opposition from fia 8. stakeholders examine regional connectivity scheme at iffaad seminar 9. jet airways to focus on millennials and sme travellers, ‘guest first’ philosophy hotels + resorts @ hicsa 2017 10. belief in the product and offerings key to demand fair room rates, concur leaders 14. top hoteliers, investors scrutinize the state of real estate in the hospitality space 17. hotelivate takes stock of what it takes to get the project right, from the start 18. hoteliers express hope on an upward tick in room rates, mull the way forward technology: amadeus report 28. trends in online travel: evolve, expand or expire, says amadeus report outbound: dubai 29. at atm 2017, gulf countries council turns to india to boost tourism in the region outbound: egypt 30. egypt tourism taps outbound eyeing new markets, diversified inbound: chairman 31. perception change increase 54% indian arrivals in q1 to egypt: ismail amer outbound: romania 32. romania pitches for a share of the outbound; asia top priority, says envoy go golfing 33. top golfing destinations from around the world online: ficci summit 22. leaders examine trends in digital space at ficci summit on digital travel in india the last page 42. monsoon magic to come alive at tijara fort & palace narendra modi prime minister of india, while ﬂagging off udan scheme earlier aviation was considered to be the domain of a select few. that has changed now. the lives of the middle class are being transformed and their aspirations are increasing. given the right chance they can do wonders. ,, nitish kumar bihar cm addressing kerala catholic bishops' conferences temperance movement those who attended the event in kerala were immensely impressed when i told them in details about the implementation of the liquor ban in bihar, which has transformed the social environment and resulted in economic gains. ,, jayant sinha mos, ministry of civil aviation on expanding aviation infrastructure in the country we have to triple our airport capacity and by some estimates that would require, leaving aside the land, somewhere between `2.5 to 3 lakh crore. ,, nilesh cabral goa tourism development corporation chairman on gtdc launching hop-on-hop- off bus tour service the service would offer tourists a unique experience of enjoying the natural architectural hotspots of goa from open- roof buses, which would ply around a circuit with 19 halts. ,, mathew stoekler ceo, fiji tourism on growth from the indian market in 2016, we saw a ﬁve per cent growth in visitor arrivals. and this was despite challenges like cyclone winston. so we are looking at 2017 with a positive outlook. fiji is not just about family holidays but also high end luxury products.,, editor: navin berry [email protected] senior writer: shashank shekhar [email protected] features editor: priyaanka berry [email protected] business development: saurabh shukla [email protected] 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 44
4 cross cu rre nts: world h e ritag e day preserve pluralistic heritage of the nation by educating youth: vice president ansari vp hamid ansari spoke on the pluralistic heritage of the nation, calling for educating the youth of the nation for preserving it for posterity. he was addressing an event to mark the celebration of world heritage day, organised by the itrhd. “culture is more than just song and dance or architecture. it is the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. cultures cannot be separated from the societies in which they emerge, develop and, at times, decline and are subsumed by other cultures or fade away altogether. cultural boundaries are diffuse but the term “tradition” or “culture” can easily lend itself to idea of a single society and its temporal, linear extant. tradition, and culture, linked as they are to the idea of identity can also be construed to denote exclusivity, which can be troublesome. every culture evolves certain unique features of its own which, in their entirety and inter-relatedness, constitute its dominant conﬁguration and differentiate it from other cultures. indian culture is distinguished from others in respect of its continuity and heterogeneity, its accommodating ethos and its composite, plural character. the development of our multi-coloured cultural tapestry was succinctly summed up by the poet raghupati rai firaq: sar zamin-e- hind par aqwam-e-alam ke firaq karwaan aate gaye hindostan banta gaya. almost a century ago, dr. tara chand had observed that; “indian culture is synthetic in character. it comprehends ideas of different orders. it embraces in its orbit beliefs, customs, rites, institutions, arts, religions and philosophies belonging to strata of society in different stages of development. it eternally seeks to ﬁnd a unity for the heterogeneous elements which make up its totality. at worst its attempts end in mechanical juxtaposition, at best they succeed in evolving an organic system.” few people celebrate diversity and plurality the way india does. all the religions in the world are equally revered here, and linguistic and cultural diversity of our country is unparalleled. despite this diversity, people in india have lived in harmony for centuries and will continue to do so. as the great litterateur rabindranath tagore said, “in spite of our great difﬁculty, however, india has done something. she has tried to make an adjustment of races, to acknowledge the real differences between them where these exist, and yet seek for some basis of unity.” the unity of india is often assumed and taken for granted; it is seldom subjected to a critical examination in a diachronic frame- work. this is perhaps because the sense of unity which pervades the fabric of indian so- ciety is intangible. yet it is alive inside every indian and follows from the day to day living in a composite and divergent milieu. our society has, for centuries, provided a unique social and intellectual environment in which many distinct cultural streams have not only co-existed peacefully but have also enriched each other. the indian approach to cultural change has been one of seamless accommodation. the diversity of indian cultural landscape is a result of not just toleration of newer and different elements, but of its acceptance. this is to be witnessed in all aspects of our daily life. there may be reason to believe, therefore, that the current tide of globalization would not submerge the indian cultural identity but would add an indian dimension to a globalizing culture. our right to enjoy the cultural artifacts, and to participate in the cultural life of the com- munity, is reﬂected in un’s 1948 universal declaration of human rights. this prohibits illicit trafﬁcking of artefacts and cultural objects; pillaging of archaeological sites; and destruction of historical buildings and monu- ments since it cause irreparable damage to the cultural heritage of a community. these principles have been ampliﬁed in unesco’s various international conventions on the protection of cultural heritage. in our constitu- tion, article 49 provides the directive to the state to protect monuments and objects of ar- tistic and historic interest from spoliation and destruction. in addition, article 51 a (f) makes it a duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. laws and regulations can provide the framework for our action, but educating our youth about the value of our pluralistic heritage is perhaps the best way to ensure that our heritage is preserved. i commend the indian trust for rural heritage and development for their initiative in preserving our cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, in the rural areas, including by educating youth and generating awareness about the issue. i wish them success in their future endeavors and wish you all a very happy world heritage day.” make heritage an educative experience: s k misra “heritage has come to be recognised world wide as an instrument for developing national pride. older civilisations of course have left their mark in history -even newer countries like usa boast of their traditions and endeavour to ensure that they are preserved. we in india have an amazingly rich past left to us to enjoy but we cannot just take this legacy for granted .it is the responsibility of each generation to carefully nurture, protect and preserve what we have inherited so that those that come after us are able to avail of the pleasurable and educative experiences. it would be unfortunate if a feeling develops we in india have an amazingly rich past left to us to enjoy but we cannot just take this legacy for granted .it is the responsibility of each generation to carefully nurture, protect and preserve what we have inherited so that those that come after us are able to avail of the pleasurable and educative experiences. it would be unfortunate if a feeling develops that govt alone is the custodian of our unique treasures. ,, s k misra chairman, itrhd that govt. alone is the custodian of our unique treasures. ngo’s and other such organisations can play a big role in creating awareness particularly among the youth as an ngo of 6 years standing and working in rural areas in 6 states itrhdv, apart from conserving architectural heritage such as 62 17th-18th century terracotta temples in just one village in jharkhand or a historic 700 year old dargah in haryana. and taking up,the cause of languishing crafts and music traditions we are trying to involve youth in spearheading an awareness campaign in rural areas through the setting up of youth clubs .the results have been remarkable. hopefully dirty with ﬁlth and squalor with no proper planning regarding shopping centres, accommodation facilities, parking arrangements and related infrastructure development. in the more advanced countries and even in some lesser ones management plans are in place keeping in mind visitor convenience and comfort to ensure greater appreciation of the site visited. the ministry of cultural affairs primarily responsible for the maintenance of these sites should in coordination with state govt. and local bodies draw up comprehensive management plans for each site. the contribution of shri jagmohan as minister of culture in this in the more advanced countries plans are kept in place keeping in mind visitor convenience and comfort to ensure greater appreciation of the site. over a period of time with sustained effort we would like it to develop into a mass movement. cultural heritage is the magnet that draws tourists to this country. we have 35 world heritage sites of which 27 are classiﬁed as cultural, 7 as natural and 1 as mixed. it is, however sad that the experience one gains in visiting a world famous monument like the taj mahal is not wholesome. although host to millions of visitors the ﬁrst impression is rather disturbing – the approach is deplorable, direction needs to be acknowledged. what he did for ajanta and ellora is a shining example of what can be achieved if the will is there. it may be mentioned that a management plan for hampi was only taken up and entrusted to prof nalini thakur when unesco threatened to withdraw the world heritage status. we hope that on the occasion of the world heritage day serious note would be taken of the problems being faced. that would be one of the ways to give tourism a boost and our heritage sites a new look.”
cross cu rre nts 5 ‘enable travel’ powered by cox & kings to make travel barrier-free for disables india gets its first accessible holiday specialist as cox & kings seeks to tap a yet untouched segment of people with disabilities. the initiative has opened up possibilities for over 200 million indians who suffer from some form of disability, hindering their wanderlust. enable travel was recently launched in the capital. excerpts. by shashank shekhar in a laudable move, likely to tap a long- ignored segment of populace, which is expected to make tourism more inclusive and accessible, enable travel - india’s ﬁrst accessible holiday initiative was launched recently in the capital. aimed at catering to the travel aspirations of people with disabilities, this initiative comes as a ﬁrst of its kind opportunity for over 200 million indians, suffering from some or the other disability. a ground-breaking initiative in the area of accessible tourism, enable travel aims to provide tours and carefully crafted leisure outings for individuals on wheelchairs, and those impaired by hearing, speech and vision impairment. the initiative was unveiled by debolin we believe that people with disabilities have absolute right to live a life of equal opportunities, choice and freedom. ,, karan singh head, relationships, cox & kings enabling barrier-free travel for people with disabilities will contribute to a significant increase in inbound and domestic tourism. sen, head, enable travel; karan anand, head, relationships, cox & kings, along with enable travel’s panel of experts. these included rustom irani (wheelchair), divyanshu ganatra (vision), shama noorani (wheelchair), group captain (retd.) prabal malaker (wheelchair), and alim chandani (hearing), thus emphasizing its standing as a product “made by the disabled for the disabled”. speaking at the launch, debolin sen, head, enable travel said, “enable travel is a long-term commitment to make travel easy and hassle free in india and to empower each and every individual to celebrate their love for travel. through this initiative, we are trying to address various barriers like inaccessible travel information, lack of transportation and disable friendly hotel rooms that prevent people from travelling, “she said. adding that each of the itineraries catering to inbound and domestic tourists had been thoughtfully curated, ensuring the long-held dream of a seamless travel experience isn’t hampered, she said “part of its service offering, enable travel will introduce quality transportation in the form of wheelchair accessible vehicles, aids and accessories like ramps and an assortment of specialised wheelchairs for those who are wheelchair bound.” she also mentioned that support services also include investments in specially trained manpower such as caregivers, sign language interpreters, expert guides and escorts making all areas of travel accessible. karan anand, head, relationships, cox & kings, that is powering this initiative said, “we believe that people with disabilities have absolute right to live a life of equal opportunities, choice and freedom. they have the same desire to travel but the lack of an accessible environment reduces their ability or desire to travel outside. many tourists with disabilities within and outside india are keen on exploring different travel experiences the country has to offer.” he further added, “it is important to tap this largely underserved segment of travellers by providing quality assistance and services that focus on individual needs. enabling barrier-free travel for people with disabilities will contribute to a signiﬁcant increase in inbound and domestic tourism.” noting that in a country where everyday commute is still a struggle, he said “making tourism accessible to people with disabilities has been challenging. enable travel endeavours to make tourism accessible to all and encourages people to turn their travel dreams into reality.” booster shot to delhi’s tourism profile as madame tussauds museum unveils kapil dev’s statue the 23rd branch of the famous wax museum which is in delhi, recently added the legendary world cup winning cricketer kapil dev’s statue. kapil who was present for the unveiling spoke about the experience. the latest addition is expected to strengthen delhi’s tourism offerings. veteran indian cricketer and former captain of the indian cricket team, kapil dev, recently unveiled his wax statue at the madame tussauds museum located in the capital. the museum which is said to be london’s biggest tourist attraction is an interactive museum with 23 branches in the world, the twenty third museum being located in delhi. the former captain is set to feature amongst other sports icons like lionel messi and sachin tendulkar. “i am honoured to get my wax ﬁgure among such icons of the nation at madame tussauds delhi. receiving this at the age of 58 motivates me as an individual to evolve more,” kapil said at the unveiling. over 300 measurements of the cricketer were taken by various artists from around the world in order to complete the statue. the ﬁgure, which will be installed in the museum later in the year, shows his balling action from his playing days as a young cricketer. “i had to take off my clothes, didn’t have to strip totally, but it was weird. it’s a new thought. i learnt how the whole process works. i felt it was a little too much. now i can see he (the statue) has lost a little bit of weight,” kapil talked of his experience in preparation for the statue. on being asked whether we would ever get to see another like him he said, “impossible to have another kapil dev. but there will be better kapils, 100s more. ashwin is an all-rounder. jadeja and dhoni too are fabulous all-rounders. anyone with more than one skill is a good all-rounder. i wish a fast bowler and batsman comes out but this indian team has enough players.” “we are extremely thrilled to be unveiling kapil dev’s ﬁgure in delhi. madame tussauds is renowned all over the world for immortalising icons from every sphere; for their fans to be able to admire the exquisite artwork captured forever. kapil dev is a global icon and it goes without saying that his ﬁgure will bring fans from across the globe to capture memories with him,” anshul jain, general manager and director at merlin entertainments india, is quoted as having said.
6 aviati on : capa re po rt europe's top airline groups embrace disruption via digital innovation: capa report europe’s leading carriers are putting in serious efforts to ramp up their digital technology. the recently released capa report mentions how many of these airline companies are acknowledging the need for establishing dedicated incubator or accelerator programme to keep innovating in the digital milieu. excerpts: many of europe's leading airline groups are acknowledging the importance of establishing dedicated incubator and/or accelerator programmes to innovate in digital technology. on 24-apr-2017 iag announced that it had invested in two new technology companies – esplorio and vchain tech. these are the ﬁrst two investments under its hangar 51 accelerator programme in partnership with l marks, an innovation specialist and early stage investor. iag's investments followed easyjet's announcement earlier this year that its partnership with the incubator founders factory had selected two travel startups for its accelerator programme. the lufthansa group established its innovation hub in 2014 and started a new partnership with californian startup investor ‘plug and play’ in 2016. while these three groups chose external partners, ryanair has its inhouse labs team, set up in 2014. air france-klm is alone among europe's big ﬁve airline groups in not having a distinct and dedicated digital incubator/accelerator programme, but it has recognised digital's strategic importance. much of the airlines' rhetoric concerning these developments suggests that they are trying to associate themselves with the forces of disruption, but this will take more than rhetoric. capa has argued previously that the airline industry has been slow to prepare for disruption, but some are at least making a start. iag's hangar 51 accelerator received more than 450 applications in oct-2016 the hangar 51 accelerator programme was announced by iag and its partner l marks, which was founded in 2012 to facilitate links between large corporates seeking to innovate more quickly and young companies with disruptive technologies, products and services. in addition to iag, l marks has worked with clients such as john lewis, edf energy and bmw. ◗ the programme, which iag plans to repeat each year, focuses on four areas: ◗ improving airport processes: making customer journeys through the airport easier. ◗ digitising business processes: developing new tools and processes to speed up and simplify the business. ◗ data driven decisions: ﬁnding new ways that data can increase customer satisfaction and create business value. ◗ wildcard: any idea that startups believe can improve customer experience. hangar 51 received more than 450 applications by its 6-nov-2016 deadline. after a ﬁrst screening, iag selected 26 startups to pitch in dec-2016, before further reducing the number of candidate companies to ﬁve ﬁnalists, who then spent ten weeks working with the group at its heathrow headquarters. glenn morgan, iag's head of digital transformation, said: "our ﬁnalists offer iag a wide range of disruptive opportunities that could create next generation travel experiences and transform the aviation industry". during this ten week period the ﬁnalists were able to trial their products globally and receive mentoring from iag senior management and external mentors. the process ended with a demo day attended by iag ceo willie walsh on 27-mar-2017, when the ﬁve startups presented their accomplishments during their period of working with iag. this then led to the selection of esplorio and vchain tech as the ﬁrst two investments. iag has not said how much it has invested, but it is understood not to have taken a majority shareholding in either company. esplorio records passengers' travel experiences esplorio is an app that automatically records passengers' travel experiences based on their social media updates. it tracks routes and favourite destinations and can generate a travel journal with photo album. at the demo day esplorio said that it foresaw so many opportunities while being in hangar 51 that it decided to do four projects, not just one. these included capturing ba vchain’s key beneﬁt is easier management of customer data, allowing faster passage through airports. its prototype realises errors in data provided by customers and facilitates online corrections. it will be tested with iag products, and vchain is also collaborating with iag on biometrics. in addition to esplorio and vchain, the other three ﬁnalists were resolver, an online resolution service helping consumers and businesses to raise and resolve issues; warwick analytics, data scientists who produce automated predictive analytics software; and undagrid, a tracking solution for unit load devices and customer baggage. iag is seeking entrepreneurs that will transform aviation through the hangar 51 programme, iag is looking for new entrepreneurs that will transform the aviation industry and revolutionise the customer experience through new technology, products and services. it aims to bring “cutting edge digital start-ups into the heart of our business”. glenn morgan, iag’s head of digital transformation, said: “we want them to tell us what we don't know”. this should help to give iag access to technologies and new ideas that it would otherwise not encounter, but in the travel sector, easyjet and founders factory plan to support the growth of five early stage technology startups and co-create two new travel businesses every year for five years. the airline industry has been slow to recognise the opportunities and threats arising from digital developments. and henry lane fox, who were both involved in launching the uk travel and leisure website lastminute.com (with mr lane fox’s sister martha) in the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. founders factory also has investment from corporations in other sectors: l’oréal (cosmetics), aviva (ﬁntech), holtzbrinck (education), guardian media group (media) and csc group (artiﬁcial intelligence). it aims to develop more than 200 early stage technology companies across its six sectors over the next ﬁve years. in the travel sector, easyjet and founders factory plan to support the growth of ﬁve early stage technology startups and co-create two new travel businesses every year for ﬁve years. the airline's director of digital & marketing, james millett, represents easyjet on the founders factory board of directors. millett said that the airline's partnership with founders factory was "all about putting disruptive thinking right at the heart of our digital activities to continue making things easier for customers at all stages of their journey”. s n i ppets igi turns into preferred hub for transit passengers crew members' trips as they toured around london and lisbon, as well as a marketing campaign to promote travel to the uk. it also integrated rich travel content on ba.com, to help drive engagement and increase sales. vchain tech uses blockchain technology in digital identity vchain tech uses blockchain technology to build so called ‘saas’ in the area of digital identity to help airlines share data safely and securely when passengers take connecting ﬂights. ‘saas’ is an acronym for software as a service, which typically refers to software stored in the cloud and accessed through the internet, rather than loaded onto a device. vchain provided a proof of concept on passport validation that is now live with a small group of customers. the solution is designed to streamline airport processes and the work is aligned to the iata one identity vision. both will continue to work with iag both esplorio and vchain will continue to work with iag on further product development. esplorio will provide support to british airways executive club members. the challenge will be to make the appropriate ones a successful part of its own operations. stephen scott, iag's head of global innovation, said “some of the failings of accelerator programmes in the past has been this step from prototypes to integration because they haven’t done the hard yards with the processes ﬁrst. we feel we’ve done that”, he said. scott said the big beneﬁt of investing in startups was getting innovative ideas quickly to market. “speed to market in corporates has been more challenging over the years because of the highly regulated market we work in, so to be able to construct innovation rather than just have ideas and get it into the market quickly is really important.” easyjet has a partnership with incubator founders factory the airline industry has been slow to recognise the opportunities and threats arising from digital developments. however, this is starting to change, and other european airlines have also involved themselves in technology incubation. in oct-2016 easyjet announced an investment in founders factory, an incubator and accelerator founded by brent hoberman as per reports, indira gandhi international airport has turned in to a hub for transit passengers due to an increase in number of ﬂyers who are not bound for delhi. from 2.3% transit trafﬁc of all trafﬁc in 2010, the numbers have now moved up to 11.1 million transit passengers, which is 20 % of the 55.5 million passengers the airport handled in 2016. due to the increase in demand, which was lagging previously as the airlines were hesitant in using the airport as an interchange because of the dearth of facilities, the delhi international airport has had to expand the transfer area of terminal 3. i prabhakara rao, ceo-delhi international airport limited was quoted as having said, “the increase in passengers, along with the addition of new routes in domestic and international sectors by major airlines over the past ﬁve years, has made delhi airport india’s most preferred hub for interchange. we have built this airport keeping in mind future requirements and changing composition from origin/destination (o&d) passengers to transfer passengers. we have also integrated domestic and international operations. today, a minimum connect time is required for airlines if they are using delhi airport as a hub.”
aviation 7 qatar airways’ domestic foray faces regulatory hurdles, opposition from fia qatar airways plan of setting up a domestic airline in india is facing some serious political, regulatory and industry barriers. some of the prominent domestic airline operators have openly voiced their concern over the development. by anagat choudhary in an unprecedented development, qatar airways recently announced its plans to setup a domestic airline in india. “yes, we will have a 100% owned domestic carrier in india that will belong to both the qr (qatar airways) and our state investment arm, as india has now allowed foreign direct investment in domestic carriers within india,” qatar airways ceo akbar al baker had said at itb berlin recently. “we will soon be making an application to that effect, and from there we will proceed,” he added. however, the government’s recent move to allow 100% fdi in commercial aviation and willingness to allow an airline which is fully-owned by foreigners has rufﬂed a few feathers in the local market. the move, which is a new experiment in the sector, is set to account for new challenges to local players. qatar airways has been eying an entry in to the indian market for a while and has repeatedly expressed a desire to invest in indigo, which is the country’s largest domestic airline. there were also talks of an equity partnership with indigo in the past but the international airline was unable to woo the domestic one. recent reports have even suggested that the domestic airlines, grouped in the federation of indian airlines, which include, interglobe aviation ltd-run indigo; goair, operated by go airlines ltd; spicejet ltd and jet airways (india) ltd, are preparing to oppose the move legally. “if the objective of the government with 100 per cent fdi was to get investment to the country, then this will not get any investment as when you set up an airline, essentially you lease aircraft and this will be done from outside india,” ajay singh, md and chairman, spicejet is reported to have told the media. the aviation sector in india is one of the most competitive sectors in the world with “the highest costs and the lowest fares” and “level playing ﬁeld” must be assured so that the sector can grow and prosper, he added. the federation has in the past already taken the ministry of aviation to court over the grant of licenses to airasia india, in which tata sons has a majority 51% stake and malaysia’s air asia bhd and vistara have the minority 49%. tata sons is also partnered with singapore airline ltd for vistara. according to industry experts, what needs further scrutiny is qatar airline’s actual motivation in eyeing indian trafﬁc. apart from national security concerns, one of the reasons being cited for opposition to this move is that qatar does not allow any foreign airline to start-up airlines in qatar. the lack of reciprocity is being cited as an element of unfair practices. also, india is poised to become the world’s third largest aviation market by 2020. domestic air travel is expected to grow by 9.5% annually between 2011 and 2031, according to media reports. currently, only about 2% of india’s population uses airlines, providing a massive opportunity to expand the market. the industry is looking at these growth if the objective of the government with 100 per cent fdi was to get investment to the country, then this will not get any investment as when you set up an airline, essentially you lease aircraft and this will be done from outside india. we have made our concerns known to the government. it is up to them to country.,, take the appropriate call and we are confident that they will take a call which is in the interest of the ajay singh md & chairman, spicejet ﬁgures when the domestic airlines, helped by the plummeting crude oil prices, have just started to see some recovery after years of gloom. between 2011 and 2015, none of india’s airlines, except for indigo and goair, made any proﬁts with two airlines’, kingﬁsher and paramount, going on to shut shop completely. experts believe that the entry of a foreign owned airline in to the market at this point of time would further destabilise the situation. the move is also aimed at making doha a bigger international aviation hub and the growing numbers from india will likely feed in to qatar airways’ global network. at a time when the indian government has launched its ambitious udan scheme to increase regional connectivity, qatar government’s focus is onward trafﬁc from doha and not on domestic underserved routes. “we have made our concerns known to the government. it is up to them to take the appropriate call and we are conﬁdent that they will take a call which is in the interest of the country,” ajay singh is reported as having said. pm flags off udan scheme eyeing regional connectivity the much-awaited udan scheme which aims at strengthening regional air-connectivity by providing subsidized air-fare was launched recently in shimla by prime minister. he called the move a game changer in driving aviation traffic. by anagat choudhary the central government's ambitious udan scheme was launched from jubbar hatti airport near shimla in himachal pradesh last month. the pm, who was accompanied by chief minister virbhadra singh and union ministers p. ashok gajapathi raju, jayant sinha and j.p. nadda, simultaneously ﬂagged off inaugural udan ﬂights on the kadapa-hyderabad and nanded- hyderabad sectors through video conferencing. the scheme is aimed at increasing regional connectivity and enabling people from small towns to ﬂy at cheap fares. in a series of tweets, the pmo said that the airfare for a one-hour, 500 km journey has been capped at an all-inclusive rate of `2,500. the pricing may vary for longer routes and durations and a single person is eligible to buy 9 to 40 seats in a ﬂight. countries like usa, canada and australia also have similar schemes in place. according to union minister jayant sinha, the scheme is lined up to create an additional 100 airports within the next 2-3 years. airlines under the udan scheme will have a seating capacity ranging from 19 to 78 seats and a fare cap of `2,500 per seat for 50 per cent of the seats in each ﬂight. airline allied services, spicejet, turbo megha airways and air odisha are the airlines which have been chosen to ply passengers under this scheme. “the lives of the middle class are being transformed and their aspirations are increasing. given the right chance, they can do wonders. why should air services be only for the elite in this country? i told my ofﬁcials that i want people wearing hawai chappals to be taking ﬂights. today, you can ﬂy at rates that are cheaper than taxi, which may cost you `8 to `10 per kilometre. under these ﬂights, you can ﬂy for as low as `6 to `7/ kilometre and reach delhi from shimla in an hour,” prime minister narendra modi said at his public address in shimla on thursday. the pm also went on to add that out of the 75 airports that could be made operational under this scheme, 30 would be made pm narendra modi flags off the inaugural shimla-delhi flight under udan scheme operational within the year. the scheme, which was developed through extensive and multiple consultations with stakeholders, is said to operate at various levels to ensure proﬁtability. firstly, by reducing operating costs signiﬁcantly. secondly, by providing a market- discovered subsidy for half the seats and ﬁnally, by guaranteeing a three-year exclusivity on routes. the routes that are to be connected have been chosen by the airlines themselves keeping in mind the market potential between various destinations. the scheme also has market friendly features like reduction in air turbine fuel taxes and removal of navigation and airport charges. udan is also said to have aroused signiﬁcant interest in private operators who are eager to ﬁnd a way to tap into new markets. whether the newcomer airlines under the udan scheme are able to survive, despite the host of concessions and subsidies at landing airports, remains to be seen.
8 aviation : rcs stakeholders examine regional connectivity scheme at iffaad seminar the recently concluded iffaad seminar on regional connectivity scheme (rcs) brought together diverse stakeholders of the aviation industry under one roof. panelists examined facets of the scheme, suggesting some amendments to bring all constituents in congruence with the policy. the following document is the list of recommendation post deliberations. by operators, thereby reducing one step of the whole procedure. ◗ moca has welcomed the suggestions for the improvement of the scheme and assured the audience that the suggestions like ﬂexibility of seats/ ﬂights per week and allowing single engine aircraft may be considered at an appropriate stage. it was also informed that the next round of bidding will be done for difﬁcult/remote terrain destinations within 2 months. it was pointed that while india is going to be the third largest civil aviation sector in july 2017 in terms of numbers, we should also strive to be the leader in civil aviation in terms of technical advancement thereby ensuring safe and efﬁcient operations. in this regard, during a presentation on gagan (gps ◗ rcs can be a game changer for the economy as benefits for employment and opening the regional economy are well established. enabled geo augmented navigation) it was pointed out that the aai in collaboration with isro has successfully put gagan satellite in orbit in 2014, which is now fully operational. this navigational satellite is eminently suitable for regional airports, which lack basic ground-based equipment. however, since the unserved airports have not been integrated with gagan, this great asset remains unutilised. meanwhile aai intends to utilise government funds to equip these airports with traditional ground based navigation facilities as they hardly have any, for which the cabinet has sanctioned `4500 crores. it was also pointed out that no landing procedures for these airports have been devised nor the equipment required on board aircraft has been installed. it was stated that in the us, waas and in europe egnos are being used extensively for satellite based landings. both these issues need to be resolved urgently. the indian operators ﬁnd the equipment in an aircraft for satnav very expensive and beyond the reach of small airlines. a way out of this imbroglio needs to be found. it was conﬁrmed by the implementing agency that all the unserved/ underserved airports selected to be operationalised for rcs will have to be licenced by dgca and their security to be vetted by bcas. ◗ ◗ another issue that came up was with regards to leasing of small aircraft. it was felt that ﬁnancing the aircraft by way of leasing or outright purchase will be a problem. how do you create an eco-system for leasing of small aircraft? india is still considered a risky place after kingﬁsher and other episodes. ◗ landing slots and parking; it was stated ◗ ◗ that there is saturation in metro airports of mumbai, delhi, chennai, bangalore etc. landing slots for rcs ﬂights have been provided for late at night and hardly any parking slots are available. for rcs to succeed, more and convenient landing slots are needed along with parking bays. it was also felt that to make rcs successful, more innovative technologies need to be introduced, like satellite landing or new cheaper and more efﬁcient passenger and baggage handling technologies available in the world. it was requested by the operators that there should be a single window system for necessary approvals by the regulator and all the three agencies i.e. aai, dgca and moca need to have close coordination to facilitate the smooth operation and successful implementation of the scheme. brief summary: about 25 persons including leading experts, government ofﬁcials, air operators and journalists attended. all went back impressed with our high quality of presentation and discussion. major issues raised: ◗ it was agreed that rcs can be a game changer for the economy as beneﬁts for employment and opening the regional economy are well established. it was pointed out that india will become the third biggest civil aviation sector in a few months when it takes over japan and yet only 2% of indians ﬂy. with rcs, there can be a much greater inclusive growth in aviation itself. it will also improve our position in world banks air connectivity index. ◗ the concept of unserved and underserved airports being opened for trafﬁc with subsidy, exclusive rights and other beneﬁts was generally appreciated. one participant felt that there was no need for any subsidy while other beneﬁts may remain. it was pointed out that spice jet, which also participated in the bidding, has stated that they need no subsidy but will avail other beneﬁts. it was felt that the regional connectivity fund (rcf) has not been able to collect much funds so far as only one airline has been paying its fees as per rcs while other airlines have taken government to court and the matter is sub-judice. ◗ ◗ a query was also raised regarding legal backup for disbursal of vgf. a similar case regarding union telecom fund was mentioned where the ministry had to go back to parliament to seek legal sanctity to disburse the funds after collection. it was assured by the govt. that the amendment to the rule in this regard has already been made. it was pointed out that this is the third attempt by the government at regional aviation- ﬁrst attempt being vayudoot airline experiment in 1981 by a joint venture between the then two public sector monopoly airlines which lasted for about 12 connecting at its peak 100 stations. however, the airline collapsed ◗ due to heavy unsustainable losses. the second attempt to attract private airlines without subsidy was largely unsuccessful. therefore, for this third attempt government wants make sure its success and hence the vgf and 3 years exclusive rights etc. it was also mentioned that way back in 2003 naresh chandra committee on ‘indian aviation: the road ahead’ in its report had also proposed a subsidy fund for regional air connectivity but no action was taken on it. it was explained that while there is no arbitration clause mentioned in the rcs, it will be kept in the individual contracts between aai and rcs operators so selected. ◗ ◗ suggestions like allowing fractional ownership were discussed, where operators can have shared resources on similar ﬂeet in order to cut down the cost of operation. ◗ helicopter operations have not been encouraged in rcs. government should engage with pawan hans ltd. and global vectra or other similar operators to explore the possibility of covering helicopter operations under rcs. ◗ another critical issue that has been raised many times is of timely payment of vgf to the rcs operators. it was again urged upon aai, the implementing agency to make sure that the payments are made in a time-bound manner and should not get delayed due to minor procedural issues, which can be tackled later. as such it will be difﬁcult for the operator to operate on such thin margins. it was suggested that government should cap seats per week and not the ﬂights per week. it should be left to the operator to decide on the frequency of ﬂights, depending upon the market conditions. ◗ ◗ the issue of not permitting single engine aircraft under rcs was discussed. it was pointed out the world over small single engine aircraft are being used for regional services and india should also allow it. ◗ on behalf of ministry of civil aviation, it was informed that the regulator has been advised to guide and facilitate the sca operators and nodal ofﬁcers have been appointed for such purposes. moca has done away with the requirement of obtaining the initial noc alliance air plans to lease 10 atr aircrafts to boost udan scheme “air india has embarked on connect india programme under which it aims to bring smaller cities on the country’s air network map. the leasing of 10 atrs for a period of 12 years will help alliance air not only enhance frequencies on the existing routes but also commence services on some newer regional routes which remain off the aviation map as of now,” said an alliance spokesperson as quoted in a leading daily. the spokesperson went on to add that the alliance air, an air india subsidiary, will be leasing at least 10 atr 72-600 aircraft from government controlled dubai aerospace enterprise ltd. the airlines, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of air india limited, caters to 34 destinations with most of these destinations being tier-ii and tier-iii cities, or those that link these cities to the national hubs and has a ﬂeet of 11 aircraft. alliance air is one of the 5 airlines which were selected in the ﬁrst round of bidding for udan (ude desh ka aam naagrik) and has been granted eight routes under the scheme with more routes expected in the ensuing rounds of bidding. the agreements for the planes which are said to have a capacity of around 72 seats have already been signed and the aircraft are set to be delivered this year, according to a statement made by dae. the ten planes are scheduled alliance air is one of the 5 airlines which were selected in the first round of bidding for udan. to be delivered “throughout 2017”, dubai aerospace said in a release. the move is aimed to boost the airline’s connect india programme as well as the government’s regional connectivity scheme, and is speciﬁcally focussed on connecting under-served or non- operational airports. the ﬁrst ﬂight under the scheme was ﬂown by alliance air from shimla to delhi last month. dae is one of the biggest lessors of atr 72-600 aircrafts and the deal has been ﬁnalised just a few weeks after a large portfolio of atrs was acquired by dae from ge capital aviation services. airline had already invited bids from interested parties in this regard and that the supplier of these planes would also have to provide up to 50 pilots for a minimum period of two years. alliance air which started as a low-cost arm of indian airlines was renamed air india regional after the merger with air india. “we are delighted to welcome alliance air as our newest customer,” dubai aerospace ceo firoz tarapore said. airdeccan, spicejet, airodisha and trujet are the other airlines which have been selected to ply passengers under udan scheme.
aviati on : j et ai rways 9 jet airways to focus on millennials and sme travellers, ‘guest first’ philosophy jet airways, after having brought all its brands under one umbrella couple of years ago, has made 'guest first' philosophy its core driving principle. belson coutinho speaks to tourismfirst to share the airline's future course of action and current engagements. how are you marketing the brand domestically and how is the outreach happening? if you step back some years, you probably will get a good feel of how the brand was positioned and what sort of communication with which were able to engage with customers. if you see, it was predominantly focusing on the business traveller. over the last one and a half years, more speciﬁcally, a lot of our focus has gone into deﬁning the way we position our brand and the way we are engaging with the consumer. it came out of a lot of research. the whole consumer segmentation within the indian travel ecosystem has changed a lot. a lot of that is being driven by the fact that digital and social media is playing a very extensive role for any brand outreach, and also for the consumer to engage with the brand. that is when our thought process came in that while the business traveller and the corporate segment remains important and we continue to engage with, going forward, new segments that are growing – new-age traveller and millennials, sme travellers – need to be engaged with. so, we have started consciously focusing equally, if not more, on these two larger segments as well. from the marketing perspective, the conscious focus has been to drive engagement. what i mean by that is instead of pure play-direct marketing messages, the intention is to make the brand more relevant for these consumer segments. in the last 9-12 months, our focus has been on generation of a lot of video content. what we realise is that consumer is literally consuming content on the ﬂy. the takeaway for us was that brands need to tell a story. brands need to be relevant to the consumer for them to relate to what we are trying to say. we started storytelling in the form of a video, leveraging the wide network that we have. if you see, all of it ties back to our brand philosophy which is ‘guest ﬁrst’, meaning how do you relate to the consumer with anything and everything you do. you mentioned sme and millennial travellers as two distinct segments that the brand has focussed on. we in the industry have been hearing about the leisure segment and how it is on the move. so, do you see that translating into commercial gains as far as the airline is concerned? absolutely. it is a very valid point. the focus on one side continues to be the corporate traveller which has been our strength and continue to be our strength, the bubble is getting bigger, equally, on the other side. what i meant by when i said focus on newer segments which are millennials and sme, there is a tremendous amount of leisure, not just for vfr, but also short-duration travel, weekend travel etc. that is what we are also trying to leverage, backing it with a lot of investment in the holiday side of business – jetescapes. charter and niche sort of holidays which again dives into mind about how do you create experiences, rather than just a point a to b holiday and come back. it is also a great opportunity to leverage what india is to over the last one and a half years, more specifically, a lot of our focus has gone into defining the way we position our brand and the way we are engaging with the consumer. it came out of a lot of research. the whole consumer segmentation within the indian travel ecosystem has changed a lot. a lot of that is being driven by the fact that digital and social media is playing a very extensive role for any brand outreach, and also for the consumer to engage with the brand. ,, never got away from that. so, what we are doing today is only a reinforcement of what we have always tried to do. as an indian carrier, it is, by default, our right to own it. it is about amplifying it and it has always been our core essence, right from service design to service delivery. so, it is only an extension. give us a sense of how is the online marketing happening. have you seen a spike in online booking post demonetization? what percentage of the online booking is driven by your own channel and how much by otas? from a digital marketing point of view, we are signiﬁcant in terms of our focus on digital marketing. the good part is that in the space of digital and social media we are the early adopters of channels. we started digital and social even when it was at an initial stage and the great part of that was that we had the leverage to work and partner with the channel partners at a very early stage. it is part of an always on digital media and communication. if you are online you will see us doing this as an always on campaign that is largely focussing on generating conversions and leads back to our website. obviously, we want more and more vp-marketing, e-commerce & innovation, jet airways belson coutinho offer. that is what the younger generation or the new-age consumer is looking forward to. what better than we as an airline who have an extensive connectivity across, helping the consumer to explore the experiential side of india. and that is where we started leading towards different events if i may say. so, during the diwali time, typically, one would showcase it as the festival of lights and ﬁreworks. we explored a side that is not really known very well. every state celebrates diwali in its unique way, but the spirit of diwali remains the same. so, we showcased how diwali happens in different regions. leisure is a growing segment and our engagement is really showing good results. the airline’s attempt to create a niche position will also aid in the whole push towards marketing the ‘brand india’ in the international marketspace. can you take through that bit? how are you marketing brand india and bringing in more tourists into the country? we have such a great opportunity to sell india in the overseas market and, fortunately, we have the luxury of being present in so many countries. we ﬂy to 20 destinations overseas and every country has an opportunity for us to talk to the audience. as much as there are indians who travel, there is opportunity to talk to locals about india and what it can offer them in terms of experiences. this is an interesting question which brings me to the point that in december 2014 we moved from having multiple brands inti a single brand. that was the start of a very interesting and successful phase for us from a brand perspective. with it the whole ‘guest ﬁrst’ concept came in, though, primarily, as a brand we were always about service and hospitality. we decided to get everything together. right from enhancing the training level of our ground staff, to enhancing product experience – right from product design, to website, to the takeaway for us was that brands need to tell a story. brands need to be relevant to the consumer for them to relate to what we are trying to say. check-in procedures. a whole lot of effort and investment went into creating a single brand, focusing on one strategy i.e. guest ﬁrst. to convert directly but at the same time we balance that with a good amount of brand engagement and brand visibility as well. there is a tremendous amount of positive feedback that has come in through. tripadvisor has rated us the best airline. it is great, all the more, because it is not solicited research. going back to overseas market and how we position it, we started amsterdam ﬂight just about a year ago. we ﬁnished one year in march. that gave us an opportunity to position our brand and there is no better way to position it as an indian brand, bringing the indian hospitality to amsterdam. we did a massive campaigning in that market. right from trams, in fact it was such a sight and i had so many of our guests ﬁnding a tram in and around amsterdam completely branded. we continue to focus on that. the hospitality part and experiencing india. so, there were two key segments that we focussed on. one was the local populace which needed to experience indian hospitality and the other one is, of course, indians who have settled there. we started communication which was very targeted. think home, think jet airways. a number of international carriers have been very keen on injecting a sense of indianness to their offerings. so, the whole thrust is in that direct. jet airways is doing it in more wider sense, i believe. can you talk to us a little bit about that? if you look back at where we started, it has always been indian hospitality. i think we the other piece which is signiﬁcant for us is the social media engagement. we have a very structured social media strategy and it is about ‘listen, engage and respond’. we have a twenty-four seven social media listening team, that listens to any and everything that is talked about the brand. they respond twenty-four seven to any queries or questions. more importantly we try to pro- actively share information and updates not just about our operations and ﬂights but also on things about travel, aviation and things that a consumer may ﬁnd really interesting. so, the consumer today does not really want to get much of tactical updates via social media but they do want to talk to you with stories and interesting insights about travel and aviation facts. i think that is one of our most successful pillars that we are driving today. for example, we started a program for plane spotters. you will be surprised by the amount of plane spotters that exist in this country and once we started engaging with them, the amount of content we generate from them is amazing. some of the most aircraft shots while taking off or landing come from these plane spotters who are now part of our community. outsourced content is what we are collaborating on and sharing. we are very active on all the social media platforms and in fact these are the biggest communities for airlines in india. we really do not benchmark it in terms of the fans and followers but it is the largest in terms of the numbers and engagement.
10 h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 belief in the product and offerings key to demand fair room rates, concur leaders take radical decisions to price adequately; it makes sense for us to be in india, says shafi syed pointing towards a unique anomaly existing in india, he highlighted how corporate travellers manage to get rooms at unrealistically cheap prices, making them more resolute in refraining from paying higher sums when they come back as leisure travellers. he asked the industry to fix this glaring pitfall and look at long-term losses than garnering short-term gains. also, given the momentum of travel between india and dubai, backed by robust air-connectivity, it made complete sense for the jumeriah group to operate in india, he added. the hotel supply in dubai is expected to be about hundred thousand rooms which is same as india, in the next three years. it just puts things into perspective. the supply and demand right now is at a stage where demand is 9.7% and supply is growing at 6%. so, there is a fairly healthy gap between the two. when you get to the expo 2020 which is the big event, they are not really going for just the expo 2020.,, president of the united states and you left the job. how many hoteliers can claim to be the president of the usa? that was the ﬁrst. so, i will just put a positive spin on it and say that it is a great thing to have a hotelier as a president. just going back to the word ‘ban’. the word ‘ban’ is a terrible word for our industry, whether it is laptop ban, or mexican ban, or liquor ban on highways. kapil chopra: you have eight hotels in dubai, and across the spectrum really. some very high luxury ones. f&b in dubai is booming really. we have a hotel in dubai, and we are opening another one this week. it is scary to see a city which opens a luxury brand every month. where do you think this is heading? everybody is talking about 2020, the world expo, but that is just an event. what happens after that? do we see what happened in 2008 where people left their cars on the airport and ran out of the country? where do you see the dubai rate market going, because again, rates are static for some time now? i think dubai is the best example of ‘build it outside of india. so, if you think about it, there is a lot of vision behind what they are trying to do. kapil chopra: are you opening any more hotels other than the jumeriah in dubai? we are going to be a lot more cautious now. we have got 2000 keys in the beach stretch, seven hotels on the beach, including burj al arab – which trades at about 2000 usd per night. al naseem, our latest hotel, opened in december, trades at about 600 usd/night at about 80% occupancy. so, prime micro-locations in dubai will still continue to perform, so it is all about where you are located in that city. i deﬁnitely see a correction in rates, but occupancy continues to remain strong. it is a great story. kapil chopra: dubai is a very unique market where you get hotel rooms at 700 dirhams, but you are still able to sell it at 2000-3000 dirhams. it is a great market for brands. why do you think india has not been to do something like that? it is very interesting. when we meet customers here, we talk to owners, chief development officer, jumeirah group shafi syed by shashank shekhar kapil chopra: since 2011, jumeriah has almost doubled its properties and has 21 hotels in 8 countries. when do we see a jumeriah in india, because we have been hearing about it for a long time? what are the plans, really? it is obviously a market that has not got the ease of execution and for a brand coming from outside into india, it becomes even harder. to give you some perspective, in the last four years when we did signed a deal in mumbai, and we hoped to execute against that, in that time-frame we opened six hotels, including in london, nanjing and bali. we would love to open a hotel in india, as soon as possible. i think it makes absolute sense. it took me two and a half hours to come from dubai to mumbai. there are around 500 ﬂights. i am not just speaking as a dubai brand, but as a global brand, because we have over 21 hotels, but certainly as a source-market, there is a lot of cross- pollination between india and dubai. it is a fantastic destination. indians actually became number one tourists into dubai this year. dubai is the fourth most visited city in the world. so, you can imagine that if india is creating that momentum, it absolutely makes sense for us to be here. kapil chopra: when you are planning to come into india, will you only do management contracts? do you do investments into hotels? what does jumeirah do globally? we have got about six thousand keys globally, across those 21 hotels. we own 50% of those keys. so, we are an owner-investor. i think that is very rare in today’s day and age. certainly, i think in india, that seems to be the case where brands such as taj, the leela and the oberoi continue to hold assets. in the home market, in dubai, we own seven of our hotels. we own hotels in london; we lease properties in europe where there is a market to lease. if ownership is the route to come into india, then we are certainly open to that. we have gone into china, for instance. our owners have never asked us to put any skin in the game. so, if there is a requirement for us to come in and put equity in this market, and if that is the only way to get in, we are certainly open to that. kapil chopra: i will name a month and you tell me what happened. july 2016. from a personal stand-point. i see where you are going with this. there was a ban on a lot of people from entering the usa. if ownership is the route to come into india, then we are certainly open to that. and they will come’. that has always been the premise on which that was done and jumeriah was a part of the story, including emirates airlines. emirates strategy was to take a billion indians from here to the rest of the world. and, they have succeeded now. today, dubai is the busiest airport in the world. it pips the heathrow in london, and it has done that in the last 15 years. as a destination, dubai is only 20 years old. jumeriah turns 20 this year. so, it is a very young brand. certainly, what happened in 2008 is a very unique event. it was a global ﬁnancial crisis, and it impacted a city in its very ambitious growth phase. what dubai has done, today, is that it has world- class infrastructure, airports. the hotel supply in dubai is expected to be about hundred thousand rooms which is same as india, in the next three years. it just puts things into perspective. the supply and demand right now is at a stage where demand is 9.7% and supply is growing at 6%. developers, pe ﬁrms, they very proudly say that they have got a rate with a number of international luxury brands in india in prime micro-locations in delhi, mumbai and goa, they say they pay 8000 rupees when they go on a holiday, on a corporate rate. i think that is the root cause there, and there is no magic bullet out there, that at the corporate level the same customer who is getting a corporate rate is the same customer in the luxury segment who is also staying in the luxury side. so, he knows that he is getting 8000 rupees rate in the best hotel. you have got the lowest adrs in india. the same customer is staying for a holiday with you and not willing to pay twice the amount. there lies a huge problem that when you are going out with your corporate rfps, you are really trying to gain market share and you are losing sight of the fact that the same customer is going to pay `20,000. i stayed at the leela bengaluru eight years ago and paid `20,000. so, there is a fairly healthy gap between so, if you take a brave decision, whether kapil chopra: shafi decided to leave trump hotels and joined jumeriah. just some months later, the owner of trump hotels became the president of the united states. so, how do you look back in retrospect? you were working for the the two. when you get to the expo 2020 which is the big event, they are not really going for just the expo 2020. there is a lot happening before that. they have just opened six theme parks in dubai; they have opened a bollywood theme park in dubai, it is as radical as going in cartel way. i heard you saying, let us hunt in pairs, and suddenly the customer is saying, that is the rate you have to pay. it is the same customer who is paying 500 pounds in our london hotels.
h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 11 the current trend of ‘wait and watch’ on the rate front is not helping industry’s cause: rajiv kaul instead of taking the lead in increasing room rates, most hotels choose to play the waiting game, and are the last ones to take the tougher route, alleges rajiv kaul, president, the leela palaces, hotels and resorts. he called for a cohesive effort from the industry, highlighting that the leela had retained pole-position in room rates in several cities it operated in, but inadvertently, it all boiled down to the extent of sacrifice the hotel is willing to make on the occupancy front to retain that coveted tag. on the question posed to dipak haksar on itc not building 500-600 us dollar/night hotels. they have invested in 500 dollars/night hotels. they own 13% of the leela and 10% of the oberoi. i just wanted to correct that. kapil chopra poses a question to rajiv kaul as dipak haksar: there has been a lot of talk in managing the debt situation in the leela hotels. could you please share details on total debt and how you will reduce debt? we can only do this over a drink – which is not water. thank you for your concern! i would only share that we have been working to ﬁnd a total solution to this problem, rather than a piecemeal solution. the brand today has 9 hotels. we have, in our last presentation to our board, agreed to have at least 15 hotels in the next ﬁve years. so, we will add 15 properties in the next ﬁve years. we are looking forward and growing through management contracts. there is a game plan which will be executed. kapil chopra: the leela delhi had a phenomenal opportunity. one of the hotels in the competitive set closed down. the second hotel was always in the news for auctions. another competitor, shangri la had a phenomenal inventory under renovation. i looked at the leela delhi revpar and i saw a 9.10% growth. do not you think it should have been higher. here was an opportunity, because i remember listening to capt. nair when he opened the wonderful hotel, and he said it could be the first 500 usd/night hotel in city. so, there was an opportunity with constrained supply in the city-centre to push the rate higher? we spent a few minutes on this and we decided we will do what we did. first thing is kapil, you are right, the oberoi closed down. with it closing down, about 190 rooms per day, for the last ﬁnancial year, was not available. the leela gained 15 rooms per day over the previous year. what is interesting is that the oberoi, or taj, or other hotels were operating at an arr level which is 50% lower than what the leela has operated. so, the point really is that there is a demand constraint, but how many people are going to pay 50% more than what they were paying at these hotels to come to us. we took that chance. despite that, we have been able to grow, both, rates as well as this. we are aware that the city occupancy only dropped. kapil chopra: the question is that are you happy? i am pleased on most days. kapil chopra: when do we see city hotels consistently over 25000 rupees, for example – and that is less than usd 400. most of the major cities in the world have gone there. i think in resorts we are getting there. our resorts are comparably priced with pretty much anywhere in the world. but coming to city hotels, we charge less and also give away some of the free inclusions, there by threatening the very thread of profitability that hotels have in this country. what stops us from charging those prices and when do you think this will happen when it has to happen? i think delhi is the ﬁrst place where we will see this happening. we are absolutely delighted that the oberoi is being renovated. kapil chopra: we want to hit that mark. we have a vested interest in pushing this. it is a well-known saying in cricket that fast i think there is no excuse for not getting that rate in delhi, in the leisure market, because there is an ability to pay. the same customer is paying 700 usd per day for ten days, out of his 14 days stay. so, why would he not pay it for the balance four days. so, i think it is a question of the product and our approach to it. this current trend of i will be the last man in, i do not think this is helping anybody. ,, president, the leela palaces, hotels and resorts rajiv kaul bowlers hunt better in pairs. now, we will be able to hunt better for those rates. and i think there is no excuse for not getting that rate in delhi, in the leisure market, because there is an ability to pay. the same customer is paying 700 usd per day for ten days, out of his 14 days stay. so, why would he not pay it for the balance four days. so, i think it is a question of the product and our approach to it. as regards other markets and why we have not done it, the imperial had a rate of 18000 rupees on 26th of november 2008, when that unfortunate attack happened in mumbai. you can well imagine, if this was the rate in 2008, by the end of that ﬁnancial year they would have closed at a rate of `19,500. use math and convert that in dollar rate. dollar was sitting then at 44. even with zero growth, we should be sitting at `2,500. so, we need to do some introspection. kapil chopra: moving from dollar rate to inr rate was a self-goal by the industry? that was a major self-goal. but that is ﬁne, because there is no point crying over spilt milk. i think it is what we can do together, tomorrow. if there is a product, back it with minimum conviction. we all have to be realistic, it is not all about aspiration management. it is also about reality management. if there is a product and there is a customer willing to pay for it, then we must make an effort. this current trend of i will be the last man in, i do not think this is helping anybody. you have to see what you can do to contribute where you want to get. on our part, modestly, we have been the rate leaders in the majority of markets where we are. whether it being delhi, goa, kovalam, bengaluru and chennai. we have been rate leaders. the question is to what extent are you willing to sacriﬁce occupancy for rate leadership. operators must demonstrate courage to push rooms rates where they deserve to be: adarsh jatia given the quality of product and prohibitive investments in developing properties, it is high-time when operators show conviction, and start demanding room rates commensurate to the product, feels adarsh jatia. he also commended the fact that international brands have opened shop in vicinity of four seasons, creating a “micro-market in the city.” on his experience of opening a four seasons in mumbai. on room rates and others we were the ﬁrst four seasons to open in india. worli was a new location. it was a brilliant move. today, it looks like common sense to put up a hotel there, but back then it was not. we have done extremely well. we have established worli as a location. st. regis has opened up next door. a lot more hotels should open up in the vicinity because there is millions of sq. ft. of commercials and residential land going up. we were the ﬁrst movers and we beneﬁtted from that. as far as four seasons brand goes, we deﬁnitely added a lot of value. we may not have been the rate leader in the last couple of years, but we have certainly been revpar leaders. among the top two in the city of mumbai, both south mumbai and north mumbai. kapil chopra: so, that could also to do with the inventory really? we have always taken the view that let us build the yield, rather than just focussing on the rate while saying that i do believe that luxury hotels should come on their own, and start charging the rates that they deserve. i do believe that indian luxury hotels are not charging the arrs that they should be charging. the hotel has done extremely well in terms of f&b. we have got some of the most successful outlets, both in terms of bars and restaurants. so, i would say i am extremely happy with the association. kapil chopra: shangri-la became palladium; palladium became st. regis; st. regis became marriott-st. regis. has it impacted you, or is it just another hotel down the road? the fact that there were so many changes, it did impact that micro-market. there was some amount of turbulence for those 3-4 years. when you have an unbranded hotel by a ﬁrst-time owner, it is always going to be challenging, in terms of them dropping rates, disturbing that micro-market. now that st. regis is there, and with the marriott network, we are quite happy. now, you have an international brand that is adjacent to you is, kind of, creating a micro-market for luxury hotels. for the longest time, you had taj and oberoi in south mumbai. now, you have st. regis and four seasons creating a market for themselves. the competition is really good. i think we have grown, both in terms of rooms and f&b. the growth has been really good. so, we continue to do the good work that we are doing. the likes of st. regis, or any other international brand in the vicinity is a welcome change for us. kapil chopra: when do we see city hotels consistently over 25000 rupees, for example – and that is less than operators need to have confidence in themselves and their product. we are competing with ourselves, giving away room-nights at throw away price. 200-300 usd in mumbai is a crime, right? there are a lot of hotel owners who have invested a lot of money into their assets and it is about time that operators step up, and start charging more than what they are charging. as an owner, i am waiting for that time. that gap is kind of moving in our favour. so, if not now, then when?,, md, provenance land owner, four seasons hotel mumbai adarsh jatia usd 400. most of the major cities in the world have gone there. we charge less and also give away some free inclusions, there by threatening the very thread of profitability that hotels have in this country. what stops us from charging those prices? i am an asset owner. it is about time. operators need to have conﬁdence in themselves and their product. we are competing with ourselves, giving away room-nights at throw away price. 200-300 usd in mumbai is a crime, right? there are a lot of hotel owners who have invested a lot of money into their assets and it is about time that operators step up, and start charging more than what they are charging. as an owner, i am waiting for that time. that gap is kind of moving in our favour. so, if not now, then when?
12 h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 tourism not a national priority is our perception; demand- supply mismatch hitting adrs, says vikram madhok india’s perception as a destination, globally, needs to be altered to create the kind of pull which would, in turn, assist in raising room rates, argues vikram madhok. he noted that despite the rise of online players, now curating experiences, dmcs would continue to maintain their hold because of their specialised nature of operation. excerpts: i think perception of the destination also works towards adrs of hotels. dubai, london, paris, or new york have historically commanded a higher rate. also, because they have a large base of leisure travellers. dubai’s large part of business comes from leisure. india’s perception, today, and i think that is the fundamental issue that we have, is that tourism is not our priority. i see nobody here from ministry of tourism. it is unfortunate. ,, vikram madhok managing director-india, abercrombie & kent on ashish jakhanwala’s statement of being colour blind what he is metaphorically saying is that he is industrialising the product. let me tell you that our customers in our space are extremely discerning. also, there is a plethora of choice for people when they are deciding their destinations for travel for a holiday. so, if you speak about people in the good ﬁrst-class segment, three-star, four-star, or four-star plus, there are a huge number of choices for people to make a choice. i do believe that colours of a destination do attract and ‘incredible india’ is a very colourful country. i see a lot of guests coming to india because of that colour. kapil chopra: people build great hotels. you get customers to stay in those hotels. with all respect to you, abercrombie and kent operates at the highest average room rates, if i take a broad spectrum of operators here. tell me two major initiatives that you have taken last year to increase the number of tourists coming to india, or you are like a river and fish… let me stop you here. firstly, i acknowledge that abercrombie and kent as a group, globally what we do is, we stick to our knitting. our knitting is primarily in the luxury landscape. that is how we operate. coming to india, ﬁrstly, there is not all ‘doom and gloom’, especially, and i heard a le meridien goes dark on earth hour, expresses solidarity towards climate change challenges le meridien switched off its lights to honour the earth hour, highlighting the challenges confronting the society at large from global warming. the event was attended by locals in large numbers. by anagat choudhary displaying its commitment towards a sustainable way of life, le meridien new delhi went dark during earth hour 2017 to highlight the growing urgency to address a number of imminent climate change issues. earth hour - the environmental awareness event is a global event which is held annually and was initiated by the world wildlife fund in 2007. the event is an initiative where citizens from across the globe are encouraged to show their support for action on climate change by turning off their lights for one hour. cities, municipalities and towns across the globe turned off their lights to send across a powerful global message that there is a pressing need for immediate action on climate change. the hotel, which is known to be a leader in undertaking social causes, took various steps like turning off the exterior signage lighting, using candles in public areas of the hotel, and minimum usage of non-essential lighting etc. the event was an open walk-in event for everyone to partici- pate and the hotel guests were also encouraged to support the cause by lighting candles in the hotel’s tennis court to form the well-known ‘earth hour’ logo. speaking to tourismfirst, meena bhatia, vice president – operations and marketing said “we wanted to re-afﬁrm our commitment towards saving energy and the planet. we do various things during the course of the year like using led lights, rain water harvesting, solar lights etc. i think if everybody does this for one hour, it really conveys a very strong message on a global scale apart from of course saving the amount of energy we do for this one hour.” adding further “this is our 6th edition and we choose an outdoor venue because we reduce the hotel lights to half. the re- sponse has been very overwhelming and at the end of the event, we are going to post the results of tonight’s event, energy saving wise, on our website which is something we do every year. to me it is not just that electricity, or the power that we save in this one hour, i think it is more about commitment,” she said. talking about how the industry had come together in contributing to, not only the campaign but, the issue of climate change in general, she added “i think our industry has done its bit very well. almost everybody in the industry is now contributing by doing things like equipping their roofs with solar panels, using cfls, using natural gas etc. i think we have done our bit and we will continue to do our bit as technology improves and as newer things come in. this particular area of delhi is so green, and that is the kind of thing that we want to commit to and retain otherwise what do our guests come here and see?” lot of panellists talk about numbers coming to india, nine million and we should have more. of course, you should have more. of course, you should reach ﬁfteen million, or twenty million, but god forbid, if 15-20 million people came to india, let me tell you that everything will collapse. from transportation, to guides, and i am talking about tourism business. so, we would be having issues across the food chain. also, india is bit of a unique situation. the average length of stay, the ministry of tourism reports it as 21 days, but i do know that on a long-haul destination, it is 16-17 days. thank god, we have now very clearly deﬁned hotels in the ﬁrst-class and so forth. for abercrombie and kent, in our knitting, we put out a new product. it is called ‘wings over india’. in keeping with the luxury landscape, you ﬂy scheduled into delhi, or mumbai, and you chartered from there on, across the country. for the want of having a plane coming from overseas and then taking it back is expensive, so we have launched ‘wings over india’. kapil chopra: that is a niche product. how many people does it do? it does, probably, 1000 people. kapil chopra: i am not going to let you go away with a pr speech. tell me two specific things you are doing to promote india. i am giving you. it is in keeping with what we do. other than that, when we are talking about otas and how they are competing with hotels, today we actually partner with all our hotels, and i am speaking about the larger tourism fraternity. what we are doing is we actually speak with our hotel partners really think that in ten years there will be hardly any destination management company, and you would be coming back to the hotel business? thank you, kapil, now that my job is almost marginalised. having said that, coming to your ﬁrst question, of course, we do, but in the larger scheme of things. and let me tell you in the ﬁrst session you had peter kerkar who gave us a plug. talked about companies like abercrombie and kent, cox & kings. most people who come to india, because india is quite an animal to tackle when you come on a holiday. it is not goa, sri lanka. it is not places where you just take a ﬂight in, enjoy, and ﬂy back. india is not like that. it is a little more complicated. there are many moments of truth in the country when you arrive. you build beautiful hotels, but for a guest, an international traveller to come to your hotel, they want to have different experience at different price-points. i can speak for ourselves. we curate holidays. we give them authentic experiences. some of the hallmarks of luxury, as you know, are experiences based. yes, they (aribnb and booking.com) are there. in the last session, binod spoke about dis-intermediation. of course, there is dis-intermediation, but i do believe that dmc’s role, currently, is not threatened because we are specialists. ten years down the line, who knows. but i do believe, with the complexities you face in our country, i am not so sure that our position gets totally eradicated. kapil chopra: when do we see city hotels consistently over 25000 rupees, for example – and that is less than us$ 400. most of the major cities for abercrombie and kent, in our knitting, we put out a new product. it is called ‘wings over india’. i do believe that dmc’s role, currently, is not threatened because we are specialists. to see what is the best available rate. we turn around very quickly, and put out offers through our distribution systems. for us, what are the traditional methods of bringing people into the country? so, you either bring in press trips; you bring in agents coming into the country. kapil chopra: so, basically you are doing nothing new to get people to india. they are coming anyways. they are going to stay in hotels. you can go on saying that kapil. there is only so much that an individual company can do. kapil chopra: so, you are getting in luxury business? how many of them are staying in samhi hotels? let me try and answer that, put things into perspective. we do about ten-twelve thousand passengers a year. average spend in india, in the luxury space, since kapil mentioned is about 750 us$ per person per night. that is the level of spend, but we also have business that is in the ﬁrst-class space, under a separate brand which will be around 250 us$ per person per night. that includes your hotels, transfers and sight-seeing, all the elements that go into making a holiday. kapil chopra: two great companies, out of the hotel ecosystem, both valued very richly, more valued than any other brand in this room, airbnb at 35 billion us$ and priceline’s booking.com at 65 billion dollars. so, you have got two giants who do not hold a single asset and yet try and control the ecosystem. both are self-sufficient portals, and both of them have moved from accommodation to experiences. what are you doing about it and do you feel any competition? and do you in the world have gone there. i think in resorts we are getting there. our resorts are comparably priced with pretty much anywhere in the world. but coming to city hotels, we charge less and also give away some of the free inclusions, there by threatening the very thread of profitability that hotels have in this country. what stops us from charging those prices and when do you think this will happen when it has to happen? i will try to answer that. i think perception of the destination also works towards adrs of hotels. dubai, london, paris, or new york have historically commanded a higher rate. also, because they have a large base of leisure travellers. dubai’s large part of business comes from leisure. commensurately, there are high-end restaurants, malls. they are totally different. look at las vegas. 3,00,000 rooms at last count in one city, running at 75% occupancy. they are totally different destinations. india’s perception, today, and i think that is the fundamental issue that we have, is that tourism is not our priority. i see nobody here from ministry of tourism. it is unfortunate that we are a hotels investors conference, nobody from the ministry is sitting here to understand what is going on here – and hospitality industry is the bedrock of tourism. if you do not have hotels, you cannot get high-end tourists into the country. for example, someone spoke about agra and one of your hotels is commanding a rate north of 1000 us$. it is incredible. it is because of supply and demand. it is a small hotel and happens to be facing the taj mahal. imagine having ﬁve hotels there and you cannot demand that price-point. there is a plethora of hotels to choose from now, in cities.
h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 13 foray in sri lanka logical after chennai; firming up of room rates already underway, says dipak haksar dipak haksar called itcs foray in sri lanka, colombo, a logical step after having thrown open itc grand chola in chennai. he also suggested that the downward spiral in room-rates was taking a turn for better after six years of blip, and the industry could be in for better days ahead in the luxury space. excerpts: kapil chopra: itc has never been in debt. it is well-funded, but why has itc not put up a luxury hotel like other chains who have rooms at 500-600 us$/night. when do we see an itc hotel where the consumer is paying 600 us$/night? let me ﬁrst say that every organisation has a strategy and it has to see how it wants to grow. itc came in sometime in the mid- 70s. at that point of time when we started expanding, we realised that you can either grow in numbers, or have a very sharp focus – and our focus at that point of time was that we needed to expand our footprint in business locations and cater to the business traveller at the highest spectrum of the segment in those markets. i think that was the whole challenge for us. over the years, what we have done is that we have achieved that footprint. we expanded ourselves; we augmented our capacity. in many cities we are dominating in terms of numbers. i think destinations and resorts have the potential to cater to those kinds of markets, and i think once we felt that we have done that, we said, ok let us go and build they are very unique and distinctive. they are not cookie-cutter kind of hotels that you see anywhere. they are rooted to the soil. we are very proud of those hotels. i think only itc that can build good hotels, grand hotels, and hotels like the itc grand chola. kapil chopra: your grand chola is running dry, currently serving 12 kinds of tea and 20 kinds of coffee. if you look at colombo, the city of colombo itself is seeing declining average room rates. to put in such a mega investment into colombo is kind of surprising. but you have done that in chennai which actually created a whole market in chennai. it could happen in colombo too. which other destinations is itc looking at? closer home, why do not we see you putting that kind of money, after goa, into an indian city, instead of colombo? i think we have about seven hotels in various stages of development, both, in the upper upscale and the luxury space. we are getting a hotel in coimbatore. by the end of the year, we are getting an itc narmada; we are getting an itc in kolkata. we are getting our ﬁrst chief executive officer hotels division, itc limited dipak haksar we are emerging from very bad six years of downturn and niche products in certain destinations can command prices over `30000, but it will be some time before city hotels are able to average those kinds of price-points. as the economy improves, as the propensity of the domestic traveller to pay is there, as there is a lot of business travel coming in those cities, you will find that prices come up. ,, the first objective was to build and become the largest luxury chain, focus on the business traveller. ourselves a hotel. itc grand bharat which has been rated best in asia, among the top ﬁve in the world, is an example, reﬂection of what we have done, and our vision of really having a hotel that is at the very high end of that spectrum. let me just say that the ﬁrst objective was to build and become the largest luxury chain, focus on the business traveller. and now, we are consolidating in the leisure space as well. kapil chopra: is that the game plan for itc to get into the luxury segment, because i think the leela started later than itc, and still they built some of the best luxury hotels in the country? the grand bharat still does not do 600 us$/night. itc is one of the largest operators in the luxury space. you take any one of our hotels, luxury hotel in ahmedabad. these are all locations where the work is already underway. kapil chopra: these are all mega hotels? no, they are not mega hotels. kolkata is another mega hotel. it will come to 500 rooms. almost the scale of itc grand chola. totally, there will be 700-plus rooms. hyderabad is going to be 300 rooms, sitting next to the trident. there is a lot of expansion plan. colombo was logical for us after having built such a large hotel in chennai, i think it made logical sense. if you look at the opportunities, colombo is one market which is showing growth, almost 14-15% in the last couple of years. what has happened is that the current mix, as i have been told, is largely in the 3 and 4-star, and that is where the supply has also come in. that is where the attrition is taking place. i do believe that, in the long-run, the luxury segment is up for grabs. more importantly, for us, it was important because it just one hour ﬂight from chennai – and a lot of indian trafﬁc goes, and recognises what we stand for. kapil chopra: was it beyond hotelering reason for you to go into colombo, because of itc, a diversified conglomerate investing into a different country for different reasons? for us, everything is a part of the strategy, and it is a very calibrated step in terms of how you should expand, and where you should expand. kapil chopra: when do we see city hotels consistently over `25,000, for example – and that is less than us$ 400. most of the major cities in the world have gone there. i think in resorts we are getting there. our resorts are comparably priced with pretty much anywhere in the world. but coming to city hotels, we charge less and also give away some of the free inclusions, there by threatening the very thread of profitability that hotels have in this country. what stops us from charging those prices and when do you think this will happen when it has to happen? no, i absolutely agree with rajiv, but let me add that i see ﬁrming up of prices. we are emerging from very bad six years of downturn and niche products in certain destinations can command prices over `30,000, but it will be some time before city hotels are able to average those kinds of price-points. as the economy improves, as the propensity of the domestic traveller to pay is there, as there is a lot of business travel coming in those cities, you will ﬁnd that prices come up. it is a question of demand and supply. i ﬁnd that even a three-star and four-star hotel in europe is charging 250-300 euros today, so considering our hotels they need to be priced at `25,000. yield has to go up, there is no question about it. the cost of managing a hotel is prohibitive. so, we need to do that. park plaza noida relaunches as radisson noida park plaza noida recently announced its rebranding to radisson noida, making it the first radisson hotel to be inaugurated in delhi ncr. i am delighted to welcome this hotel to the radisson brand family. delhi ncr is a key market for us and noida remains a promising ,, destination due to its thriving corporate suburb. we appreciate the investment that our strategic partner, bestech group have made in upgrading this hotel and the trust they have demonstrated in the radisson brand. ceo, south asia, carlson rezidor hotel group raj rana “we are proud to partner carlson rezidor hotel group in india and delighted to grow the relationship further, to develop radisson red and park inn by radisson across central and north india. we are committed to offer a differentiated experience at radisson noida and add value to experiential hospitality in ncr,” said sunil satija, managing director, bestech hospitalities. located within proximity of noida’s corporate hub as well as the central business districts of ghaziabad and new delhi, the hotel has completely reinvented itself to better serve its discerning guests with its signature yes i can! sm service philosophy. “i am delighted to welcome this hotel to the radisson brand family. delhi ncr is a key market for us and noida remains a promising destination due to its thriving corporate suburb. we appreciate the investment that our strategic partner, bestech group have made in upgrading this hotel and the trust they have demonstrated in the radisson brand” said raj rana, chief executive ofﬁcer, south asia, carlson rezidor hotel group. spread over 42,000 square feet, radisson noida features 88 contemporary rooms with modern amenities. rooms are bright and modern, complemented with led tvs, loungers and new upholstered furnishings. business class, a new room category, has been introduced for corporate travelers who can enjoy complimentary drinks in the lounge bar and more of such beneﬁts. “we have enjoyed working with carlson rezidor hotel group for 15 years where a high level of dedication and expertise is demonstrated in managing brands and hotels successfully. we are conﬁdent that the rebranding of park plaza noida to radisson noida with new facilities and services would be greatly appreciated by our guests” said dharmendra bhandari, managing director, bestech hospitalities.
14 h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 top hoteliers, investors scrutinize the state of real estate in the hospitality space disruption driving new models, forcing ecosystem to examine sustainability: binod chaudhary binod chaudhary remains confident of india as a business opportunity and envisages healthy growth in the mid-market and upscale segment of hotels. he also batted for constant introspection to remain relevant in a highly disruptive marketspace. by anagat choudhary nirupa: you have a massive portfolio of hotels across various brands. what do you plan to do with it in the future? do you want to continue investing in more hotels, do you plan to hold them, ipo it separately, or create a reit? we are a serious player in the hotel space and started some 20 years ago. our ﬁrst joint venture was with the taj, which we are very fond of even now. over the years, the portfolio has become very pre-diversiﬁed. while we continue to grow with taj in the high-end resort segment, we are also in the safari segment. we have now grown in to putting together a new outﬁt under the aegis of cg hotels which is actually a me this is the right time to invest but i do not see deals happening. so, let us wait and see what the future holds for us. nirupa: it is always interesting to hear entrepreneurial stories and you started your career in kathmandu with fabrics and now it has grown in to a massive empire with multiple verticals. what has been the hardest part about expanding and working in so many countries? where do you think the challenge lies in the future? we are a family who has been in nepal for 130 years now. my grandfather came from rajasthan but my father was born in nepal and so was i. i call myself a hardcore nepali of indian origin. you are right when you say that we have grown india has a huge shortage of good quality resort destinations and properties. but at the same time, i feel the whole landscape of the mid-scale to upper mid-scale is changing. combination of pulling in the mid-scale, upper mid-scale and upper scale properties, under different brands, in to one single portfolio. i am happy to say that now we are a company with 74 hotels under management. we are here in a serious way. we do not have any plans for an ipo as such and i think we need to allow it to grow. we want to be a much bigger player in india. actually, we want to put together an investment platform as everybody tells into a company which has multiple verticals. it was a conscious decision to be headquartered in nepal and build the ﬁrst nepali multi-national. the last thing people will think about when you talk about nepal would be business and that too creating a corporate structure which has dreams and visions of going global. but, comes with it a set of issues with regard to political stability, managing resources etc. it has been a tough but a very interesting journey buy and sell b2b and b2c. ready to use packages 21-23 september call: +91 97177 64717 email: [email protected] and i am happy to say that today we are actually present in more than 30 countries. the set of issues has been ﬁnding good talent and building successful projects in the most difﬁcult of places, nepal being one such place. i think that has sort of become our usp. nirupa: have you come across any exciting, disruptive and technology focussed ideas that can be applied to the hospitality or food and beverage space? we are in for a serious disruption in the hotel business. we can already see what platform like airbnb are doing. what took us years to build that process is happening overnight. the whole way you do business is changing. majority of the customers are reaching out to the properties directly binod chaudhary chairman, cg corp. global and it is creating a completely new format of doing business and that is going to grow. as a matter of fact, i see a situation where everybody needs to look at their business model. whether it is sustainable in the next 5-10 years time. the operators, investors, sales and marketing teams, all intermediaries need to look at it. i think we are in for some very interesting times. nirupa: you have ventures in various different businesses. which is the industry where you are seeing maximum growth? it all depends on how you look at it. i see a lot of money being put in to hotels which never seems to come back. the value increases only for those who can emotionally disassociate with projects. i have learnt in the last 20 years time that in the hotel business, the only time you make money is when you sell. if you want to stay in it, it is virtually like a bottomless pit where everybody including the operators, management teams etc. all want you to go on pumping in the money and you also sometimes ﬁnd out reasons to put in more money. having said that, this is one business i would never give up even at the cost of cannibalising other business opportunities. i think we will have to learn how to be less emotional and start generating cash ﬂow. nirupa: a trend currently emerging in the hotel space? i deﬁnitely think that people are realising that there is great business to be done by opening new destinations for leisure. in fact, india has a huge shortage of good quality resort destinations and properties. but at the same time, i feel the whole landscape of the mid-scale to upper mid-scale is changing. because of the inﬂux of international brands, i think the local companies are gearing the whole way you do business is changing. majority of the customers are reaching out to the properties directly and it is creating a completely new format of doing business and that is going to grow. as a matter of fact, i see a situation where everybody needs to look at their business model. whether it is sustainable in the next 5-10 years time. the operators, investors, sales and marketing teams, all intermediaries need to look at it.,, up to put together the right setup, product parameters, element of style, costs etc. i see huge growth prospects in that segment and i do not think that it is wrong to say that majority of the operators, including those international ones are eyeing this segment. nirupa: one key lesson that you have learnt in the past that you plan to implement in the future? i think as far as possible one should refrain from getting in to greenﬁeld ventures. call the assets distressed, or misplaced, or whatever but try to ﬁnd a space in that segment and then reposition it. i think that is the best and the most comfortable position to be in. nirupa: what drives you and what kind of impact would you want to leave on the hospitality world. when we started 20 years ago, we wanted to start with the taj in nepal but my destiny took me to sri lanka. i have always felt that sometimes you are led by events which are not under your control. after having done pretty well in other spaces to do a hotel was a dream without realising that there is a lot of hard work that has to go in to it. the glamour factor that is associated with the hotel business is a very tiny little component when it comes to the brass tags. it is a sector which is capable of pulling the whole system down if you do not know how to manage it well. so, i would say that after coming through the hardships, today when i look back, i think if you manage this space well, it is a great industry to be in but just do not venture in to it because of the glamour factor. in every entrepreneur, there is a dreamer and when you see that dream taking shape and when you are able to put together the building blocks, it is a great feeling to be in that space. that is what drove me.
h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 15 investors must remain businessman and refrain from donning the hat of a developer: ashish jakhanwala speaking to nirupa shankar, director, brigade hospitality, ashish jakhanwala shared his insight on the art of investment. he advocated adopting a pragmatic strategy to maximise return on investment in the hospitality sector, refraining from involving in the development of project, leaving it to professionals. excerpts from the session titled “the future of hotel real estate”. nirupa: when you started samhi, you were keen to do greenfield projects. so, when you went out to raise funds, was it a hard sell, was it an easy one, or were you just a good seller? i do not think that it was a sob-story. for us it was a very simple theme. a lot of investors like india because of a really long growth story, whether it is 6% or 8%, one can debate, but it is a long growth story. one of the problems was a poor governance structure. people were very uncomfortable putting money in operating companies because they did not get the governance structure to comfort them. a lot of institutional investors are ready to take the market risk but they are very reluctant to take governance risk. it is really difﬁcult for them to take that risk, and here was a company which said, we have a management team which knows the business. we are offering a governance structure which is very similar to a public company. this meant that the investor had a pretty realistic view of what is happening on the ground. i think that gave them a lot of conﬁdence to invest. secondly, we were counter cyclical. i went raising money in a year when nobody wanted to come to india and my ﬁrst investor was none other than sam zell. back then he could see through the opportunity that india is a market which has two decades of growth. the problem is that you end up paying for that growth upfront because of the asset prices being really high, but hopefully with the market cycles correcting, you are buying two decades of growth at a realistic prices. so, 21 months, your formule1s are getting built out in i think 13-15 months. what are you doing right? i have been a part of horror stories about project delays and cost over runs and i was always surprised, because i could see microsofts’ and googles’ making millions of square feet of ofﬁce spaces and there was no panel discussion about cost over and time delays. and when it came to hoteliers and developers, who are supposed to be experts at doing those jobs, every panel discussion was about cost overs and time delays. there was a simple reason which meant that we had a problem. so, all we did is we disassociated with that process because we realised that the problem lies with us. i have a 32-member team which runs the entire business and there is not one person in projects. for us, we act like microsoft. we get a speciﬁcation of a building based on the negotiation we have with the operator; we ﬁnalise that speciﬁcation and the budget through a formal qs process and after that we outsource every single thing. i personally think i am colour-blind, so when the ceo is colour-blind, hotels get built faster because the ceo is not sitting in a meeting saying i think i need a different purple here. i think we need to see ourselves as businessmen and not as developers, designers, contractors etc. our core business is to deploy capital and i think the moment you disassociate yourself with the construction process, efﬁciencies are better and as i said we have picked the model of a microsoft who are building millions of square feet of ofﬁce spaces in india and these were the quicker we build, the cheaper it is for us even if we have spent more. if we can save one year, it is priceless. it is priceless for the financing cost and the impaired cost of equity. i do not think hard assets will ever be sold at 7% yield in india. because at 7% yield, you start servicing interest and the moment a hotel owner starts servicing interest in india, he will never sell it. i think for us it was a thematic investment. we did not have twenty investors, we only had two of them to begin with. investors believed in the management team, they believed in the governance and they believed in the fact that the cycle allows to buy assets well. nirupa: you have close to 4000 keys now. plans for a reit anytime soon? do you want to beat the commercial real estate market with a hospitality reit? there are two things here. first of all, we need to see the interest rates rationalising in the country because the reit investor expects a benchmark yield in terms of the interest rates of the market. if the interest rates are at 11-12%, clearly there is no fun for all of us to put up assets on the reit. so, rationalising of interest rates is essential and we are already seeing that happen now. the second thing is that we are at the bottom of the cycle, or we hope to be at the bottom of the cycle. i would like to be an elegant reit participant which means i am not selling high growth stories to my retail investors and for which i need to allow my assets to mature. we need to play our part of stabilising our portfolio ﬁrst, ensuring that we are not selling too much of growth and proceed only once we reach that spot, which by the way is questionable sometimes in india because there is always a growth story embedded in everything. i will wait and watch out. nirupa: you have had some success in building hotels quickly, i think you had your hyatt place, which was done in platinum buildings, high grade buildings and they never complained, so why are we complaining? i think efﬁciencies can be brought in. there is frustration and when you add the pre-construction and the post-construction issues then, 2 years will become 3 years. i think there are ways to do it better but we are learning. nirupa: as a follow up to that, pace comes at a price. you can afford to outsource everything which is a pricier option but microsoft and google are not asking what is my roi on my office space. they are able to outsource everything and not have too many discussions on cost. is it about having deeper pockets than developers who have to answer to funds? i think more ceos have lost their jobs for share prices in tech companies than hotel companies. i think it would be incorrect to say that in tech companies or ofﬁces, the ceo is not responsible for return on capital employed. pace has a value but in our sector, it is the opposite. the quicker we build, the cheaper it is for us even if we have spent more. i think we are fully aware of the fact that we are not necessarily juicing the last penny but the fact is if we can save one year, it is priceless. it is priceless for the ﬁnancing cost, the impaired cost of equity and it is priceless due to the fact that you launch a hotel earlier on and can ramp up faster. so, i really feel that in the end you have to look at return on capital employed and that is better served by sometimes paying up a little more. i can negotiate the value of timber but if i do not understand i personally think i am colour-blind, so when the ceo is colour- blind, hotels get built faster because the ceo is not sitting in a meeting saying i think i need a different purple here. i think we need to see ourselves as businessmen and not as developers, designers, contractors are better.,, etc. our core business is to deploy capital and i think the moment you disassociate yourself with the construction process, efficiencies ashish jakhanwala managing director & ceo, samhi the value of time then i think i am fooling myself. nirupa: i think a lot of us have been to these conferences multiple times and a lot of times we have seen that we discuss these topics and hash them out every year but sometimes i personally feel that this industry needs some massive disruption, especially in terms of technology. maybe, we need to use technology more to our advantage in terms of either operations, construction etc. so, what is the most exciting disruptive technology that you have come across in the real estate space? i have always said that it is an asset heavy, low iq business. the biggest technology that we have talked about is a heat pump. every time i meet a gm, i ask him what has been your biggest achievement in the last 12 months and the answer is mostly heat pumps. the reality is that we are waking too late to technology. we are still a farming community so, when i look at a technology company i do feel that they are challenging the status quo. we have not even changed the rooms. it is the same bed, the same bath; we keep changing the colour and calling them by different names but we have not innovated the hotel product itself for the last many years. if you ask us about claiming that we are extremely innovative in technology, we are not. nirupa: what about you in terms of return on your investments? your model went from greenfields to buying out hotels, refurbishing, rebranding etc. and when you buy a property, you save on time but it probably comes to you at a slightly more expensive cost per key. so, are you able to say today where you see better returns or have you been able to see higher returns in any one model? most hotels in our portfolio which are now more than 3 years, we are starting to see unlivered returns touching double digits which is very encouraging. i was listening to a panel discussion this morning where some institutional investors said that we would like to see assets being bought at 7% yield in india. i do not think hard assets will ever be sold at 7% yield in india. because at 7% yield, you start servicing interest and the moment a hotel owner starts servicing interest in india, he will never sell it. so, invariably you have to buy assets which unfortunately on an excel sheet appear to be low yield on acquisition and one may say you are a fool to buy something at a 5% or lower yield but what we look at is the intrinsic value of the asset and if the yield can be enhanced. we do that through only buying displaced assets. i think people use the wrong word while saying that we like to buy distressed assets. it is not distressed but displaced assets that we look to buy. the displacement could be poor product, wrong brand, poor management team or poor capital structure. in a lot of cases it is even all of it. we go in and ﬁx all of these things one by one and we know for sure without relying on the market arbitrage that we are creating enough operating arbitrage to move the yields to 8-10%. it is not dependant on segment. clearly it has been proved that the budget hotels are more high cash and cash yields but i think we have really seen a good buying environment in the 2-3 years. nirupa: a trend currently emerging in the hotel space? i think more nps and more sales. nirupa: one key lesson that you have learnt in the past that you plan to implement in the future? i think it is important to stay away from deal fever. i have learnt the hard way that investments are not about doing the right deal. it is about not doing the wrong deal. if i look back at the last 2 decades, i realise i should have just focussed on not doing the wrong deals and the right deals would have happened by themselves. we are so focussed on doing the right deal that the deal fever catches on. nirupa: what drives you and what kind of impact would you want to leave on the hospitality world. i think for me what drives me is the fact that i think we have all been frustrated about the sob stories about hotels in india. i just hope, and we are working hard, that we are probably a story where we are proud of having returned the capital to our shareholders and giving them a very solid return. we are a company and not a fund so what will be more beautiful is to give them the capital and return and leave behind a great hotel company for a longer time. i think i slog for that and when i lose track of it, i have my board and shareholders to drive me hard every day and not let me sleep. and the other thing is i think this is the ﬁrst time a pure professional team has attempted to be in the hard asset business. typically, you were bank rolled and this is the ﬁrst time we have a public company kind of a situation where a management team is driving a hard asset business. i think for all of us it is important that our legacy is a ﬁnancial success. that i think will be the differentiator and the disruptor in this industry.
16 h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 go back to basic to build faster: arun saraf arun saraf detailed the advantages of keeping the development process simple by reducing the number of consultants involved in a project. nirupa: you started off with one hotel in nepal and now you have close to 3,000 keys with plans to go up to 5,000 keys by 2020. what are your future plans and what do you plan to do with the hotel portfolio? well, we are not a listed company primarily, although we do have one listed company. this has been my family business and so for the last 40 years the family has been building hotels. we have a very great partnership with hyatt. so, we have a good backup to take us forward, so we can concentrate on the development part and we have a management team backing us up wholeheartedly. going forward we will continue to do what we are doing which is building a hotel and launching a project every year. we do not have a concept or any desire to cover all of india. we are a slow developer and shall continue development at our own pace. most of our funding is private funding and we do not at this moment have any direct plans to go out. i am looking forward to some successful reits and maybe at some stage we will convert our own assets in to reits as well. nirupa: i was reading that your hyatt regency in delhi, which was 550 rooms, took only 2 years to build. if you could build a 550-room hotel in 2 years back in 1982, why does it seem like an impossible task today? where are we going wrong in today’s development of hotels? if you really look at it, the environment has changed, especially the regulatory environment. that hotel was the largest hotel being built in delhi at that time. the land was bought in september of 1980 and there was a deadline of asian games in november of 1982. so, the whole infrastructure, the government, everybody was actually assisting you to achieve your goal. most importantly we did not have multiple consultants. you had a main consultant and an interior designer and everything came out of that. these guys actually sat on the site and reacted to the needs of the site almost on a daily basis. so, there was a kind of an effort and the time was different, expectations were different and people were not so busy, especially consultants, or operators. now we have so many people involved in a project that it unnecessarily becomes much more complex than it needs to be. i think keeping in context today’s times, we need to go back to the basics and start reducing the number of consultants. nirupa: what is the most exciting disruptive technology that you have come across in the real estate space? technology is pervasive. it is everywhere and the evolution in technology is what is changing our space too. hoteliering is a basic need of a human being in the sense that we are serving people’s food needs, sleep needs, recreational needs and all these basic needs. but how do we serve them? there is innovation that is coming now in terms of technology, how we reach a customer, ensuring that the customer gets the experience he or she is looking forward to, making sure that the service is much more efﬁcient and so forth. if you look at 20 years back, the technology component of a developer, or an operating cost was maybe 2%. now if you look at the technological cost of running a hotel, it is reaching almost 7-8% if you begin with the operating systems and keep going forward. technology now has become so important even in our own business that it is going to be the differentiator. i can almost see that technology will take away the need for us to hospitality is an operational business: siddhartha gupta unlike any other real estate ventures, hospitality projects are a day-to- day undertaking and require constant decision making to stay profitable. nirupa: talking about my story of talking to investors and having to defend why we were developing greenfield hotels, that obviously changed once the reit regulations relaxed couple of years ago. why have we not seen a reit yet? when do you think it will happen? we deﬁnitely pushed for it but we never took the responsibility of being the ﬁrst one. i think we have got all the regulations in place only lately. one of the important aspects of reit, from the investors’ point of view, that we have seen worldwide, is the cash lead. that is why the few tax amendments that had to happen have happened only in the last 3-4 months. i would not be able to comment on the time line though but if you ask me i would say that in the next 3 years, i see at least 6 reits in india. nirupa: talking about technology and its impact on growth, how does the indian real estate market compare with other well performing key growth markets for blackstone? the world is obviously not witnessing a lot of growth. us and europe have been struggling to reach even the 2% mark. it is only china that has grown and in the last 2 years even china has slowed down as compared to india. the world looks at us when it is about growth. obviously, we have our own risks in the form of interest rates and currency, which are in many ways linked as well. in investing, there is the picture and there are pixels. the picture is deﬁnitely very bright because obviously, india is a place where all the growth is. talking about pixels, as i said that we have been doing ofﬁce because we like ofﬁce. the supply has been waning and the demand has been constant, irrespective of what happens in india because our ofﬁce demand is driven largely by the fact that it companies are growing and also a lot of companies are opening their back-end, or mid-end operations in india. so, in terms of pixels, ofﬁce is doing well, retail is booming and we can see a turnaround in hospitality. nirupa: i think blackstone has been interested in investing into hospitality but i do not think that a deal has happened yet. why is that? are you being too picky? you are right that we have been scouting for hospitality opportunities for the last couple of years as fundamentals improve, though at a very slow pace. we have not been able to do anything and that is largely because of what i mentioned earlier, which has been mentioned many a times, that if i am a seller, i want to sell it on a replacement cost basis. and as an institutional buyer who is a ﬁnancial buyer and not an ego, or a long-term buyer, they want to value it on a cash ﬂow basis. till the time your asset performance does not match up to your replacement cost basis which is typically your land value, it is very difﬁcult for ﬁnancial investors to make sense of it unless you are in the business of buy, ﬁx and sell where you are actually buying a non-stabilised hotel thinking that you will ﬁx it and stabilise it and then turn it around and sell it. so, either you roll your sleeves up, dirty your hands and really ﬁx it, then you can make the trade. otherwise, it is very difﬁcult to buy hotel assets on cash ﬂow basis. now the customer can reach us directly and see us on the internet or on our web pages. the whole world of hoteliering is ready for a major disruption. i can see that expedia is now valued more than all the hotels combined. all these are the precursors to what is going to come. this is a wake up call for us developers, hoteliers and brands. i think all of us need to really re-focus on this space and how it is going to change our world. ,, arun saraf managing director, grand hyatt mumbai brand our properties. branding was done because we wanted to reach a customer and tell them who and what we are through the brand. now the customer can reach us directly and see us on the internet or on our web pages. the whole world of hoteliering is ready for a major disruption. i can see that expedia is now valued more than all the hotels combined. all these are the precursors to what is going to come. this is a wake up call for us developers, hoteliers and brands. i think all of us need to really re-focus on this space and how it is going to change our world. nirupa: which industry would you say has the maximum growth potential in the future? to be honest, i have seen the maximum growth in hospitality and that is why we are building more and more. we are a family owned business, so families are generally diversiﬁed. so, we do not stay in one business like a fund, or a corporate entity. you have to see us as differently. in terms of growth and in terms of focus, it continues to be hospitality and i think hospitality is something we all enjoy. there is enough space here to grow and basically, we have to keep our costs and leveraging right and we will be ok. nirupa: a trend currently emerging in the hotel space? the trend is going to be much more lifestyle hotels which will be away from the established norms that we saw. you will see much crispier, sharper and contemporary hotels. nirupa: one key lesson that you have learnt in the past that you plan to implement in the future? do not leave a decision for tomorrow, take it today. we are not here to make quick money that i want to buy a hotel today and flip it around in 3 years. we are very happy to hold for even 7 years, if required. anything more than that would be difficult and always remember that hotels get hit the hardest when the cycle turns. so, in that sense in terms of the risk profile of all the real estate assets class, it is the hotels which actually run on a day-to-day business. in many ways, it is not even a real estate business and is an operating one. ,, managing director real estate, the blackstone group siddhartha gupta we are not here to make quick money that i want to buy a hotel today and ﬂip it around in 3 years. we are very happy to hold for 5-6 years and even 7 years, if required. anything more than that would be difﬁcult and always remember that hotels get hit the hardest when the cycle turns. so, in that sense in terms of the risk proﬁle of all the real estate assets class, which is residential, ofﬁce, retail, warehousing and hotels, it is the hotels which actually run on a day to day business. in many ways, it is not even a real estate business and is an operating one. you are taking a call on a day to day basis, not like an ofﬁce where you have signed with a tenant and you are rest assured that for 3 years he, or she is not going anywhere. propensity to spend by the middle income, to go out on holidays. these days the propensity to spend by our middle class is really undergoing a sea change. i see a lot of scope for leisure hotels. secondly, i would watch out for companies like airbnb which have so far had very minimal impact in india, the impact being seen in us and europe. how that plays out at some point of time will be interesting to see. nirupa: what drives you and what kind of impact would you want to leave on the hospitality world. we have not even done our ﬁrst pure play hospitality investment in india so it is a tough one but if i have to dream, maybe what we did with hilton when we acquired it 10 years back at the peak of 2007, how we turned around that story, if we can have that opportunity in india, that would be a huge driving factor. nirupa: so what is an acceptable payback period for an investment in to hospitality for you? nirupa: a trend currently emerging in the hotel space? i think there are two. one is obviously the
h ote l s + re sorts 17 hotelivate takes stock of what it takes to get the project right, from the start hotelivate gives a bird’s eye view of the plethora of causes for delay in a hotel development project and how to get them right since their inception. the leadership at hotelivate give a detailed insight. excerpts: by cyril jacob, md, pepa, hotelivate & megha tuli, co-founder & executive director, hotelivate c ost over-runs on hotel projects have been common across the region. however, a look at cost data collected from various hotels built in india over the years reveals a certain homogeneity in construction costs for similar hotel products. rather than cost over-runs, this points indeed to a poor budgeting process in the initial conceptual and design phase of hotel projects, overoptimistic cost projections, and overdesigned hotels. under-budgeting leads to lower return on equity than originally thought and difﬁculty to service debt. evidence shows that it also leads to construction delays and poor quality, all further contributing to higher idc and eventually a non-performing asset or even ﬁnancial distress. indeed, with the current practice of starting works before the design is complete, the reckoning of ‘cost over-runs’ only comes late in the construction process when, in fact, most of the costs have already been built into the areas constructed. this late ‘wake-up call’ typically leads to hurried re-design of interior spaces, delays in award of works, idle contractors for lack of drawings, purchase of sub-standard materials and, most importantly, award of works to unqualiﬁed contractors at unsustainable rates. poor quality will affect not only the guest experience and the hotel revenues, but can also drive the hotel energy bill and maintenance costs to unsustainable levels. our survey has also revealed another hidden cost in poor hotel planning. very often, there is a disconnect between the initial market survey and its revenue-mix recommendations and the actual spaces kerala is “india’s favourite waterfront destination”: holidayiq (l-r) hari nair, founder & ceo, holidayiq.com and jitendra singh, union minister of state for pmo presented the holidayiq better holiday award for “india’s favorite waterfront destination” for alleppey to dr. venu v, principal secretary, kerala tourism. kerala tourism was, recently, voted as ‘india’s favourite waterfront destination’ for alleppey by the holidayiq better holiday awards. the award was presented to dr. venu v, ias, principal secretary, kerala tourism by jitendra singh - union minister of state for pmo & ministry of development of north eastern region presented this. also in attendance were priyank khagre (hon’ble minister of state for tourists & it, government of karnataka), umang bedi (facebook, md), among others. speaking on the occasion, dr. venu v, ias principal secretary, kerala tourism said, “it is an honor to receive an award which recognises the efforts of the tourism department. this award reiterates the popularity of the state tourism as it was chosen by over 15 crore indian travellers. kerala tourism department is always keen in implementing new and innovative ideas and projects for the growth of kerala as the best destination.” he further added that foreign and domestic tourists’ arrival to kerala had increased by 6.23% and 5.67% respectively, in 2016, demonstrating the increasing popularity of kerala as one of the preferred tourist destinations of india. alleppey, or alappuzha is famous across the world for its vast scenic undulating network of freshwater lakes, lagoons, canals, and rivers that comprise the backwaters. owing to the growing popularity of this destination, it has found increasing traction among indians and foreigners alike. case study one and a half years into planning a hotel project, our client came to us with approved plans and drawings. the hotel operator had just come on board and given its mandated checklist of minimum requirements for its mid-market hotel brand. a renowned architect was on the team and the project was primed to go into design development. we were brought in as project advisors and our ﬁndings were as below: ◗ a gross area per room of 134 sq. m. while mid-market hotels are in the range of 65-75 sq. m. per room; ◗ 46% of non-revenue generating areas in the approved plans and designs; ◗ estimated cost per bay of inr 1.1 cr. whereas a typical mid-market hotel should be around inr 0.60 cr. per bay; ◗ several functional issues, that include restaurant layout in relation to number of rooms and expected house count, lack of elevators near key outlets, designed. costs are often cut by reducing the size or the functionality of genuine revenue- generating areas (e.g. meeting rooms) whilst other non-revenue or lowrevenue generating spaces (e.g. f&b) are over-designed. operational costs later soar as much as capital costs. did you know: ◗ unlike a cost per bay (standard room module), the cost per key will vary depending on the ratio of suites to rooms even though the overall hotel cost remains unchanged. ◗ the cost per bay can vary by up to 30% depending on the number of rooms, the size of f&b and public areas, the shape of the land, the local by-laws, and soil conditions. ◗ 70% of construction costs lie in the total area built and hence can’t be reduced after the concept design is ﬁnalised. then, one might wonder, why are so many hotels planned and designed on the simplistic and false principle of a cost per key, which has not been under-written by anyone or conﬁrmed by any technical feasibility study? if the hotel operator is on board early enough, its technical services team will surely draw the owner’s attention to the risk of over-building – however, the operator’s attention is on gop whilst the owner’s incentive is roe. a fancy specialty restaurant may marginally improve gop and the hotel brand, but damage roe. planning and designing the right hotel is difﬁcult enough for a green-ﬁeld development but it becomes particularly complex for a brown-ﬁeld or a conversion project. estimating the cost of works to complete a partly-built hotel or the cost of works associated with the property improvement plan (pip) of a running property requires a thorough technical due inadequate storage space, and guest and service crossings. ultimately, the plans had to be completed redesigned with a fresh and clear project brief in order to make the project feasible. the results were: ◗ public areas were reduced to increase the overall efﬁciencies in the design. the gross area per bay was reduced to 72 sq. m. ◗ revenue generating areas were increased by 11% by adding meeting rooms and additional grab-and-go f&b options. ◗ budgeted cost per bay was frozen at inr 0.70 cr. (due to a low room inventory) as a result of reduced public areas. a cost saving of 25% was achieved just by rethinking the area allocation. ◗ functionality issues were corrected based on each specialised consultant’s inputs. diligence. it is a complex balancing act of the building’s technical limitations and the new owner’s business objectives. hotel development is complex in nature and solid expertise is needed, most of all in the early stages of planning and development, the lack of which will most deﬁnitely result in cost over-runs and ultimately poor ﬁnancial returns for the project. with this in mind, hotelivate and ascentis have brought together their respective business and technical expertise to offer advice to prospective hotel owners in those critical ﬁrst months of development, with four major objectives: ◗ to conﬁrm the technical feasibility of the hotel programme envisaged in the marketing feasibility and ensure its cost meets the roi objectives of the business plan; ◗ to get the right team of consultants on board to design the hotel; ◗ to lead the concept design phase to develop a hotel that not only meets all the objectives of the business plan for costs and revenue-generating areas, but also outperforms its competitors with a superior guest-experience and higher revpar; ◗ to prepare a project execution plan which will form the baseline for costs, timelines, and quality. 70% of construction costs lie in the total area built and can’t be changed after the concept design is ﬁnalised the pepa services play a critical role in the timely and cost efﬁcient completion of hotel projects. along with detailed planning and proactive management of risks and opportunities, we build effective relationships with all project stakeholders to leverage their expertise and produce innovative solutions that build value for the project and our client’s business.
18 h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 hoteliers express hope on an upward tick in room rates, mull the way forward top hoteliers and new-age players discussed the state of room rates in india and expressed hope in change in fortunes after a lull lasting half a decade. excerpts of the proceedings of the session titled “why are we struggling with room rates” at the recently concluded hicsa held in mumbai. by shashank shekhar the general trend on room rates in india in the past couple of years and where it seems heading sanjay sethi: chief executive officer and md, chalet hotel/ k raheja corp.: let us begin with understanding what your insights are on room rates in india over the last couple of years. and this year, and year after? ajay bakaya: managing director, sarovar hotels and resorts: i think it will remain challenging for the next year or so. we moved from a scenario, some years ago, when you had your annual inventory, or negotiations once a year. and twice a year, perhaps, if you were in a leisure location. now it is an everyday scenario and last minute scenario. a buyer has a good look at what is available all the time. he does not need to tie in for any length of time. he gets good deals all the time. there is plenty available. you are restricted by the virtue of rfp; you are restricted by the virtue of what you can do with otas around. there is very strong elasticity to pricing. we just negotiated two of our biggest contracts and it was public that our ceo arnie sorenson took a very hard stand. basically, at one point, we were looking to go dark with one of the biggest otas and the focus there was that we wanted to negotiate on our terms, and have the right to be able to market to our members better rate. we wanted to have the right to continue to yield manage and, obviously, negotiate the commission structure.,, our view is that rate is one thing that we want to bring down. the intention is that we do not want to do it just for the fun of it, but continue to deliver innovative solutions like sunrise check-ins, additional food through the day, so that you can get the right amount of money from the guest which is a fair price, but at the same time introduce a lot of first- time customers to the formal ecosystem of hotel brand. ,, coo – asia pacific (ex. greater china), marriott inc. rajeev menon ritesh agarwal founder and ceo, oyo so, i think there is a challenge. it is a biggish one. we have been blessed with good occupancies over the last 4-5 years. converting them into good rates in the business markets is going to remain challenging for the next twelve months, at least. sanjay sethi: chinmai, you are the chief revenue officer here. what is your insight on room rates in india? chinmai sharma, chief revenue ofﬁcer, taj hotels palaces resorts safaris: so, at taj we have started to push the envelope as much as we can. unfortunately, we have not seen any kind of reaction, or support from the market. what we feel is that it is a self-inﬂicted issue, because we understand supply-demand will always play a role in terms of what price can the market bear. but if the industry is conﬁdent of the product and services we deliver, and we feel that they should be able to command the right price. especially with our category of hotels, throughout the world, we are in the bottom 15 markets. india is no different. the labour cost has, obviously, gone up. cost of real estate is probably in the top 10-15 markets. so, our cost structure is not any different any more, as it used to be many years ago. so, we have tried our best. we have given beaten goa and a number of other resorts that we track around the country. they have generally driven rate at a much higher pace than city hotels. the opportunity now, really, is in the major markets. i think occupancies went up last year. there was an overall growth in revpar. the demand remains fairly strong this year. first quarter remains very evident in terms of what the demands are. i see, our business, legacy starwood and legacy marriott, running in mid to high-seventies. so, as a result of that there is deﬁnitely an opportunity for us to continue on to push on those rates and that is where we see it. sanjay sethi: peter, we would love to hear your views on that. in addition to that, as raj mentioned, some of our cities are now clocking 75% occupancy. yet we are under-performing on the rate front. mumbai, for example, is trading at 120-150 usd for the upper upscale and luxury market. where do you think we are going wrong? peter fulton, group president – eame and sw asia, hyatt hotels corp.: we have a problem. we do not believe in ourselves. as an industry, i think, we need to get our act together and say that we expect our customer to pay a fair price for the product that we are going to deliver. the cost of real estate is probably in the top 10-15 markets. so, our cost structure is not any different any more, as it used to be many years ago. a buyer has a good look at what is available all the time. there is very strong elasticity to pricing. more conﬁdence to the sales team. we have told them that walk away from accounts if you have to, because after a certain point it does not really make any sense. hopefully, we will not go bankrupt as airlines before we realise that enough is enough and we need to do something. so, at least, in our company we have taken away inclusions which were given for free. why should we give free breakfast, free transfers and free ofﬁce drops? so, we just have to take the lead and, hopefully, deliver some proﬁtability. sanjay sethi: raj, you have one of the biggest portfolios in the country. people now look up to marriott to drive the rate strategy in india as a whole. what are your views on that and how do you think you can deliver on this? rajeev menon, chief operating ofﬁcer – asia paciﬁc (ex. greater china), marriott inc.: in my belief, in the last couple of years, leisure destinations have actually outperformed cities when it comes to rates. you look at resorts. they, generally, have largest customers out there who are buying, some of the corporates who come up and say that we want to pay you a rate of `4000 for a ﬁve-star deluxe room. it does not happen in many other markets of the world. then we are going to add breakfast, transfers and ofﬁce transfers, and whatever else because i want to get that piece of business from my competitor just around the corner. we do not have a lot of faith in the product that we are delivering. we do not have a lot of faith in pricing. occupancies, if we look at the ﬁrst quarter and the last quarter of the last year, are very strong, and i think we need to be a little bit more together in how we really approach pricing. we have got no commitment. summer comes same time every year; same thing happens every year and down she goes! sanjay sethi: there was an article on this in a newspaper where i had suggested that when it comes to rates, we have been shooting ourselves in the foot over there. we have been so much under pressure over the last 8-10 years
h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 19 few years, would you now give revenue managers a lead in decision-making, in terms of strategy here onwards? how will you empower your revenue managers? shantha de silva: again, it is a mindset change of how we manage our business. we are empowering and enabling our revenue managers to be able to take those decisions. that is why we have a very robust training and certiﬁcation program which they can go through to have that capability and conﬁdence to take that decision. that combined with analytical tools that we provide them, we are enlarging their roles to make them key decision makers for revenue, rather than having the sales and different than the rest of the pack over here. we would love to hear from you on rate strategies and where do you think rates are heading for your kind of business? also, we would love to hear from you in where the rest of the panel is going wrong on their rate strategy. ritesh agrawal: i guess i have a lot to learn myself. i started oyo. it operates two brands. one in the budget segment, in the price-point of 25-30 usd/night, and close to 70,000 keys across the country. another is a mid-market brand which is called oyo townhouse in the price-point of 50-60 usd/night. coming to your question, our view of the world is, especially in our segment, primarily budget segment, we see that while the supply is revenue management is far more complicated than just a computer program and a person who sits there. it is a set of business practices that cross the scope of the management of the hotel. taking away consumer proposition for keeping the same price is a wrong strategy. that it has become a habit. thereby, still creating what should today be a seller’s market a buyer’s market. it is one the biggest challenges we face. shantha, what is your view on that? shantha de silva, head - sw asia, intercontinental hotels group: india has seen a growth in demand over the last three years. it is good to see the market stabilising and occupancy levels reaching above sixty percent over the last couple of years. we also have a growing portfolio of hotels which has pretty much doubled over the last three year, and with that growth we have been positioning our hotels to drive the advantage forward. what we have seen as one of the biggest changes we need to have in the industry is the change of mindset. i think we are not used to be on the front foot, taking advantage of demand factors that are there in the market and driving that advantage forward. i think internally we need to look at how we need to take advantage of the demand factors to drive rates. so, what we have been doing at ihg to address this issue is two-pronged. we have industry leading technology. we have our own rate revenue management system which gives dynamic rates every couple of seconds to make sure that our pricing strategy is set well in the market. that is how it helps in driving the rate advantage, but on the other hand, we also believe that we need to build up revenue management capability across our hotels. we have started programs from campus levels to educate, train and groom revenue mangers, and also give them tools and resources through training and certiﬁcation programs. these two together, with the growing demand in india, we are conﬁdent that we will be able to drive home rate opportunities even further. sanjay sethi: you have mentioned revenue management as a key initiative. in today’s market, and i strongly believe that it is a seller’s market for the next challenge – i call it a double-whammy – where the economy was very sluggish and there was considerable supply, about 3-5 years ago, and as a result there was a lot of panic. we have seen this in other markets around the world. the dynamics has shifted now. the economy is on the up and there is a considerable level of optimism on india from outside india and within india, and we also see, as a result, a considerable growth in demand. on the supply side, however, the supply increase is not as much as it was only a few years ago. so, this now genuinely represents an opportunity for revenue teams to go granular and look each market in the most micro- market situation, and start to push the needle of rate. i remain reasonably buoyant about the next few years in india. sanjay sethi: peter, wearing your india hat for a bit, mumbai is trading at 77.5% occupancy last year. at that occupancy, and if you compare with other cities that are trading at that occupancy, our upper upscale hotels are going at 120- 150 usd. what do you think is the right price-point for a city like mumbai to be trading at for adrs when you look at it from other cities in your portfolio? peter fulton: i think that is really an interesting question. if you look at a place like paris, it was, for the previous ten years, trading at 400 euros as an average rate for the upper upscale. that has come down to low 300s now after everything that happened last year. i think the opportunity in mumbai to push that rate up to `12000-14000… we are always compromised by seasonality and what happens over the summer, but i think as the market continues to grow, with the optimism that we are talking about, getting some consistency into the ﬁnances of the country, there is some tremendous opportunity here in mumbai for us to get the rates up there. another thing that is really relevant is getting the segmentation in the properties. we have done a lot of work here, particularly in this hotel (grand hyatt mumbai), driving segmentation and making sure that we are getting the right yield for the type of business that we are trying to put in, and utilising the resources that the hotel has to drive total revenue, not necessarily rate. sanjay sethi: because you mentioned segmentation, the largest chunk of city hotel business comes from corporate contracts. we still find that hotels seem to be contracting for the year, on an annual basis, at that 110-120 usd price- point for higher end hotels and roughly around 80 usd price-point for upper midscale hotels. we understand that director of sales and marketing are the people who are in the front and facing the flack. so should the rate decision, according to you, be left only with revenue managers? peter fulton: i think revenue management is far more complicated than just a computer program and a person who sits there. it is a set of business practices that cross the scope of the management of the hotel. it optimises your f&b and spa revenue, or what you are doing in catering and actually managing the peaks and troughs of what is going on. so, that right rate strategy for that particular weekend, or that particular week, in that particular month in order to get you there. so, i do not look upon it as the sole responsibility of the general manager, or the revenue manager. but everybody needs to come to the party here and there needs to be long-term strategy of what you are trying to do for the business over the long run and where do you want to get to. sanjay sethi: ajay, in your company, how are you reinventing your strategies for upping the yields on your room? ajay bakaya: i have always considered, over the last twenty odd years, that your occupancy point on which you can be a lot more aggressive is about a 70% over a six- months period. if you are hitting that, or if you are hitting that 80-85% between monday night and thursday night, and i am talking largely business hotels, you have a strong case to push up your occupancies. but let us get away from philosophy and look at real life. look at bengaluru and hyderabad – two cities which underperform in terms of rates. hyderabad is probably the weakest of metro cities. marketing team driving the revenue. we have also set up revenue management strategy sessions, accordingly to be headed by the head of revenue management, so that we can take the right direction, supported by the tools we have. so, as you go along, you will see that if you have to take advantage of the demand factor, and if we are to take advantage of the rate opportunities, we need to enable and empower our revenue managers to drive the decision-making, because they are the best at that. sanjay sethi: ritesh, you are slightly you need to build great products and have the confidence and patience to basically start building it. so, santacruz is already on the fifth spot on tripadvisor for a market like mumbai; within one year we have achieved our revpar index. that is very hard in a tough, competitive branded set. more recent is amritsar. we are already number one on tripadvisor. so, there is a lot to say about building great products, services and then fixing your price. ,, exceptionally large, the number of brands catering to the segment are very limited. and hence we have had very limited challenges with rates at this point in time. the natural issue, of course, is how do you continue to remain fair-priced. our prices in the last year have marginally gone up. marginally is 8-10%. on the other hand, in the mid-market segment, townhouse, where we compete with a lot of traditional brands, our belief is that a unique experience takes away lot of these pricing pressures. our view is that taking away consumer proposition for keeping the same price is a wrong strategy. you should always try and improve on the customer proposition and at the end of the day, if you continue to upgrade the experience and create a differentiated service, in our experience, the consumer ends up paying. sanjay sethi: with ritesh’s model being fairly disruptive, would you say that this model actually creates a barrier for the organised hotel sector, in terms of rate growth strategy? chinmai sharma: i think for certain segments in the industry, for sure, because the kind of amount ritesh might be able to put in certain hotels, directly or indirectly, he will be able to dictate what needs to be done. luckily for some of the other brand, which are on this table, i think we are in full control of our pricing. at least, that is what we like to think. so, from a pricing context, short answer is no. we have products and services and we sell across channels. the likes of otas and oyos bring in incremental demand and new customers to us, but what we sell at is completely determined by us. and over a period of time, we become a little bit strict on how that is sold, so that we have more control over what the end consumer is looking at to avoid confusion. sanjay sethi: raj, what would your rate strategy be for 2017 and 2018? is it going to be aggressively rate driven and are you looking at occupancy indexes to be the driver? rajeev menon: at the end of the day, it is really going to be a strategy by market. in today’s environment, you cannot really take a pan-india, or that matter a full asia strategy. you have really got to go granular. you have got to go market by market and there are a number of markets in india that represent considerable opportunity on rate lifts, and we will pursue those opportunities. then there are markets that are still in the occupancy driving stage and we would continue to do that. for us, traditionally, we have driven about 25-30% premium on our market share and we will continue to pursue that. this year the shift really is all about adr index and how we are driving adrs better than our competitors. through a third-party data, it is very simple to analyse whether we are doing a better job than our competitors, or our competitors are doing a better job than us. to me, having watched india over a number of years, we had a peculiar chief revenue officer, taj hotels palaces resorts safaris chinmai sharma group president – eame and sw asia, hyatt hotels corp. peter fulton we have a problem. we do not believe in ourselves. as an industry, i think, we need to get our act together and say that we expect our customer to pay a fair price for the product that we are going to deliver. the largest customers out there who are buying, some of the corporates who come up and say that we want to pay you a rate of `4000 for a five-star deluxe room. ,,
20 h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 if you have an inventory of 200 keys, and you are going in november-december to every large corporate customer and saying that you want to contract with him from january to december. whatever you might say of revenue management, if you have infosys, jp morgan, or goldman sachs ofﬁces in your backyard, the logic of revenue management says that they are in your backyard and should pay you the highest rate does not really work so well when you are sitting across the table and negotiating with those guys. because everybody else is also knocking on the door. i do not think we have reached that stage, we certainly have not, in the three, four and ﬁve-star market where we can say that this is our rate, otherwise we can live without your business. that is a good 40-60% of our business negotiated. they have a negotiated rate, but your inventory is open in the market. so, if you have an annual rate, but you are trading on a lot less than that on the net, people say why should we pay you the annual rate. that is one part of it. i do not think in those markets where we are doing really well on occupancies, we still are not at a stage where we can say to people that i can do without you. you are ﬁghting how to retain the business and still not in the position where you can say that i will take a chance and say let us lump it. the other part is that of all the business that comes from otas, a good 20-25% of the overall business, it is very strongly price- driven. yes, i love my product. i am very proud of it, but you push up the rate by a couple hundred bucks, the customer goes somewhere else. it is straight forward and simple. if you want ota business, it trades at price-points. you want it, depending on what your occupancy is, you can grab it, else push up the rate. so, i think we are in a fairly difﬁcult situation at this moment. what is your price-point, compared to paris, london, or anywhere else? there is no price-point. your price-point is what your customer is willing to pay you. yes, 2016 was a good year compared to the year before. we hope 2017 to be a better year. i am saying, if i get a 7-8% increase over the last year, i am a happy man. it is a different ball-game if you are in a leisure location, because decisions are not taken months in advance. you have an inventory that is open; you can play out a lot more. when demand peaks, you can push your rates and get higher yields. revenue management deﬁnitely plays a part. you need smart guys to take decisions independently, because sales and marketing is all about building relationships. revenue management needs to work on different principles and independently. i think we are still not in the driving seat as far as business hotels in india are concerned. perhaps, with a sole exception of mumbai. sanjay sethi: ritesh, just to understand your model, do you get most of your business through otas, third-party channels, or your business is by and large driven by your own channel? ritesh agarwal: we control the pricing of all our units across the ecosystem. i feel one thing that we as an industry need to do is an extension of what ajay just mentioned is not benchmarking our price to the nearest hotel in the cluster. that is what is the usual way of pricing. the rate should be driven on what the customer is willing to pay. the answer to your question is that 99% of our business comes from brand.com, or a corporate app. 1% of our business comes from domestic and international online travel agents. within that 99%, ofﬂine travel agents would also contribute, primarily to our leisure business, or mice business in cities at this point of time. i think, consistently, if we can move towards liquidity being controlled by us which is brand.com and brand apps, my i think what is going to come into the picture a lot more now, with all companies, is a certain design element that says that my hotel is a lot more different, a lot more like my living room in home. so, whoever takes the lead in smarter design and converting them into much more of a home-feel, a relaxed place, you have a better chance of pushing up the average rates. ,, managing director, sarovar hotels and resorts ajay bakaya shantha de silva head- sw asia, intercontinental hotels group otas form an important part of business for all of us, and our strategy with otas is to drive incremental revenue to the hotels, not necessarily the base revenue of hotels. otas are an important partner of our witness and it is a partner we need to work with to drive incremental revenue. i think all of us have a space to play in the market.,, view is that we will be in stronger control of pricing. otherwise, we will continue to ﬁght, in otas, on how do we remain in the top-3 of three-star hotels, so that the customer comes to us – which will basically mean that we are playing into the whole game of not customer proposition, but what is the other hotel willing to price itself at. sanjay sethi: i am going to switch track a little bit now and come to the investment side of the business. company like ours which is looking at aggressive growth, there are two ways in the market. one is greenfield and other is, obviously, acquisition. acquisition comes at certain cost per key. adrs are not staking up with the old thumb rule of thousand multiple anymore. we are halfway there. how do panellists over here plan to plug that gap that hotel investors have on cost per key basis to returns per key that are currently prevalent, and how do you expect to grow that? what is the one thing that you tell yourselves in marketing and revenue management team that this is one area that i want you to drive and how they would like to drive that? chinmai, would you like to comment? chinmai sharma: one thing is that when the deal is done you have a performa, sometimes it is a little bit aggressive and you have to cash the cheque based on supply-demand. we are always catching up, but one thing that we have learnt is that when we are launching new products, we have ample time to study the market and get off at the right foot. so, in a most recent example, we launched taj santacruz and amritsar, and even though santacruz is in a catchment area which is overbuilt and there becomes unfeasible. we are also going into asset-light model and we are going to chase management contracts, but we need good stories to tell. so, it is becoming difﬁcult. sanjay sethi: raj, are you looking at cutting down on some freebies? goodies that go out with the room rates which stay fairly opaque. rajeev menon: sure, we are. but on your question about investment making sense, i will like to push back a little here, because it is not a 100% operator rate issue. it is how investors plan their ﬁnancing. we have seen partners like yourself who have done an exceptional job in planning, getting right loans over an extensive period of time. in international markets, bank loans are given for 20-30 years. interest rates sit anywhere from 2-5%. you are still trading in india where loans are in the 10-15 years range while rates are still between 10-13%. those numbers will never make an investment stack up, over the next ﬁve years. the second piece that we tend to forget is that we do live in a cyclical business environment. i was in india when we opened our ﬁrst hotel in mumbai and the market was depressed. a couple of years later, we were on a high and raising rates 25% every year, y-o-y – and that was 5-6 years of a great cycle. i know hotels that were paid off within 4 years. now we have been in a bad cycle and it has been almost a decade and it is becoming a distant memory, but the dynamic is starting to change. it is really about identifying the cyclical shift, the dynamics of the market and getting your ﬁnancing right to basically get best results. sanjay sethi: if you go for an acquisition, you cannot buy an upper upscale luxury hotel for less than 2-2.5 crores a key the way forward is taking control of our business. the more we drive direct bookings, our own channels, it will help us drive rates in our own business. if you ask a majority of hotel owners today, with the rupee working in the reverse direction, nobody wants to go the dollar rate. is pricing pressure downwards, we decided that we would price it up there and keep it there. it does not matter if it takes a few weeks, months, and that strategy actually paid off. you need to build great products and have the conﬁdence and patience to basically start building it. so, santacruz is already on the ﬁfth spot on tripadvisor for a market like mumbai; within one year we have achieved our revpar index. that is very hard in a tough, competitive branded set. more recent is amritsar. we are already number one on tripadvisor. so, there is a lot to say about building great products, services and then ﬁxing your price. in amritsar, we opened at 40% above the competitive set and stayed there. it has only been a few months and we are already ramping up. sanjay sethi: so, what is the quick fix for getting the rates up? chinmai sharma: we have had to push the envelope quite a bit, i would say, with mix success. the good news is that we have ample intelligence now to see what the competition set is doing. we hear a lot of noise but when we look at the data, we see that we are the only one. i will give you an example. we did some analysis for our top 25 hotels and markets and through tools you can actually see how many companies are giving free breakfasts, free transfers, free ofﬁce drops and what is the average rate increase, and it is still unfortunate that in a market like india the competition set has actually gone down. we have gone up on rates. we have taken away breakfast for like 70% of our corporate accounts. that is the big step, but i have not seen anything in the competition set. i mean we can only do this for so long, because at the end of the day we will hold the general manager accountable for delivering market share. but coming back to your point, i think investors certainly have some returns on their mind and it and 8-10k adrs are never going to get you the returns. is there a directive that you give to your india team on the rate side which will help your owners make reasonable returns on investments? peter fulton: obviously, there is a lot of impetus on moving the rates. last season, we were very successful in removing a lot of inclusions, and that is going to continue. i think there are a lot of other interesting things going on as well. if i look at the contract statement which we do not talk about very much, we have got crew and so forth paying less than 30 usd for a room. in this day and age, i think we are paying them to come and stay in our hotels. then you take out the crew rate and start comparing with what the rest of the market is paying, there are disproportionate differences that we have built across the hotels. i think we really need to start addressing some of those. get them to pay what they owe us in a timely manner, so you are actually making money out of what is going on. sanjay sethi: santha, we spoke about otas earlier, and brands like yours’, the job is to bring business to hotels. why is it that we see a significant change in the revenue mix where your ota revenue seems to be creeping up at a very high cost to the owner? what you going to do to correct that source of business mix are, so that it becomes a viable option? shantha de silva: otas form an important part of business for all of us, and our strategy with otas is to drive incremental revenue to the hotels, not necessarily the base revenue of hotels. otas are an important partner of our business and it is a partner we need to work with to drive incremental revenue. i think all of us have a space to play in the market. as a company, what we have been concentrating on is our direct channels and our loyalty bookings. ihg has the largest loyalty program in the world with a hundred
h ote l s + re sorts @ h icsa 20 17 21 million members that help us drive direct booking to our hotels. on the technology platform, ihg has been one of the leading companies to use technology to drive better customer satisfaction levels. so, if you look at the mobile app which we launched, it has more than two million downloads. actually, mobile bookings have increased tremendously over the years; over 4o percent plus growth in the last three years on mobile booking on our own websites. what ihg is doing is driving that loyalty, those direct booking channels…in fact, we will be the ﬁrst to launch an industry leading guest reservation system – which is cloud based – and we are developing it in partnership with amadeus. it helps us to go away from increasing commoditisation to specialisation and personalisation, giving our guest better choices of personalised stays, thereby helping us drive, both, business and rates of our hotels. we will partner with otas to drive incremental revenue, but we will also build our own direct business channels to drive our hotels. sanjay sethi: we give somewhere between 15-18% as commission to otas on room rates and this is based on the benchmark rates that are there in the market. in addition to that, hotel owners tend to pay 1.25-2% of revenue as marketing fee. for ota segment, because it is your sales and marketing channel should reduce your distribution cost, would you then waive off the sales and marketing fee for that segment of business in the future? shantha de silva: i think how we add value to the owners is, ﬁrstly, by our buying power and our scale, we are able to drive better commission rates with otas. so, automatically, owners have an advantage and beneﬁt in working with us, rather that working with otas directly. secondly, part of getting the business is of also having the channel to deliver it in the hotels. and we invest a fair amount in technology, promotion of website; we invest a lot in how the look and feel of what we have. rajeev menon (interjects…): just to add, i do not think we are going to sit here and negotiate management agreements. otas need to be seen as partners in value-add when hotels and brands need them. we just negotiated two of our biggest contracts and it was public that our ceo arnie sorenson took a very hard stand. basically, at one point, we were looking to go dark with one of the biggest otas and the focus there was that we wanted to negotiate on our terms, and have the right to be able to market to our members better rate. we wanted to have right to continue to yield manage and, obviously, negotiate the commission structure. at the last minute, those deals got done and we are in a good place. but to put things in perspective, if we are paying, hypothetically, 15% to otas at benchmark rates, in many cases, i would take them any day of the week as compared to many corporate contracts. it is really about understanding the dynamics of the market and how you use otas to value-add to your top-line, and going to do better room rates, if we stay where we are. in the same conveyor belt mode! i think what is going to come into the picture a lot more now, with all companies, is a certain design element that says that my hotel is a lot more different, a lot more like my living room in home. so, whoever takes the lead in smarter design and converting them into much more of a home-feel, a relaxed place, you have a better chance of pushing up the average rates. sanjay sethi: chinmai, what do you feel about usd rates and indian rates? chinmai sharma: i have not thought too much about the issue, but having a single rate at the right point will probably make more sense because if you are looking at optically reducing room-rates so, may be, kuwaiti dinar or dirhams would be even better than usd, but i think international you have seen in the last three months that rupee has actually appreciated. so, if you start playing that game (usd rates), you will be changing currency every six months, and i do not think that is where we want to go. otas will drive incremental business for hotels while primary business will be self-driven. basically using them as partners to get the best out of what you want in your business versus letting them control your business. sanjay sethi: ajay, do you see india going to dual-rate strategy again? indian rupee and us dollar rates, separately? ajay bakaya: no, do not. i think it is a fair strategy. in fact, if you ask a majority of hotel owners today, with the rupee working in the reverse direction, nobody wants to go the dollar rates. dollar rates were very popular when the rupee was always sliding downwards, and it helped you meet your budget, because you have got a 10-15% arr increase, just because of the exchange rate. i think an important part that we really have not covered here is how are hotels visitors who are coming here are travelling the globe. and i cannot think of any country where dual currency is working successfully. so, to my mind, there are no obvious reasons. i know we used to do it in the past. simplicity will work well. sanjay sethi: any final thoughts, raj? then we can move on to peter and others. rajeev menon: i, personally, would not go down that road for two reasons. one, the big part of business that we do today is with the indian community. we are now past that stage where 65% of our business used to be international. 35% was the indian. now, the tables have turned. second thing i would say is that it is very f&b facing competition with rising numbers of stand-alone venues: meena bhatia risky to play the currency game. across asia, we have seen most markets move to local currency. governments prefer it; it is the right way to do business and easy to manage single currency inventory. so, it is the best way to work around. you have seen in the last three months that rupee has actually appreciated. so, if you start playing that game, you will be changing currency every six months, and i do not think that is where we want to go. sanajy sethi: peter, your thoughts on the subject? peter fulton: i think that would be a grave setback. internet has changed the world. it is very transparent. we are in india. we should be charging rupees. sanjay sethi: besides dual-rates, any other thoughts, shantha? shantha de silva: the way forward is taking control of our business. the more we drive direct bookings, our own channels, it will help us drive rates in our own business. also, i think owning our customer, like we have done with the national sales ofﬁce which gives one-point contact to our key decision makers. those strategies will help us drive rates. sanjay sethi: anything that you would like to share about how you do your business on rates front? ritesh agrawal: our view is that rate is one thing that we want to bring down. the intention is that we do not want to do it just for the fun of it, but continue to deliver innovative solutions like sunrise check-ins, additional food through the day, so that you can get the right amount of money from the guest which is a fair price, but at the same time introduce a lot of ﬁrst-time customers to the formal ecosystem of hotel brand. i believe more than 10 billion dollars worth of assets, at least, trust us as second unit owners for their revenue and rate management every day. the primary reason why they are ok with the strategy is that at the end of the month they make better returns than they used to make earlier. the second thing is more innovative products that enable the customers to pay up a little more. our view is that the more number of people get introduced to the formal network of hotel ecosystem, there will be more people willing to pay a little higher for the room rate, and probably is the right strategy for all of us in times to come. s n i ppets meena bhatia, vp-operations, le meridien new delhi reflected on the year gone by and opportunities ahead for the hotel business. she argued that while business segment, backed by mice movement, remained healthy, growing number of stand-alone f&b outlets were posing a challenge to the hotel’s prospect in that segment. by anagat choudhary w hat is the single biggest challenge in running your hotel? le meridien new delhi is an iconic hotel. the hotels outstanding architecture and its coordinates lend to its celebrated character. what also enhances its beauty is the extraordinary heart of the house, the well-knit fabric of the work force and the distinct work culture that has evolved over the years. ownership, passion and commitment of each of the associates is what differentiates the hotel from many others. nothing that can’t be overcome and nothing that is really an obstacle. meena bhatia vp-operations, le meridien new delhi the avg. room rates have seen a marginal growth, increase in occupancies have pushed up revpar as well. f&b business has seen a bit of challenge in wake of abundance in high quality stand-alone dining venues. ,, the government taxation policies though have always posed a challenge, especially the luxury tax, we are hoping that the gst implementation will resolve this matter. how has the last year been in terms of business for the hotel? how has it impacted various aspects like fnb, rooms, average ratings, outlets etc.? it has been a great year, despite the speed bumps of the emerging aero city, demonetisation, global recession, brexit, global terror threats etc., i think we have had a great year. india has been repositioned on the global map which has certainly increased demand, especially arising from political and commercial visits, exhibitions and events and foreign companies seeking business opportunities. it has been a growth year. the average room rates have seen a marginal growth, which indicates a positive strength in demand, increase in occupancies have pushed up revpar as well. food & beverage business has seen a bit of challenge in wake of abundance in high quality stand-alone dining venues. the average room rates have seen a marginal growth indicating a positive strength in demand. electronic visas, new tourist circuits and boost in domestic tourism all additionally contribute to the growth in tourism. how has the tourism sector shaped up in the last year in your city? what have been the impact on the hotel in regard to the same? indian tourism is looking up as well as india’s position on the global map goes a few notches above. tourism in the capital has been buoyant, this has been one of the reasons of the increase in demand for hotels. electronic visas, new tourist circuits and boost in domestic tourism all additionally contribute to the growth in tourism. preferred hotels & resorts welcomes 32 new member hotels preferred hotels & resorts, the world’s largest independent hotel brand, welcomed 32 new member hotels across 15 countries to its brand portfolio from january through april 2017. with growth ranging from a pristine private island retreat in the maldives and a world-acclaimed golf resort in scotland to city-center hotels in destinations from seoul to savannah, these new properties represent the company’s commitment to partner with independent hotels and resorts that exemplify #thepreferredlife. travellers can book a stay at any of these hotels online or via their mobile device through the new iprefer mobile app, available to members of the preferred hotels & resorts iprefer hotel rewards program, which extends points redeemable towards free nights and other on-property expenditures, elite status, and other complimentary beneﬁts to guests. free to join, the iprefer hotel rewards program currently has 1.8 million members.
22 on li n e : f icc i su m m it leaders examine trends in digital space at ficci summit on digital travel in india aggregators are here to stay, will upset the apple-cart: chinmai sharma chinmai sharma, chief revenue officer, taj hotels palaces resorts safaris notes that online booking medium has gained traction, even with brands like his, signalling a decisive shift in consumer behaviour. while aggregators are here to stay and likely to upset the apple-cart, brands with unique value proposition and standing, like taj, will continue to maintain their niche position in the marketplace. excerpts: by shashank shekhar sharat dhall: it is very interesting, as far as the hospitality sector is concerned, online travel is a large distribution channel. apart from that, what are the areas, really, that have changed in the past decade or so, with respect to the sector? and, may be, talk a little bit about the new concept called ‘virtual hotel chains’, and how do they really impact traditional hotel chains? how do you view them? i think that is an interesting question. in terms of customers, what we are noticing is that, especially with the price wars, everybody is shopping and buying differently. even in the luxury space, or uber-luxury space, people actually start their discovery from a pretty long time. so, there is a big segment which is still responsible for selling one-to-one travel in that luxury space. the funny thing is that, as you were saying, a lot of people are moving towards the online space for services. so, even for our category of products, nearly 25%, actually more of our business is coming from we put a lot of sweat and toil in developing our hotels. so, it is interesting that companies like priceline and booking.com have market caps of billions of usd. they are spending more money on paid service than my whole turnover, for example. the good news about internet is that it is a level playing ﬁeld. at the same time, we hope that economies of scale do not go so adverse that we are not able to compete. so, the way we see online, virtual players is that they should play fair, and pass on the value proposition the way they are supposed to. but in general, where india is right now, we welcome any and every operator that is there, because eventually, it is helping travel. sharat dhall: how do you see entities like oyo, tribo and fabhotels as a new concept, and a very light model of building out a chain? how do you view those players? i know they do not operate in your segment, but how do you view it from the sector’s point of view? my view from a sector point of view is that it is good. it is moving to standardize the it is interesting that companies like priceline and booking.com have market cap of billions of usd. online, even right now – which is very high, even for an under-penetrated market like india. more than one-fourth of our business is coming online which i ﬁnd quite surprising. within our trafﬁc, nearly 50% of that is now global trafﬁc. the rate at which the numbers are growing is so fast. and it would have been surprising if we were running a multi-hotel chain, or a three-star hotel chain, or a fmcg company where the user frequency is high. even for our kind of product to see this kind of trend is very interesting. second thing is that sometimes, people think that online customers are very price-sen- sitive. we have not seen that. people who are buying online through our channels; rates are higher and their on-property spend is more. it is a very proﬁtable model at a very low cost. we see that model grow under the sun. on the question of virtual online agents, there is good news and bad news. good news is that they are enhancing travel, facilitating it. so, there are more people coming online, more people are getting comfortable buying e-commerce online. it will actually help the industry and there is enough in india. irrespective of where we look at, there is enough to grow around in the market. segment, the market which is currently underserved. that is a huge opportunity there. one of our brands, the ginger brand which competes with oyo, for example. we have a lot of respect for what oyo is doing. i like it as a consumer. i also hope that there is standardization. safety, security and infrastructure are some of the other issues that makes customer experience go for a toss. otherwise, india has huge opportunity in, pretty much, every segment. so, from our perspective, even though we do not compete with them, but we see the advent of aggregators, airbnb, oyo etc…i mean they will upset the apple-cart somewhere. still, we feel that we have a very clear value proposition and looking for certain things and as long as we deliver those in a seamless passion, hopefully, we will stay in the race. sharat dhall: you know your consumers; you know your seasons, occupancies. how do you make your pricing system more advance and throw it across your distribution channels? i think our pricing systems are becoming more and more sophisticated now. we india has huge opportunity in, pretty much, every segment. so, from our perspective, even though we do not compete with them, but we see the advent of aggregators, airbnb, oyo etc…i mean they will upset the apple-cart somewhere. still, we feel that we have a very clear value proposition and looking for certain things and as long as we deliver those in a seamless passion, hopefully, we will stay in the race.,, chinmai sharma chief revenue officer, taj hotels palaces resorts safaris already have a pretty sophisticated pricing system which sits there and looks at what the competition set is pricing, but also looks at variables, your own demand patterns and segment mix. so, we are getting more scientiﬁc day-by-day. one interesting thing that we have done is we have done av testing at our site also. may be, not as frequently as booking.com. it probably does three av tests per day and we do it once in three months. in terms of giving a sense of urgency to a customer, we have started using some of that tactics and conversions have improved by 30- 40%. we are trying to get more personalised for our customers as well. we are no way as close as some of the ota partners etc., but given the kind of product, or the experience the guest is choosing, our intent is to customise some of the offers when the guest visits next time. we will continue to chip away on this slowly and steadily. but the whole idea of giving a customer what he wants and customise it as much as possible seems to be the guiding philosophy now, moving forward. sharat dhall: times have changed. on- trip experiences are shared on various platforms. how do you manage some of these things? how is the industry managing it? for the longest time, hotels were not paying attention to customers staying in-house. everybody is vocal now. the advantage we have is that there is no dearth of feedback which is good. the moment you actually start listening, you can convert a lot of business on the ﬂy. so, what we have done is that. larger players like hiltons’ and marriotts’ are a little bit ahead because they have huge technology investments. now, you can do in-house service chats; you can check-in without your room key. we are incorporating some of that. we do not want technology to be overbearing. it is, ﬁrst of all, expensive and we want to make sure that some personal touch that is needed is always there. whatever we put in makes the guest experience a little bit better. we are a little bit conservative. also, we do not have the kind of cash that some of the other guys have. we have recently launched a social media command centre at our corporate ofﬁce which is like 9 to 16 screens. we use technology to listen to everything that is going on. any chatter that includes taj hotels, or any of our top executives, we pick it up and do some sensitive analysis. the result is that our turn-around time on social media is now very short. we get back within 15 minutes and we have seen that not only do we salvage issues when the guest is in-house, we are actually converting a lot of sales as well. we have converted around one crore of new revenue in the last one month where people were saying that i am going to udaipur and i am not sure what to do. or, sometimes, it is the language issue. we have an army of people who react to those kinds of things. even though, we have been very traditional in terms of our investment in it, but are waking up because we can see the results. we also have to learn from the likes of airbnb who are using technology to connect the traveller to the host. we just have to use technology in the right way.
on li n e : f icc i su m m it 23 video content gaining traction; on the move reviews lending credibility, says hari nair hari nair talks about the importance of video content and reviews in the context of the indian market. he attributes the rise in importance of video contents to expanding social media base in the country – a trend which is likely to intensify in the coming years. sharat dhall: you operate in the top of the funnel. it is interesting how that market has evolved. you have moved from top of the funnel to further down and have horizontal search as well which you compete with. what do you think has changed, and the change that companies like you have brought in the way consumer perceive and buy travel? there are two underlying assumptions. one is that we are always about content while the before they go for search. therefore, they are sitting in the social media. so, facebook status numbers for india is 125 million. these are all pointers of the vibrant environment you have; the numbers you get there. the challenge is, ﬁrstly, how do you get there with the right kind of meaningful content. second is how do you translate that reaching out to actually in a funnel. what that means, for example, is that a person who is actually on facebook is thinking very differently form reviews are reflections after you have come back and it has great value because it has a lot of considered opinion there. what it misses out is the immediacy of something that happens. i think video reviews captures that aspect. other is that we are about leisure travel. so, these are the two constructs that we operate. what we have seen, particularly in the last year, is the dominance of social media as a place where people talk and decide on their travel. so, if you look at the top of the funnel, there are people who are looking for inspiration for travel. three year ago, i would have turned to search. search would have been the place where people would have looked in the early stage of their plan. i think the big change that has happened is that now you have an opportunity to get them a person who does a search on google. and the difference is this: they have interest in travel, but they do not know what they want to do. the opportunity for you to reach that person at that time is there. so, you have to look at how do you can take our standard content, and our content is typically reviews, repurpose and relook at that content in order to make sense to people who are very early in the funnel situation in the social media. sharat dhall: do you engage with tour operators, local operators, to get the i think the big change that has happened is that now you have an opportunity to get them before they go for search. therefore, they are sitting in the social media. so, facebook status numbers for india is 125 million. these are all pointers of the vibrant environment you have; the numbers you get there. the challenge is, firstly, how do you get there with the right kind of meaningful content. second is how do you translate that reaching out to actually in a funnel. ,, hari nair founder and ceo, holidayiq.com local ecosystem going? i think the place we are seeing the maximum impact of in-trip activity is in reviews, and it is interesting because to me, in my mind, it is practically changing the way people think about business. we started to do video reviews a couple of years ago, on our app. 6-8 months ago we felt conﬁdent enough to take it out there. today we have video reviews on our app which has about 10,000 indian hotels. but the interesting thing about video reviews is the fact that you can only do them while you are at the hotel. it is a live proposition. it is on the app and you have to do it while you are there. so, typically, reviews are reﬂections after you have come back and it has great value because it has a lot of considered opinion there. what it misses out is the immediacy of something that happens. i think video reviews captures that aspect, and in the context of mobile phones, it seems more natural to me. our scale is disruptive, allows consumers s n i ppets to discover and book: nikhil ganju nikhil ganju talks about the experience of discovery, comparing prices and handling consumers to hotel booking partners for tripadvisor users and how the massive scale allows for disruption. sharat dhall: one thing that has happened with the online space is the very dynamic nature of competition. it is very difficult to figure out that who competes with you, and who actually supports you in terms of building up your own business. the lines are blurring with regard to what different players are doing. tripadvisor’s journey actually typifies how companies have moved across different parts of the purchase process. from a discovery search process, to a metasearch process, to a booking process. i would just like to know how that journey has been and what it has meant for consumers to have perceived your brand as well? it’s a great platform to talk about how trip, over the last couple decades, has really revolutionized the way people have discovered accommodation, experiences, and restaurants etc. in the pre-booking phase. so, there is no need to reiterate the what we have done really, in the last couple of years is to address the monetization leak. we feel that, essentially, we are massively under-monetized, especially with the scale we have, and the traffic that we have in hotels etc. that is why we moved into instant booking which was essentially solving a problem on mobile. that is why this disruption came around. ,, i think what i can say at the scale at which we operate at is disruptive, because it gives the opportunity to the traveller to not only discover, price-compare, but complete the booking. nikhil ganju country manager, tripadvisor scale of where we are today. we have got 700 million accommodation businesses listed at our site; 465 million reviews. soon we will be touching 500 million reviews on our site. it is obvious that we are at the top of the funnel, in that sense. what we have done really, in the last couple of years is to address the monetization leak. we feel that, essentially, we are massively under-monetized, especially with the scale we have, and the trafﬁc that we have in hotels etc. that is why we moved into instant booking which was essentially solving a problem on mobile. that is why this disruption came around. i think the problem was that, predominantly, a lot of our trafﬁc, almost 50% of our trafﬁc in india is on the mobile. it was evident that the experience of discovery, comparing prices and handling our consumers to our hotel booking partners. i think what i can say, at the scale at which we operate at is disruptive, because it gives the opportunity to the traveller to not only discover, price- compare, but complete the booking. not just for accommodations, but restaurants and activities as well. clearly, we believe that it is a win-win situation not only for consumers, but also for our partners. it has helped our booking partners achieve more conversions and, therefore, it should be great for everyone in the ecosystem in the long run. corporation (mtdc), recently announced its mtdc in talks to tie up with airbnb to promote outreach and showcase its tourism potential globally. the maharashtra tourism development plans to tie up with global aggregator, airbnb. apart from the bed and breakfast options being provided by the mtdc, which is the largest provider of bed and breakfast options in india, the state has also developed 72 indigenous experiences which will also be listed on the airbnb platform for showcasing. mtdc has 1,400 bed and breakfast accommodations, which is the highest in the country, but the 72 unique experiences, categorised under mahabhraman will have to be marketed, and this is a great opportunity, tourism minister, jaykumar rawal was quoted as having said. “the idea is to use airbnb as a platform to showcase our best options. these are experiences that people do not know about and would love to experience them... all we need is to reach out to them,” rawal added. according to reports, 90% of the booking done with mtdc are being made online and this tie up will help the corporation with its outreach as well as with destination promotion. according to reports in the media, this move will also help in promoting development in rural areas. “the mtdc has three verticals, namely bed and breakfast options, mahabramhan (experimental tourism) and our own resorts, which can be marketed to a global audience. this will promote tourism in maharashtra and pave the way for other state tourism entities to enter into such arrangements,” said a senior mtdc ofﬁcial as per media reports.
24 on li n e : f icc i su m m it industry insiders discuss the evolution in distribution system, means of leveraging it the session dedicated to decoding the churnings in the hospitality space and the evolution of hotel distribution systems with the advent of otas in the marketspace. hoteliers discuss latest trends and the way forward in an engaging session. booking and its convenience, as far as providing quality of experience is concerned, that as i said does not fall in the purview of otas. otas, by deﬁnition, would want to be open platform where all types of supply enlist and made available for online booking. indeed, as far as the customer point of view is concerned, even if i am booking a property online, i need to take the risk of ﬁnding out what kind of experience i am going to have, actually, at the property, irrespective of the source of booking. the second thing that i would like to see more of, and i think that is happening with some otas, at least is to democratize the platform fully. making them much more data dependant, much more autopilot if you may where hotel chains are able to use a lot of data and look at their content score. otas are the distributors and hotels have the product. the relationship is only complimentary. mohit gupta: two things that otas do well for them and two things that otas do not do so well. sonavi kaicker: i am going to give a very different perspective from a heritage viewpoint, because we only ventured into the ota industry about 4-5 years ago, and it has been a phenomenal experience for us in terms of learning. we had to adapt our entire concept to reach out to different customers across the world that are using different otas. for example, in our ﬂagship hotel, neemrana fort palace, every room is a category. if you are booking chandra mahal, there is only one of it; if you are booking deva mahal, there is one of it. how do you convey that to someone sitting in france or germany who is looking at booking 3 chandra mahal? we said, let us create a different category. so, we created heritage romance, heritage comforts, all kinds of different names which was moving away from what our brand identity was. it has done really well. we have seen growth in ﬁgures too. so, i would say that there is no doubt that otas are here to stay. they are a part of the travel industry, and stronger than some of our ofﬂine partners as well. challenge for us is that some of our properties, and other heritage hotel chains, are in remote locations. while we understand that, even makemytrip for example sometimes does not part way with guest information. there are others as well, expedia does not either. it is not always about heritage hotels taking customers away. sometimes, it is also about being able to reach the customer, in case there has been a landslide, or to suggest an alternate route to the property. so, here we feel that it would be great if there is more ﬂexibility. and, of course, rate parity is also very important. it is very important for otas to respect that because at the end of the day when a customer calls a hotel chain after doing his r&d on ﬁve different portals, he asks why should i book with you and not from some other platform. that makes rate parity very important. mohit gupta: what is your take on what otas could do better to help distribute your hotel or the offering that you have? sonavi kaicker: i think it is very important for every hotel chain, if they have the budget, to invest in channel manager. there is a lot of confusion in terms of availability when you are looking at the brand website and when you are looking at distribution across platforms. so, that is one aspect. the second aspect is that there is variation in terms of what customers expect, because they are looking at one particular photograph online, and expect to stay in that particular room, they could be disappointed. not because of the hotel, but because of the rooms of the otas. mohit gupta: what can otas do better for boutique hotels as a platform? zia sheikh: one of the things that i really like is that makemytrip has come up with a separate segment of boutique hotels, because people who are travelling and want to stay in a boutique hotel, it is very difﬁcult for them to ﬁnd one, when they search for ﬁve-star or four-star hotels on a ota. internationally, now, and increasingly, i think in india there is a big move towards these individual experiences. what i have seen globally is that people do not want the same room and experience whether they are in x city, y city or z city. they want to try out boutique experiences and more personalised services. so, these kind of travellers who initially used to be more creative like designers, and so on, has been adopted by the more mainstream as well. that is where i think otas can really help by having this separate category where people can very easily go and book it. challenge for us is that some of our properties, and other heritage hotel chains, are in remote locations. while we understand that, even makemytrip for example sometimes does not part way with guest information. it is not always about heritage hotels taking customers away. sometimes, it is also about being able to reach the customer, in case there has been a landslide, or to suggest an alternate route to the property. ,, i would like to see more of, and i think that is happening with some otas, at least is to democratize the platform fully. making them much more data dependant, much more autopilot if you may where hotel chains are able to use a lot of data and look at their content score. otas are the distributors and hotels have the product. the relationship is only complimentary. ,, if you see the travel landscape, and travel agents would probably empathise with me when i say that a typical travel agent’s commission is usually capped at 10%, but as an ota you can get away with 20-25% which i think is unfair. there is a lot of concentration of power in the hands of otas which should be a little more rationalised. that is one thing i do not really like about otas. ,, by shashank shekhar mohit gupta: two things that otas do well for them and two things that otas do not do so well. zia sheikh: one thing is very clear. jury is not out on whether otas are needed or not. they are very much a part of the ecosystem of the travel and hospitality space. so, you are being very modest when you say whether otas have value or not. i think we can always discuss, debate and ﬁght with otas on the level of commission they charge, but they are here to stay and we cannot live without them as much as they cannot live without us. overall, i think this topic is very interesting because technology has been disrupting a whole host of industries and hospitality, speciﬁcally, has i think has undergone a lot of turbulence. typically, hotels used to be owned, asset-heavy, long-gestation periods, needing a lot of investment and suddenly we had a small company named airbnb come in totally c hanging the dynamics. today, airbnb is the largest hotel chain in the world without owning a single hotel. their market cap is more than, i think, top ﬁve hotel chains combined and that is really the result of technology. that is the level of disruption and innovation which is happening. the challenge for hotels is to not look at it as a challenge but as an opportunity. an opportunity, basically, to grow their brand, increase their distribution networks by leveraging technology and players that have gone into this space on the back of this technology. i think it has become far easier for us to get our distribution capability and sell our room across the world with those technological advances. mohit gupta: i will not let you off the hook easy. you did not mention about two things that they do not do so well? zia sheikh: if you see the travel landscape, and travel agents would probably empathise with me when i say that a typical travel agent’s commission is usually capped at 10%, but as an ota you can get away with 20-25% which i think is unfair. there is a lot of concentration of power in the hands of otas which should be a little more rationalised. that is one thing i do not really like about otas. the second one and i think it is more so with smaller chains like us, otas are passing on a lot of their commission back to the customer, just to grab market share. it is not bad because they are able to sell rooms at cheaper rates. their effective commission is, often, close to zero, but it impacts rate parity. we constantly have ﬁghts with otas to maintain rate parity. when we maintain it on our website, why should you be discounting on your channels. mohit gupta: two things that otas do well for them and two things that otas do not do so well. sidharth gupta: i think, if we step back a little bit, i see otas, particularly makemytrip, as pioneers of e-commerce in india. if you think about categories of products and services that indians learnt to buy online was travel. it is a foregone conclusion in, at least, some consumer segments that online is the best way to buy. otas deserve a lot of credit for providing a sense of convenience to the consumer. the second thing, i totally agree with zia, the presence of otas has literally allowed the emergence of internet-ﬁrst brands like ourselves. so, we are a brand that is a new- age hotel chain, treebo. similar to fashion and other segments, until a few years back, where a new entrant would have nearly impossible to break through the entry barriers of having physical distribution. that has changed now thanks to otas. two things that otas have not done…the ﬁrst thing i would mention is that in terms of differentiating, in terms of truly providing the customer assurance, not just for online sonavi kaicker ceo, neemrana hotels sidharth gupta co-founder, treebo hotels: zia sheikh chairman & md, svenska design hotels
on li n e : f icc i su m m it 25 the perception of goibibo as a cutting edge player helped sealing the deal: deep kalra deep kalra was on the hot seat once again as he answered some tricky questions pertaining to the biggest deal in the recent years – makemytrip and goibibo merger. he shared that it was a change in perception regarding goibibo which helped him in cementing the deal and the bigger challenge lied ahead in making it work as a cohesive unit. excerpts of his discussion at ficci summit. by shashank shekhar bibek: talk to us about the big merger with goibibo. how did the deal pan out? what were the challenges therein? deep kalra: we are very excited about the team that has come onboard from goibibo as well as from redbus. we have been spending the last couple of months entirely on this merger and what is called post merger integration which is far more complex than i had ever imagined. there is a reason why they say that most mergers do not work. i think we have got to put in a lot of effort and are fully cognisant of the fact that many do not work therefore, we are putting in a lot of focus to make this happen. the reason behind the merger is not just consolidation and what happens on a ﬁnancial basis. the markets are obviously very excited and have given a big thumbs up to it. we do not want to get ahead of ourselves and i think markets can punish you very severely and also reward you very handsomely. what is exciting is the quality of the cake. that is the key reason that this deal even happened. i can share quite candidly now, that the turning point for me, about the way we looked at goibibo from being a discount shop to being a cutting-edge technology player. there are some very clever technologies that goibibo has built. the turning point for me was when i took a look at their extranet. extranet is a cloud based tool that we use to connect to our hoteliers, so we have ours as well and companies like booking. com have theirs which they get the hotels to use. the larger hotels like the taj group are far more sophisticated and are hosted on a different platform where you can have direct connectivity just like with an airline. but 95% of india’s inventory is independent hotels and they do not have the sophistication to invest in that kind of a tool. so, you have to give them a very simple web based tool where they upload their inventory position or they will give you allocations so that real time will be available. so, when you are looking for a hotel in goa and you do not know any of these properties, we will give you all the content. you will see all the pictures, reviews which you want. to cut the long story short, when i got privy to seeing goibibo’s extranet, i was fully blown away and i thought they had done a world class job. i recall telling my folks that we had been ostriches and basically been delusional, which is the biggest risk of being a market leader. from that day onwards we started ﬁguring out how we can probably make this work. the other factor was very clear that naspers and goibibo were not giving up on their discounting. so, both things were happening, they were quite good in technology, very fast and far more agile, but more interestingly they were ready to keep on investing in this market. i had a call with naspers’ ceo, who is based in holland, bob, deep kalra founder & ceo, makemytrip and he was very clear that they were going to be very aggressive. that was their playbook and there was no dearth of capital per say and i do not think that we were ready for a long ﬁght of attrition. we had been doing it since 2005 and it was not helping our cause. we were seeing a lot of value getting eroded because investors were saying that clearly, we see that you are the leaders but when do you start going back to making money? 2 years after ipo we had made 10 million dollars and after that with the kingﬁsher bust we had to go in to the red and keep investing. they wanted to know when this would change and that was a question i was getting every quarter from my investors. so, i thought that consolidation does make sense. i also took a leaf out of the china online travel playbook. ctrip had done a pretty interesting job in terms of an acquisition of elong and then a merger with qunar. i think hindsight says that we probably did the right thing but time will tell. we have to make this work. it is still very early days and we are in the honeymoon period. exciting times ahead, a lot of work but a lot of fun. bibek: from 2005 to now, in the last 12 years, what are the kind of changes that you have seen? we are all aware that digital technology is changing at a very rapid pace. in india, travel preferences are also keeping pace with these kinds of changes. what are the kind of changes do you see? deep kalra: in 2005, we sold our ﬁrst online ticket in india. i remember the ﬁrst 2 years to seeing goibibo’s extranet, i was fully blown away and i thought they had done a world class job. i recall telling my folks that we had been ostriches and basically been delusional, which is the biggest risk of being a market leader. from that day onwards we started figuring out how we can probably make to cut the long story short, when i got privy this work.,, does well. there deals in the markets tend to last when people start shopping more. but the reality is that all these decisions can be broken down very well and rendered through technology very easily. you do not really want to speak to someone, you just want your answers. in fact, speaking to someone has become a pain for some people because it is about how you see all the options conveniently on a screen, through ai or a voice enabled platform, large or small, in a smooth and efﬁcient manner. how do you read out all the options for me? there are probably a hundred ﬂights between delhi and mumbai. you want to see them with the time and price sorted and boom we are done. so, there is a very compelling reason to move online. in-fact there is even a more compelling reason for post sales to move online. the most painful thing i think we have all seen, is holding on to the phone while an operator picks up the call and then you get shunted around. when someone is looking to maybe cancel their ticket or a small thing like that, all this is better served online. people want to actually capture that and save that. they want to save an audit trail and question the operator if a refund which was promised in a week has not reached the customer in india, it is often visa issues for which you need hand holding. this can be done online, but it is cumbersome. i would go to a lot of conferences and had made a statement in one of the conferences that if the industry did not move online then, half the people present there would be out of business pretty soon. today 65 percent of all airline tickets in india are sold online and this has happened fairly rapidly and it is not going to stop. yes, there will be some high end haggling as this is domestic air. otas have about 48-50% market share of this total pie, another odd 15% is with the airlines. our brands together is about 22-23% of the market share and this has all happened pretty rapidly. the compelling case as to why this happens is very simple. when you are looking to buy an air ticket, you are only interested in two or three dimensions. number one is price. very often you know the brand because you have ﬂown before. timing is very important and then it comes to the big decision which is all the frills like business or economy class. but really it is a poise and timing thing when you look at a domestic ticket, point a to point b. what is international becomes more interesting. mice becomes even more important. very often you are travelling for leisure as a family of four and the bill to go to europe or us gets in to several lacks so you shop more and therefore ofﬂine still in 10 days. we deal with this all the time and are actively trying to move this not only online, which it is, but actually to it being ai and chatbot enabled because that can do this job in a much better and relentless manner without any fatigue. my thesis for actually starting an online company was that travel is made to go online. it is a perfect ﬁt just like stockbroking. some businesses are just inherently made to go online very fast. the part of travel which i do not think will go online in a long time, eventually it will, will be complex holiday planning. we have invested in a company, inspirock, which does only holiday planning, which is very exciting. but the reality is that people still have myriad questions and they want assurances. specially the ﬁrst time traveller, you can capture a lot of them but there will always be one more. people have all the time when they want to spend 5-10 lacks on their annual vacation and they will talk to a lot of people. in india, it is often visa issues for which you need hand holding. this can be done online, but it is cumbersome. i think that will probably still remain the domain of on to off line but domestic holidays are moving online at a ferocious space. oyo launches first townhouse in hyderabad, pushes for larger share in telangana oyo is making a push to tap the mid-market and premium leisure segment with townhouse, ‘the friendly neighbourhood hotel’ which is a unique combination of a hotel, home, merchandise store and café. the company -plans to launch 25 townhouse hotels in telangana, expand to 60 hotels across 7 cities in southern india by end of 2017. oyo has introduced oyo townhouse to hyderabad, the ﬁrst launch of oyo townhouse – a brand-new category of “friendly neighbourhood hotel” – outside delhi ncr. this will be the 5th hotel in the townhouse portfolio since it was launched in january this year. townhouse combines element of experience and value at a scale that has never been attempted before in the hospitality landscape. after jubilee hills, the company plans to introduce oyo townhouse hotels at other popular locations in the city such as banjara hills, hitech city, gachibowli and panjagutta. the rooms will be priced at inr 2500 and upwards. the company has seen a steady expansion of footprint in the area since the launch of its ﬁrst budget category hotel, oyo rooms in february 2015. the plan to introduce its mid-segment premium product townhouse comes on the back of a fast-growing class of young consumers for whom price, convenience and a differentiated experience play an important role in determining choices. ritesh agarwal, founder & ceo - oyo, said “this is our ﬁrst townhouse offering outside delhi ncr and we are excited to choose hyderabad for our debut outside home turf. hyderabad has transformed into a cosmopolitan city representing a millennial outlook towards experiences and expectations. oyo townhouse’s efﬁcient hospitality and multi- utility concept ﬁts perfectly into this millennial lifestyle. it delivers a seamless experience through a format that operates as 25% hotel, 25% home, 25% cafe and 25% merchandise store in one place, providing a perfect complement to our guests’ lifestyle. oyo townhouse represents our ongoing commitment to innovate and create world-class hotel experiences from india.” elaborating on the philosophy behind townhouse, ritesh added, “townhouse will deliver an all-encompassing experience to guests. we are excited to showcase and deliver this proposition in hyderabad today.”
26 on li n e : f icc i su m m it industry heavyweights discuss the ‘smart traveller’ and upcoming challenges vishal suri, md, sotc spoke to gb srithar, regional director, south asia, middle east & africa , singapore tourism board; neerja bhatia, vice president , etihad airways, indian subcontinent; sriram rajmohan, ceo & md , club 7 holidays; siddharth dabhade, head of industry, google india; vikram ahuja, founder, byond travel and discussed the changing habits and patterns of the new age intelligent traveller as well as the industry’s response in keeping up with the swift changes in existing patterns. edited excerpts: by anagat choudhary vishal: it is very interesting that an airline wants to own the customer and the experience all the way to the destination itself, and is not just looking at a point to point connectivity and the transport aspect of that. i will begin with srithar who has been a destination marketer for a very exciting destination. singapore incidentally has been on the top of my mind, in terms of intention to travel from an indian traveller’s perspective, for an extremely long time. so, srithar from your perspective what is it that singapore as a destination is doing and how do you look at this new age traveller, the smart travellers and their ever-changing needs and requirements? srithar: i would like to make 3 points. the ﬁrst point is changing marketing objectives of our national tourism organisations such as singapore tourism board. the second is the rise of the sophisticated traveller which effects all of us whether it is dmcs or airlines. and the third is the rise of ‘me’. so, singapore tourism board has been fortunately in india for the longest of time. about 3 decades now and i think the shift from a national tourism organisation’s perspective has been drastically from destination marketing to experiential marketing. now we are looking at a lot more customer centric marketing and eventually we are going to look at a lot more customisation and i think super- customisation will be coming soon. i think the marketing objectives of the national tourism organisation have gone through fundamental shifts. the second point is about the sophisticated knowledge traveller. what i mean by that is, i think all of us are aware, today whether it is an airline or a dmc or an ota, the customer comes armed with a lot of information. the traveller is well researched, especially in the indian context. the traveller knows what the deals are, knows some of the experiences that are sought, is very speciﬁc when it comes to the needs. so, how do you cater to an audience which is very well informed? who is coming to you for that extra added value which you can perhaps give even though the traveller is already well equipped? how do we cater as a national tourism organisation, selling the message of travel to singapore to an increasingly well educated, well researched and sophisticated knowledge traveller? the third is about the rise of ‘me’. the point i was trying to make is that, increasingly all of us are going to face this, previously maybe 10 years ago you could say that when you travel, you are travelling to a destination based on what the dmcs have said or what the national tourism organisations have said. you would sit and picture what experiences you want to have and then you go there to that destination and then experience it more or less like how the destination wants you to experience. but increasingly in the age of me, it is my story, my voice and my i think all of us are aware, today whether it is an airline or a dmc or an ota, the customer comes armed with a lot of information. the traveller is well researched, especially in the indian context. the traveller knows what the deals are, knows some of the experiences that are sought, is very specific when it comes to the needs. so, how do you cater to an audience which is very well informed? ,, g b srithar rd, south asia, singapore tourism board vikram ahuja founder, byond travel the leisure side is evolving now in to let us say, women travelling with other women, self-drives, yoga, health, music, lgbtq, which is a huge market in india, and we do not talk about it and so forth. there is a huge under current of people within a particular community that want to travel with each other. these are people who now have a lot of money, who travel abroad to meet family but then what do they do the rest of the year?,, trends. i want to do it in my own territory, i want to share how it is, staying at someplace and tell it to my audience. not in the voice of the national tourism organisation, not in the voice of the dmc but in my voice. so, i think making that more and more possible is a challenge that we have in the national tourism board organisation. i think that sort of sums off some of the thoughts that i have about how in an increasingly technological savvy market space, the needs of the consumer and the way we approach them has to go through some fundamental shifts. vishal: that is great srithar and i agree with you and it is also for a destination like singapore, you continue to keep re- inventing to deliver on this experience. one is to market an experience and set an aspiration or an expectation around the destination but it is also how you deliver. and when we talk about new concepts like the ‘rise of me’ and super customisation, how does singapore continue to deliver in the destination itself around all these experiences. how do you make it more personal to that individual who is looking to travel to that destination maybe for the first or second time? srithar: i read an article in which the journalist had described singapore in a few words like fairly friendly, shopping haven etc. but one of the words that was used and i was very intrigued by was preciseness. i think singapore has been fortunate for many reasons and for many decades. now we are able to be very attuned to the needs of the hour. we came up with the concept of integrated resource when there was a lot of negative sentiments. i think what worked in our favour was having some commitment to getting the consumer needs, whether it is the that consumers give us real time feedback and give us data. now, coming to the travel industry, i think even from that perspective we are seeing very big trends. there are three big trends that we see both in india and to some extent throughout the world. one is this rise of mobile and it is all on the go. even when i am planning and dreaming about a holiday, it is on my mobile device because for the ﬁrst time in the history of india, so many people have their own personal instruments. everything up till now has been shared, be it television or phones but now we have our own personal devices. that gives a lot of freedom to consumers and they can really dream wherever they would want to go. now we have almost 400 million people on the internet in india out of which at least 250 million are using smart phones and all the big revolutions in the telecom market space have been helping as well. data prices have crashed. that is another big emerging trend. data is becoming cheaper and cheaper, making access easier. i think there would be a maximum of about 500 million consumers in india who will be travelling domestically and by this year all of them will be on the internet. that is the second big change that we are seeing and the third big emerging trend is again related to both mobile and data. people want to have a look at the destination and what they would like to do there in a much more interactive way. that is where videos come in to play. we are seeing video consumption for travel in a very big way. when people are looking for a destination they are looking at destination videos, videos in terms of what they can do there etc. they are not only well informed from am information perspective but also know what the destination and the activities look like. that is something which is a very big trend and especially in india. video now we have almost 400 million people on the internet in india out of which at least 250 million are using smart phones. singaporeans or the visitors coming to visit us. how do we cater to the customers? there is always a constant search for improvement. even if you look at the toilets in the changi airport, you can actually give immediate feedbacks about things like janitorial services. i think it is along those lines, it is processes. tourism is not a science but is supposed to be emotional and experiential but i think that all of us know the resident system in process in managing it makes a lot more sense. so, i think the way we have been doing it is hearing the consumers and seeing where we can improve how it is we deliver the experience. vishal: siddharth, the question is the same, it is about the new age traveller, the independence customisation, co- creation and unique local experiences. you are not a travel company. how is it that an organisation like yours is actually appealing to this customer and how are you evolving with these trends that are changing quickly? sometimes you are actually ahead of the curve and even force some of these changes and then everybody else follows including the travel industry. i wanted your perspective on this to start with. siddharth: in google, our philosophy is to really listen to the consumer in a very very big way. the user is the highest priority and whatever products google makes is while keeping in mind the end consumer. the end consumer has to have the best of the experiences, be it online or ofﬂine. if we are not able to provide a solution or a technology which is aligning with the consumer need then consumers reject google or anybody for that matter. that is something that needs to be done continuously. we are fortunate consumption for travel, in india, is much higher than other countries. vishal: you are one of the disruptors that uses technology to provide a service that is currently unchallenged. it is a category name synonymous with online search, an essential part of any digital marketer. your brand recall is that of a search engine and not as a travel operator as opposed to the other main stream sites in the travel domain. does that go against you or does that work for you perfectly because we have seen google flights, google trips etc. and they are as powerful as the other classical travel companies that would be able to provide a service like that to a consumer directly? siddharth: we are still in the business of information. we are trying to provide the most relevant information for the end user. that could be a traveller or any other consumer. even our travel products are focussed on providing information, and not providing fulﬁlment or the end experience of the traveller. to be very honest, google does not know travel and i think the future lies in making the search engine more assistive. that is where we are focussed. we want to be like a utility which is being used by consumers every day and they cannot do without, and that is the test we apply. we ask ourselves that can we be the assistant to the consumer where any question that they have in mind can be answered relevantly by us in the shortest possible time? this is what we are trying to do for all the products related to our domain. vishal: sriram, we have spoken about personalisation and the individual.
on li n e : f icc i su m m it 27 in this granularity of personalisation, is there a need for some of us, when we service our customers, to be everything to everybody or should we be something to someone? how in our current scheme of things what are our current imperatives when we run our businesses especially from a classical tour operating kind of an environment? sriram: when we started, there were a lot of technology driven companies coming in. any traditional tour operator felt having that having a call centre and a website is enough to take care of the technological aspect per say. but if you look at today, the customer at a click of a button, can see the destination, knows what exactly is happening in the destination and what are the experiences available at the destination. actually, that is a challenge to our front end as well because most of our front end does not even know the availability in the destination whereas the customer now comes equipped with all the essential information. this raises an interesting question. are we on the right side of technology or do we have enough ﬁrepower to take on this driver of change? if you look at it, having a call centre and a website only is not going to help us. today, i think, robotics is going to take over our business. i think, chat bots and things like that are going to be the future of our business because people are getting increasingly comfortable with technological integrations in their lives and due to this data mining is going to happen. the future of our business is deﬁnitely going in that direction. there are three big trends that we see both in india and to some extent throughout the world. one is this rise of mobile and it is all on the go. data is becoming cheaper and cheaper, making access easier. i think there would be a maximum of about 500 million consumers in india who will be travelling domestically and by this year all of them will be on the internet. ,, today, the customer at a click of a button, can see the destination, knows what exactly is happening in the destination and what are the experiences available at the destination. actually, that is a challenge to our front end as well because most of our front end does not even know the availability in the destination whereas the customer now comes equipped with all the essential information. ,, from the airline perspective, what the airlines need to continue to do and evolve is to create usps and niche pockets. attention to detail is very important because everybody has an economy, business and first class seat but how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors and give your customers value for money? coming to social media, i think social media is a very powerful and upcoming medium for all of us here. ,, siddharth dhabade head of industry, google india sriram rajmohan ceo and md, club 7 holidays neerja bhatia vp, etihad airways, indian subcontinent vishal: how do you think you are changing your organisation or your business to deliver that experience to that customer. while i agree that people are getting increasingly comfortable with technology, the hand-crafted experience still needs to be delivered to them. what is your perspective from a tour operator’s stand point? sriram: now when we send out our staff, we tell them to look for experiences rather than just focussing on sightseeing. the traditional way of looking at our contracting and service is changing. today that is also a challenge due to the dearth of talent in the industry. so, what happens is, we also go through with the help of destination marketing companies, service providers and ﬁnd out about the experiences that we can deliver in such a way that the customer comes back to us for the next destination. so, i think it is a very challenging situation and the solution is not a very straightforward one. vishal: vikram, the question that i am asking is: do you want to be everything for everyone, something for someone or do you want to be something for everyone? vikram: i think today where customers are evolved to the point that they have multiple options and they know how to exercise those options through multiple means, you better be providing a product that serves and solves one particular problem. if you are trying to create a solution for a problem that does not exist or if you are trying to offer a sub parcel, you customer will walk away purely because he or she has the beneﬁt of information. what we have realised is that the old sales process of putting your product out there, focussing on people, the awareness consideration decision phase etc. are all sort of merging today. there is a lot more room for impulse purchases and you need to be where your customers are. you need to be communicating with them not just as brands but also partners of a community that they are a part of. i will just give you a couple of examples of what we do in terms of reaching out to our customers. in addition to all the online tools, on the ofﬂine side we run a travel story telling series called the lime diaries and the notion of that is that travel is ultimately about storytelling. based on the kind of groups they travel with. for the longest time the travel industry has been focussing on visiting friends and relatives, travelling with family or business travel. what we are saying is that it is evolving a little bit more. the leisure side is evolving now in to let us say, women travelling with other women, self-drives, yoga, health and wellness retreats, music, lgbtq, which is a huge market in india, and we do not talk about it and so forth. there is a huge under current of people within a particular community that want to travel with each other. these are people who now have a lot of money, who travel abroad to meet family but then what do they do the rest of the year? for us some of the other categories that we are seeing a lot of interest in, something as simple as yoga retreats, which have been around for a while, now people want to move to the himalayas and do yoga. this year we experimented with spiritual retreats. we had one of india’s top psychics put out a request to travel and we had about 80 people who signed up in 15 minutes. we could not accommodate them all but the idea was that there is a demand. the traveller of tomorrow will want to travel as much for the destination as for the people that they experience those moments with. vishal: i think you need to cover what is the way forward for travel companies in india. is it an aggregator model, where the traveller can pick and choose, is it a bespoke experience model, is it a consultant that guides the informed customer because the customer is very well informed, a marketplace model which will mix and match the services or is it none of the above? the second element i wanted to discuss was, what is the role that social media will play going forward? srithar: i think all of us have a challenge of making technology personalised with a heart. allow me to explain. all of us are in to an age of data analytics. tourism is looking at two different projects. one is the tourism data hub and there is another which is tourism information hub. the tourism information hub is going to give you information and content which can then be customised to share information that is relevant to the to the audiences. the people are getting increasingly comfortable with technological integrations in their lives and due to this data mining is going to happen. so, it is a speaker series where we have had fairly well known speakers who come and it is an event series that we are going to be running across the country so you have people who show up. the second thing that we are doing is with virtual reality. the customer of the future is going to be sitting in front of you and saying, ‘where do you want to send me right now?’. the customer is not going to be looking at a video or a photo but they are going to be in jordan, experiencing the country as it is meant to be experienced. now when you have a future which is moving towards this, how do you stay relevant? the idea there is to create content that can appeal to customers in far better ways than traditional media has. to summarises what i was trying to say, for us it has become extremely essential now to be where the customer is and to speak the language the customer wants. it is no longer about being active on social media because social media is also just a way of life now. people spend more time online on facebook than they do on google. if you recognise that and you spread yourself in places that your customers are, you will win. to answer your question about being everything for everyone, i do not think that it is actually possible anymore. i think you have to take a stand and stick with it. vishal: you have, in the past, mentioned 11 broad experiential themes that you have picked out as an organisation. so, on what basis do you pick up these themes? vikram: for us, we look at travel as being an experience that you share with someone that you want to share it with, who has similar likes and interests and so on. and therefore, our communities today isolate travellers tourism data hub is something where we draw what are the analytics. by the end of it, the consumer is not interested in talking to a faceless organisation. so, the technology has to be enabling but at the end of the day the consumer wants to be talking to someone with a human touch. so, how do we make technology come across with a heart. the second point about social media and how i see it? i think as i said it is my story, my voice etc. the evolution of social media has to be in a way that perhaps that the technolo- gies and the systems that we use have to allow a lot more of cross sharing. there will be communities that will be formed and are going to grow bigger and bigger. so, talking about social media, what we may have to look at is how do we cater to different social media communities in those spheres that we would like to operate in? neerja: i would say with the way the current society is moving more towards technology, it is very important that the human touch is there. the humans predominantly need to play a very consultant kind of a role. from the airline perspective, what the airlines need to continue to do and evolve is to create usps and niche pockets. attention to detail is very important because everybody has an economy, business and ﬁrst class seat but how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors and give your customers value for money? coming to social media, i think social media is a very powerful and upcoming medium for all of us here. from the airline perspective, it is a fantastic medium to connect and engage with your customers. this is the way to connect with your target audience. of course, it is also an opportunity to showcase your products, specially the new usps and the new products that you are launching.
28 tech n ology: am ade us re po rt trends in online travel: evolve, expand or expire, says amadeus report to remain competitive, online travel players have to think ahead and adapt their product and business models based on anticipated changes and potential disruptions of the ecosystem. excerpts from the recently released report on the state of online travel. many people are resistant to change. we often ignore uncertain situations in the hope of maintaining the status quo. but change is inevitable and the unforeseen can, and often does, occur. we are already working in a quickly changing industry where disruptive business models are blurring the lines between players, and new emerging technologies, such as chatbots and virtual reality, are taking root. hotel and air ticket market. ctrip also took a stake in travelfusion, which links low-cost airlines and hotels with otas, booking tools, travel search, and mobile services. these marriages have also brought a change in business strategy. trafﬁc monetisation with online advertising has become a great commercial opportunity for otas, which are largely dependent on search engine marketing (sem) and therefore need to optimise costs. our main objective with this project was otas and metasearch companies are tour operators, providing a happy mix of digital and human interaction, combined with convenience and speed. however, in the 21st century, people expect not only cool surroundings, a lively atmosphere and human help, but also the technology to be able to do it themselves in a friendly environment, which is evident in apple stores and the lobbies of lifestyle hotels. user-generated content (ugc) is becoming ever more compelling to consumers. experience is everything. otas, on the other hand, are purely digital and have continued to invest in technology. although a digital tour operator has yet to grace the high street, the probability of such an eventuality is high. and the relationship will not stop there. we can easily imagine a scenario where digital tour operators will have a cool concept brick and mortar store, where customers will be attended by engaging, trained agents – which we like to refer to as a ‘travel mate’ – using the latest technology. mobile travel retailer go to almost any country and look around: people are surgically attached to converging – and to a powerful effect. while metasearch companies move on to assisted booking (metabooking), otas are now advertising to customers to increase revenues, and these huge entities allow customers to search, book and pay all in one place. they have become online travel retailers (otr). we ﬁrst saw a shift from transaction- based to advertising based revenues in the us and there are clear signs that the wider metasearch ecosystem is changing in several ways. from being online referral operators, otas are becoming super online advertising businesses, and as a result they are operating in a highly competitive environment. devices, mobile-ﬁrst design is essential ◗ new travel life cycle: giving travel retailers the ability to connect with travellers throughout their journey from booking through to their return home and beyond ◗ customer loyalty: mobile users will have installed a limited number of apps per activity (social media, news, travel). while it is easy to move from one website to another in a browser, app users are likely to stick to the same apps and be more loyal ◗ new marketing channels: otas widely use leading it companies for advertising campaigns on desktop but have to think of alternative ways to advertise on mobile ◗ cross-sell and up-sell: by pushing relevant notiﬁcations at the right time in the traveller’s journey mobile is deﬁnitely a game changer for everyone. however, mobile with advanced technology and social media will push the boundaries still further and the same may extend to the world of wearables. the mobile travel retailer would be characterised by: new ways of search and engagement: mobile brings together many technologies (voice recognition, bluetooth, sensors, ﬁngerprints, etc.) and leverages other innovations such as beacons, internet of things and virtual reality. together, these technologies can lead to unprecedented opportunities for search and inspiration chatbots: enabling full booking flow, servicing and payment end-to-end service: the app would go beyond just servicing the traveller but would also be used by someone not travelling for destination services, user generated content and other innovative services that will keep servicing and inspiring the customer for their next trip mobile travel retailers will disrupt markets with high mobile penetration and present a new way to stay with customers before, during and after a trip, presenting further opportunities to sell. they will facilitate the ultimate end-to-end experience. mobile travel retailers will disrupt markets with high mobile penetration and present a new way to stay with customers before, during and after a trip, presenting further opportunities to sell. they will facilitate the ultimate end-to-end experience. conclusion these scenarios may be projections but there are already clear indications that they may materialise. to remain competitive, online travel players will have to respond to the changes already taking place and anticipate the potential disruptions of the future, or they will be overtaken by more relevant and agile competitors. decisions made today are critical to their survival, and however tempting it is to remain in the comfortable and familiar status quo, standing still is not an option. companies need to decide to evolve, expand or expire. embrace the “black swan”! so, which future are you going to embrace and how are you going to adapt? at amadeus, we focus on delivering more content and technology to support your business model, so that you can focus your investments in customers and marketing and adapt to the future you want to be a part of. to help us answer the question: “what should travel players be doing today to prepare for the different scenarios unfolding before us?” with this question in mind, we have identified the evolution of four different scenarios: ◗ the rise of mega online travel retailers: the consolidation between ota and metasearch business models, as well as the rise of online advertising, could lead to a new kind of online travel retailer ◗ introducing digital tour operators: traditional tour operators and otas may merge to become the ultimate travel seller. from handling complex trips to servicing with new generation travel stores, digital travel operators could provide a happy mix of digital and human interaction to create a personalized travel experience ◗ the rise of more sophisticated mobile travel retailers: imagine an addictive mobile travel agency app that accompanies the traveller along the entire journey. rather than being a complementary distribution channel, mobile could become the only means of distribution and the only app a traveller needs – or wants ◗ the new travel marketplace: with more and more leading it players and e-commerce giants creating demand for new and innovative platforms, the players of the travel industry could come together and build their own travel marketplace platform for otas, airlines, hotels, and other travel- related companies to sell their products and services. the question is, how will the suppliers use the platform to create and maintain meaningful relationships with the travellers? mega online travel retailers in an increasingly saturated market, with major otas already owning the largest market share, how can they expand and grow even further? until recently, metasearch companies and otas lived separate but complementary lives, simultaneously working together while also competing for the same customers. having made a choice, online shoppers are often oblivious to which site they use to make a purchase, i.e. whether it is a metasearch or an ota site. but consolidation blurs the lines between ota and metasearch business models. otas are exploring the advertising model and even buying their own marketing channels. a few examples include expedia’s acquisition of trivago, travelocity north america and orbitz worldwide; to remain competitive, online travel players will have to respond to the changes already taking place and anticipate the potential disruptions of the future, or they will be overtaken by more relevant and agile competitors. digital tour operators the tour operator traditionally provides a physical experience on the high street, with colourful, well-designed glossy brochures and friendly, helpful, well-informed consultants who eventually get to know their clients quite well. human contact is key. and everything is taken care of – no need to go online and try to get ﬂights that align with the availability of the accommodation, as it all comes in one package. now consumers are often faced with a myriad of holiday offers from many channels, so tour operators are fast evolving to capitalise on their key assets and expertise. tour operators have to chart a new course to ensure they stand out on all fronts: they need to be seen on the street, inspire on their website, be ﬂexible in their offers, active in social media, sharp on ads, and mobile right up to their customers’ pockets – and, most importantly, they must remain relevant to their customers through personalisation and ﬂexibility. as a result, they are looking to upgrade their technology and ways of working. at the same time, otas are adopting dynamic packaging technology that allow them to create packages and are therefore offering the same service to customers online or are giving customers the ability to create their own. their mobile. we are nearly always either talking on it, processing e-mails, texting, shopping, or enjoying other so-called micro-moments. allegedly, more people own a mobile than a toothbrush. and we can’t forget that wearable technology is fast gaining ground, whether in watches, glasses or armbands. currently, many online travel retailers make their offer available on a number of distribution channels, including mobile with responsive web design or apps, although this is usually used as a complementary channel rather than the only means of distribution. in this scenario, we imagine a mobile travel retailer with an addictive app, accompanying the traveller throughout the journey. mobile is no longer a platform but it’s a way of life. by 2020, worldwide smartphone subscriptions are projected to top 6.1 billion and these numbers will continue to increase as prices decrease. 53% of cleartrip’s trafﬁc comes from mobile and 70% of its mobile customers are now using mobile as their only channel for transaction. and mobile travel bookings in europe are growing exponentially, as is general mobile commerce. otas and airlines are already adapting to this changing behaviour, imagining a new travel life cycle and rethinking their mobile strategy: ◗ mobile-ﬁrst design: with the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and other smart priceline’s link with kayak; and, most we see converging models between signiﬁcantly, chinese ota ctrip’s share swap deal with baidu, which owns ota qunar, taking control of around 80% of the chinese these two players giving rise to new growth avenues in the area of complex trip handling and servicing. they are becoming digital
outbou n d: du bai 29 at atm 2017, gulf countries council turns to india to boost tourism in the region colliers international shared their findings about the indian market being the biggest gainer in terms of growth in the gyan bhushan economic advisor, government of india by vasujit kalia colliers international at arabian travel market shared these ﬁndings on april 24, 2017 at dubai world trade centre during a seminar entitled ‘capitalising on experiential travel: china & india mega source markets’. already key markets for the region, china counts an average of 122 million outbound tourists annually and india contributes 22 million, with overseas spending calculated to be $252 billion and $15.4 billion respectively in 2015. china’s outbound tourism market is currently growing, on average, 6.7% year- on-year, while india’s market posts average annual growth of 7%. gyan bhushan, economic advisor, government of india who was present during the occasion, said “i’m happy to be a part of this global event. both uae and india have shared a healthy relationship in the past. it is the government of india’s initiative to promote yoga, wellness and we are trying to promote it across the world. we are looking to attract tourists into india and for the same e visa has been liberalized. it is valid for 60 days and entitles you for entry thrice.” the gcc is home to a number of globally- recognized tourist attractions and continues to draw visitors from all over the world as a result. as markets in europe and other gcc countries continue to feel the pressure of low oil prices and depreciated currency rates, it is key that tourism bodies and private sector hospitality, travel and tourism brands continue to explore new markets. specially speaking to tourism first magazine, vinit dinesh shah, chief destination management ofﬁcer at dubai parks and resorts said “we plan to capitalize on growth of visitors to dubai from the key apac region during a seminar held at the dubai world trade centre. i’m happy to be a part of this global event. both uae and india have shared a healthy relationship in the past. it is the government of india’s initiative to promote yoga, wellness and we are trying to promote it in across the world. ,, if we look at the results published by dubai tourism, the number of visitors to dubai has increased. they have done a lot by giving visa relaxations for china, russia and india. ,, as part of our vision to attract one million visitors to ras al khaimah by the end of 2018, india will be an important contributor, and is currently our fourth largest international source market. ,, haitham mattar ceo, ras al khaimah tourism development authority vinit dinesh shah chief destination management officer dubai parks and resorts source markets to achieve the footfalls for 2017. the company plans to open upcoming attractions six flags park and legoland hotel. six flags park is expected to open in 2019 but inauguration of legoland is yet to be conﬁrmed. the company has a target to attract 5.5 million unique guests to dubai parks and resorts and 6.7 million in total visits. if we look at the results published by dubai tourism the number of visitors to dubai has increased. they have done a lot by giving visa relaxations for china, russia and india and all these elements will help bring in the tourists from these countries into uae.” the trend is largely proliferated by the indian market, creating culturally tailored experiences in order to boost their reputation in the guest’s home market. colliers international also assessed the compatibility of key gcc destinations with four traveller types: corporate, mice attendees, leisure ﬁrst-timers and experienced leisure travellers, for both indian and chinese visitors. the uae scored the highest level of compatibility for both nationalities thanks to its blend of modernity and culture, strong trade ties with both countries and growing airlift between major cities. in both dubai and abu dhabi, india was the in both dubai and abu dhabi, india was the top performing source market in 2016. in dubai, 1.8 million nationals arrived last year compared to 1.6 million in 2015 and in abu dhabi. increasing levels of personal wealth and a demand for experiential travel. india, meanwhile, is home to 433,000 hnwi, with 59 million considered urban middle and educated urban and 97 million counted as urban blue collar workers. making a total of 12 recommendations concerning visas, accommodation, cultural sensitivities and marketing, the report advises gcc-wide multi-entry visas with similar principles to the schengen area; hotel welcome kits and signage in guests’ native languages; promotion of cultural celebrations and festivals from each country; and targeted loyalty programmes. according to the report, hotels should aim for a volume-driven strategy when tapping top performing source market in 2016. in dubai, 1.8 million nationals arrived last year compared to 1.6 million in 2015 and in abu dhabi, which welcomed a record-breaking 4.4 million visitors in total in 2016, 323,388 were indian. according to the ﬁgures from abu dhabi tourism and culture authority, this marked an increase of 15% for 2015. as per the ﬁgures of ras al khaimah tourism development authority visitors from india to ras al khaimah in q1 2017 grew by 35 per cent, while the number of guest nights taken by indian tourists grew 49.4 per cent in the same period, when compared to q1 2016. furthermore, the average length of stay of indian guests in q1 2017 has grown by 10.6 per cent. haitham mattar who was appointed in may 2015 as ceo of ras al khaimah tourism devel- opment authority to drive business and leisure tourism into the emirate spoke about the ras al khaimah tourism development authority's am- bitious plans of attracting one million visitors to ras al khaimah by the end of 2018. “as part of our vision to attract one million visitors to ras al khaimah by the end of 2018, india will be an important contributor, and is currently our fourth largest international source market. we have seen a growing trend from indian inbound tourism for short leisure stays, mice and in the wedding sector. our aim is to promote the full breadth of unique activities and events that can be enjoyed in the emirate, with a view to encourage indian travellers to lengthen their stay in the destination. we are optimistic that through focused efforts and participation in various roadshows and trade events, tourism from india will continue to develop in the coming years,” said haitham mattar, ceo, ras al khaimah tourism development authority. oman, which demonstrated the highest compatibility with corporate arrivals, welcomed 299,568 indian tourists to the sultanate in 2016. numbers increased 17% in 2015 compared to 2014 and, over the last ﬁve years, oman has seen an increase of 60% in the number of arrivals from india. capitalizing on its breath-taking scenery, oman is also working to promote itself as a wedding destination to tourists from west bengal and kolkata. in qatar, indian visitors enjoyed a higher compatibility across all four visitor types, with the country now the second largest source market after saudi arabia. numbers are expected to grow in line with the launch of several high-proﬁle sport and leisure attractions over the coming years. top 10 source markets rank in 2016 % share of dubai’s total visitors s.no. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 country percentage india ksa uk oman pakistan usa china iran germany kuwait 12 % 11 % 8 % 7 % 4 % 4 % 4 % 3 % 3 % 3 %
30 outbou n d: egyp t egypt tourism taps outbound eyeing new markets, diversified inbound: chairman speaking about egypt’s road to recovery since the west-imposed travel ban was lifted after significant improvement in the political situation, and the importance of tourism for the recuperating economy of the country, hisham el demery, spoke to tourismfirst and discussed the significance of the indian market for egyptian tourism. edited excerpts from the interview held on the sidelines of egyptian tourism road show held in the capital recently. egypt has been suffering from 2011. the brand perception has been negatively affected due to the circumstances. you have to understand that more than 75% of our business mix is coming from western europe and namely from four countries which are russia, uk, germany and italy. so, we are trying, without ignoring these partners, to open and invest in new markets like asia and east europe. this strategy has materialised good success during the past few months. ,, tends to be longer. we offer people the opportunity to mix the cultural experiences of egypt with products like beach holidays. we have desert safaris, the holy family trip, medical tours, etc. we have quite a lot as egypt is a lot of cultures in one country. now we are open to many of the requirements of the indian market because there is a lot of appetite over here. where does india fit in to the pecking order? also, what is happening in the western market, especially in the united states? have you seen a change in numbers and footfalls? deﬁnitely. egypt has been suffering from 2011. the brand perception has been negatively affected due to the circumstances. you have to understand that more than 75% of our business mix is coming from western europe and namely from four countries which are russia, uk, germany and italy. so, we are trying, without ignoring these partners, to open and invest in new markets like asia and east europe. this strategy has materialised good success during the past few months. hisham el demery chairman, egyptian tourism promotion board by shashank shekhar you are on a road to recovery, so to speak. what has ticked as far as the indian outbound is concerned? what would you attribute this rise to? we are seeing a very good improvement from the indian market in to egypt. in 2016, it was around 80,000 and if we compare the ﬁrst quarter of 2016 to the ﬁrst quarter of this year, there has been an almost 35% increase. yet, the ﬁgures do not really match up to our ambitions. we are looking forward to having more and more because the bi-lateral co- operation between the two countries is quite strong. deﬁnitely, this has to be translated as well in to the tourism industry. we are not looking at the indian country or the people as ﬁgures or as numbers only. we are looking in to this market as shared habits, traditions, culture, civilisations etc. there is a huge potential and we can really utilise and hence convert these in to ﬁgures. now that you have specifically mentioned cultural ties, traditional links and all of these aspects, what is the positioning that you would like to have for the image of egypt as a destination? egypt for the indian people is all about culture and culture is the backbone of the tourism industry of egypt. we have a diversity of products which we can bring in to the indian market like beach holidays, safaris etc. i am sure that there are many alternative products nearby but when people come in to egypt, the length of their stay where would you put tourism in your larger economic growth as far as your country is concerned? how critical is tourism to egypt for its national growth and does it reflect on your outreach as well? tourism is a great factor in having foreign currency come in to the country. it is a huge opportunity for employment, empowering the gdp and for the economy as a whole. it is really improving and now we can say that, after lifting of the travel bans from most of the european countries in to egypt, we are heading in the right direction and slowly but truly everything is coming back. you spoke about expanding your markets, india being one of them. can you name a few other markets that you are looking to reach out to? you have mentioned that more than 75% of your traffic comes from western europe. what about places like latin america, australia, new zealand etc.? latin america is a big potential for us. east european countries like ukraine, poland, romania etc. all these markets are high potential markets. i do not have to forget about the arab markets which is a very supportive market for us. india and the asian markets are also a huge potential for us and we are looking to generate substantial ﬁgures from these markets. what are some tourism pegs that you believe egypt’s overall standing as a destination are based on? culture and civilisation is one, food is another. your insights? i would say that egypt is a very exclusive destination because we have many exclusive products and items which are not available anywhere else. we have our ancient civilisations, year-round guaranteed sunshine, beautiful weather, diversity of products and a very mixed demography. egypt is a cosmopolitan country and over and above are the egyptians themselves. the hospitality and kindness of the egyptians is actually making egypt the second home for travellers who come in to the country. a lot of your neighbours, jordan for example, are trying to get a share of the wedding outbound from india. are you also looking at tapping some of these niche segments out of india? deﬁnitely. i had several meetings with many decision makers related to these investments. very soon we are going invite many of them to our country to see and to review the potentiality that we have in our country in order to attract the niche segments coming out of the indian market. we have many iconic places and will be provoking all the niche segments like wedding planning, honeymooners, movie makers etc. as it is all about memorable experiences, iconic places and engraved memories. nowhere else in the world will you ﬁnd such opportunities ﬁtting all these niche segments. middle east’s first eco-friendly mall to open in oman in 2018 middle east’s ﬁrst eco- friendly £127 million luxury mall ‘al araimi boulevard’ is set to open in 2018 in oman. the mall being developed by al raid group, will be located in al khoud, is set to be spread over 147,000 sqm, set over two ﬂoors and will house the largest food court as well as glass atrium in oman. with a strong commitment to using sustainable energy sources, al araimi boulevard’s large glass ceiling makes use of photovoltaic technology, which will generate clean, and free solar power, making it oman’s ﬁrst shopping centre to integrate solar panel energy supply. speaking about the recent development, lubaina sheerazi, india representative, ministry of tourism, oman said, “the sultanate of oman makes conscious effort to balance the ever growing economic development whilst protecting the environment for future generations. with the launch of this world-class eco-friendly shopping & entertainment park, we are anticipating a new trend in eco-tourism that will revolutionize the shopping and leisure experience not only for the locals but for the tourists as well.” visitors will be able to choose from a combination of high end boutique brands on offer, as well as anchor stores which are located throughout the mall. a 6,000 sqm entertainment area will be dedicated to family visitors, as there will be a large interactive learning area, alongside space for live shows and performances. younger children will enjoy kid’s planet, which will be a dedicated children’s play area, and a 10-screen cinema complex will offer the latest releases for the community, complete with 4dx cinema screens. al araimi boulevard will additionally feature oman’s largest food court, a 1,200-seat dining hall with 20 food and beverage outlets, as well as 14 outdoor restaurants overlooking the landscaped gardens. there will also be a gallery space in the premise, which will host community works, including young upcoming omani artists. the destination will be equipped with 3,000 parking spaces, and will make use of a new smartphone app that would allow visitors to secure parking spaces in advance of their trip. the carpark will also include car drop off and valet parking, as well as car wash services. construction has begun on the site, and the project has been slated for completion by september 2018.
outbou n d: egyp t 31 perception change increase 54% indian arrivals in q1 to egypt: ismail amer tourismfirst spoke to egyptian tourism counsellor and regional director, egyptian tourism authority; ismail a. hamid amer about egypt’s focus on the indian market, key segments and the impact of improved domestic political climate on travel and tourism into the country. edited excerpts: by anagat choudhary what is the purpose of this outreach here today and how is it panning out for you? we believe that the indian market is a very big market for us and we know that our partners from india are scattered across the whole country. we realised that and so we decided to start on a long process of doing roadshows in the country to cover different cities starting from tier-i and so forth. it is a long plan of covering all of india and visiting all the regions to introduce our products, both mainstream and off beat, to our indian friends. what are the segments that you are focussing on? is it leisure, some specific niches, wellness, anything? in general, we are targeting everybody and all the people who work for the tourism industry because we have it all. we have a product that can accommodate all the needs and requirements of the indian clients. starting from mice, or be it weddings, or movie shootings, or leisure, or special interests like golf, we have it all. it is a kind of a capsule that comprises of lots of activities and products at the same place. we are here to say that we have it all and we are ready to accommodate all the needs of our indian clients. we even had a workshop which was dedicated only to production houses from india as well as a workshop for wedding planners just to address their requirements and needs. these workshops for running simultaneously with the road show in mumbai. what are the key markets for you in india? markets from which you churn out the most business? mumbai is the nearest point to us and we even have direct ﬂights from mumbai to cairo. then comes delhi as it is the capital. these are followed by bengaluru, kochi and chennai. we receive a lot of pilgrimage tourists from kochi as egypt is a part of the holy family trip. we selected eight sites of the trip and we promoted them as a special package. besides that, all the cities are giving us a good response but it needs to start matching up to our expectations. the first quarter of 2017 has been fairly good for you. you have recorded a substantial increase in numbers from india. what would you attribute this to? it is not like that. first of all, we did a good job last year in terms of advertising and also, we had a joint advertising campaign which ran in november-december, and was an outdoor and online campaign. we also had buy and sell b2b and b2c. ready to use packages 21-23 september call: +91 97177 64717 email: [email protected] this year itself we had celebrities like will smith, parineeti chopra, pope francis, angela merkel and so forth. all of this has been done this year itself. they are our chief guests and conveying the message practically. these are people who have huge concerns when it comes to security and would not choose to visit a place where they do not feel comfortable and safe.,, ismail a. hamid amer egyptian tourism counselor & rd, eta a very strong presence in some of the major exhibitions being held in india last year. we have had very extensive media coverage because last year we sent more than thirty journalists to egypt to explore its beauties. all this has been extremely fruitful in giving us exposure and we have had very good coverage in some of the leading magazines. all of this has been a major contributor for us to have come up to this number. another thing is the change of the perception of the indian people about the situation in egypt and the stability and the security. i think the stability and security situation has been addressed quite substantially? yes, correct. first of all, we managed to speaking, all the european countries have lifted the bans against egypt in the last few months. this means that their intelligence systems understand that egypt has resolved its problems and that is why the travel bans have been lifted. we have seen that direct air- connectivity can do wonders for any destination. take dubai for example. are you looking to increase direct connectivity between the two countries? so far, the setup is still giving good results because the transit time between the countries is only two hours and so, a six- hour ﬂight becomes an eight-hour ﬂight. it all the european countries have lifted the bans against egypt in the last few months. this means that their intelligence systems understand that egypt has resolved its problems. invite some celebrities, not only from india but across the world, to egypt, to deliver this message practically. this year itself we had celebrities like will smith, parineeti chopra, pope francis, angela merkel and so forth. all of this has been done this year itself. actually, we were supposed to have the ‘big b’, amitabh bachchan, visit us as well but he had to regretfully cancel at the last moment due to some family commitments on his end. we cannot say that these people are our brand ambassadors but they are our chief guests and they are conveying the message practically. these are people who have huge concerns when it comes to security and would not choose to visit a place where they do not feel comfortable and safe. on the other hand, politically is not a big deal when it comes to the mid segment. but, i agree with you that having direct ﬂights, especially from delhi here, will give us big mileage because it will give an impression that egypt is a nearby destination. if you compare the travel time from india to egypt, it is almost the same from india to london or even jakarta. because there is good connectivity with these places, indians do not think of them as far-away places. the same thing is what we are trying to achieve for egypt and is one of the points that we are trying to tackle in this road show and afterwards as well. we are trying to make arrangements for direct ﬂights, especially from delhi. we are aware that air connectivity is an issue and it has to be solved.
32 outbou n d: rom an ia romania pitches for a share of the outbound; asia top priority, says envoy cristina tarteata, secretary of state, ministry of tourism, romania recently visited the country and met important officials from the government to give a presentation on romanian products and promote tourism between the two countries. tourismfirst spoke to radu dobre, ambassador of romania to india and discussed some of the challenges faced by the romanian tourism industry. edited excerpts: by anagat choudhary the indian outbound is being wooed by the global travel industry. with the number of indian travellers travelling globally expected to reach 30 million in 2018, romania is looking at more travel trade engagements with the indian counterpart in the coming years to promote their country as a tourism destination. a representative ofﬁce has been setup in beijing, china which will additionally engage with the romanian embassy in delhi to coordinate and monitor all market activities in india. giving more ﬁllip to the bilateral engagement, the phd chamber of commerce and industry recently organized an interactive session with cristina tarteata, secretary of state, ministry of tourism, romania and radu dobre, ambassador of romania to india where the secretary gave a presentation showcasing the beauty and tourism opportunities of romania. during the presentation aimed at showcasing key tourism destinations and products, cristina said that she wanted indians to consider romania as a destination of choice for leisure as well as business travel. “romania has everything that a traveller aspires for. romania has unspoilt nature for nature-based tourism, country- side which follows ancient customs and traditions for rural tourism, mineral and thermal springs for health and wellness tourism,” she said. “china, india, south korea, japan are among the asian travel markets romania is keen to target,” added the secretary. romania has unspoilt nature for nature-based tourism, country-side which follows ancient customs and traditions for rural tourism, mineral and thermal springs for health and wellness tourism. we are aggressively looking for newer markets, especially in asia. the attempt is to understand the specific demands and requirements of each market and finalise strategies based on those requirements. “we are aggressively looking for newer markets, especially in asia. the attempt is to understand the speciﬁc demands and requirements of each market and ﬁnalise strategies based on those requirements, “she further said. highlighting latest developments with regards to increasing connectivity between the two countries and giving pertinent insight into the romanian tourism board’s latest plans, the romanian ambassador spoke to tourismfirst. edited excerpts: what are some of the source countries for tourism for romania? where does india stand in this regard? so far, the main source of tourists in our country has been europe. but, now we are looking at and opening up to the asian market. the secretary is visiting india after a trip from singapore. of course, india and china are two very big markets and we are now open to these markets. i know there is a lot of potential and a lot of interest from india and we are looking to turn that in to a proﬁt for our industry. is there a focus on increasing bi-lateral ties between the two countries to increase people to people movement between the two destinations? about 3 or 4 years ago, we were issuing 1200 visas in the consulate. now the number of people coming from india in to romania for the sole purpose of tourism is around 16,000. we issue more than 6,000 visas at the consulate itself. these have been the ﬁgures since the last about 4 years. i am aware that there is a connectivity issue at the moment as we do not have direct ﬂight to romania from here but we have very good connections through places like doha, dubai, moscow, vienna, istanbul etc. practically speaking these are very hassle free connections and the waiting time at airports for these connecting ﬂights is very little. what are some of the technical integrations that we are looking at that are being used to promote tourism? for the moment, we are concentrating on this event and are looking for partners in india to work with. depending on the speciﬁc interest of the indian public, we will proceed in that direction accordingly. with the world increasingly shifting towards protectionism by petitioning travel curbs, travel bans etc. due to a volatile global atmosphere, are you looking at this as an opportunity to increase bilateral trade and footfalls? we are a country member of the european union and follow the rules of the union. we would never like to discourage a market in favour of another market and right now we consider asia to be a priority. s n i ppets thai prime minister delivered opening remarks at 2017 wttc global summit in bangkok bangkok – h.e. general prayut chan-o-cha, prime minister of thailand, presided over the opening of the 2017 world travel and tourism council (wttc) global summit and delivered opening remarks to more than 800 delegates attending the event. h.e. general tanasak patimapragorn, deputy prime minister of thailand, will preside over the welcome gala dinner specially designed to showcase delegates some of the unique local thai experiences. the appearances of both the thai prime minister and the deputy prime minister at this ﬂagship global private sector event signify thailand’s commitment for the development of the tourism industry, the kingdom’s largest export. h.e. general prayut chan-o-cha said thailand’s tourism revenue rose 21 per cent in 2015 to 2.26 trillion baht (us$66.47 billion), and despite unfavourable world economic conditions, thai tourism sector. registered an 11 per cent growth in 2016 to 2.52 trillion baht (us$74.1 billion). “i am proud that thailand has been selected to host one of the world’s most important international tourism conferences. this reinforces thailand’s readiness to host global conferences in addition to its potential to be a leading travel and tourism hub in asia and the world,” added general prayut. hosted by the ministry of tourism and sports and the tourism authority of thailand (tat), this is the ﬁrst time that the wttc global summit has been held in southeast asia. this year event was also attended by ministers in the tourism and related ﬁelds from 13 nations as well as dr. taleb rifai, secretary-general of united nations world tourism organization (unwto), alongside more than 800 delegates from 58 countries. organised under the theme of “transforming our world,” this year summit was addressed by david cameron, former prime minister of the uk. other speakers include dr. taleb rifai, unwto secretary general; tony fernandes, airasia ceo; david scowsill, wttc president and ceo; gary chapman, president group services & dnata of emirates group; rob rosenstein, agoda ceo; rob torres, google managing director for travel; h. e. kobkarn wattanavrangkul; minster of tourism and sports of thailand; and chadatip chutrakul, ceo siam piwat group. to mark the summit’s ﬁrst time in southeast asia, tat pulled out all the stops to make the event successful and to reiterate thailand’s positive image as a top tourist destination by showcasing some of unique local thai experiences at the welcome gala dinner on 26 april and the two specially-arranged post-event tours, the rustic thailand and bangkok medley tours, on 27 and 28 april 2017. wttc reported that thailand is among the top 10 for the long term tourism growth in the world.
33 33 go golfing we bring you a special feature on top golfing destinations around the world. these unique destinations boast of world-class golfing infrastructure, substantial air-connectivity and several other facets of tourism. from countries in central europe to closer home, southeast asia, take a look at these amazing destinations. au s t ria natural spectacles are part of the golf courses golfers appreciate the golf destina- carinthian society and the noble spa velden, lays the wonderful 18-hole golf course in the middle of a gorgeously unique landscape. tion austria for the large number of golf courses, the excellent quality of the golf hotels and the special golfer a breathtaking view, as well as an unforgettable golf experience. hospitality that golfers experience both in the hotel as well as in the golf clubs. fantastic natural spectacles which can be seen on the golf courses in austria and around the austrian golf hotels belong to a perfect golf vacation. from mostly ﬂat golf courses which offer breathtaking views over the austrian alps to golf courses located in the midst of gorgeous bathing lakes to golf regions sur- rounded by vineyards, within a golf journey through austria golfers get to know the full range of golf offers in austria. all golf in austria hotels in austria offer unique packages for many different needs. the scope of services ranges from low-priced golf weekends directly at the golf course up to luxurious spa hotel in close proximity to many golf courses. however, what they all have in common is the the love of their hosts for the golf sport and the very special aware- ness in the preparation of the golf packages for their guests. golf & country club dachstein tauern – 18 holes designed by bernhard langer amidst the impressing and beautiful dachstein mountain world the golf course designed by bernhard langer stretches out ﬂatly in front of the player. however, this doesn’t mean that the course lacks high- lights. on the contrary: the course waits with many design surprises, like for example hole 6, which reminds of a sandy beach on the bahamas. the hole’s signiﬁcant name is “the beach” – and the naming continues through- out the course. expect a challenge at the long par 3 crocodile hole. the clubhouse, by the way, with its two peaks, has been based on the surrounding mountain world. oberhaus 59, a-8967 haus im ennstal +43 3686 2630 +43 3686 2630 15 e-mail: [email protected] http://www.schladming-golf.at/ golfclub zell am see-kaprun platz kitzsteinhorn – 36 holes enjoyable golﬁng the 36 most beautiful greens between glacier and lake in the middle of the sunny salzach- valley there is the largest golf course in the austrian alps. the two 18-hole courses “schmittenhöhe” and “kitzsteinhorn” are designed in park-like, ﬂat surroundings and offer the right challenge for beginners and pros.both courses offer everything that makes the game attractive and varied: outstanding greens, nice fairways, many natural biotopes and reed-edged lakes imbedded in an idyllic mountain scenery. advice: as guest of one of the numerous partner hotels, you receive a 30% reduction on the green fee! kids under 16 years of age accompanied by an adult play for free! golfstraße 25, a-5700 zell am see +43 6542 56161 0 +43 6542 56161 16 e-mail: [email protected] www.golf-zellamsee.at golfanlage velden köstenberg – 18 holes above the lake wörthersee, amidst a nature’s jewel only 10 minutes from the centre of the the challenging course with quick greens blends harmoniously into the landscape and demands from the keen player with a long rigorous game. beginners will also enjoy the high quality of the course. hole 10 holds accolades from players and has received numerous awards. with an altitude difference from tee 1 to the green of about 70 metres the views will take your breath away; and a teeshot and a long drive is her own golf professionals. finish your training or round with a fabulous meal in our golf restaurant with its acclaimed kitchen, good wines and profes- sional service. providing excellent quality is what drives us. golfweg 41, a-9231 köstenberg +43 4274 7045 +43 4274 708715 e-mail: ofﬁ[email protected] www.golfvelden.at/en/ golfclub lengenfeld kamptal- donauland – 36 holes 36 hole goffcourse amongst the vineyards - goff at its finest combining the golfcourses kamptal (par 71) and donauland (par 72), you may enjoy 36 holes of golf in just a 10-minutes drive from krems and the world cultural heritage wachau. with the motto‚ golf amongst the vineyards: golf at its ﬁnest‘, both courses are splendidly set in the terraced landscape, guaranteeing every in our pro shop, in the recently construct- ed clubhouse, you will ﬁnd everything your golfer’s heart desires. the ‘golfberg stub’n’ welcomes all golf enthusiasts after their round of golf. the bed-and-breakfast inn ‚gschwantner‘ (15 double rooms) is only 2 minutes from the golfcourse. you can book the rooms directly at the golfcourse. the golfcourse and the driving range can be played all year long, thanks to the mild climate at the danube. am golfplatz 1, a-3552 lengenfeld +43 2719 8710 +43 2719 8710 -5 e-mail: ofﬁ[email protected]ﬂengenfeld.at www.golﬂengenfeld.at/ golfclub salzburg championcourse eugendorf – 18 holes a new generation championship course picturesquely embedded in the landscape of salzburg, the course provides a golﬁng chal- lenge for the skilled player and an adventure for beginners. the new‚ golf & cart‘ system provides a unique service only found on the top american courses. the superior atmos- phere is rounded off by the old-english style gentlemen’s club, the superb cuisine and the highly-recommended golf museum in the clubhouse. schamingstraße 17, a-5301 eugendorf +43 6225 70000 +43 6225 70000 33 e-mail: [email protected] www.golfclub-salzburg.at w w w.golf info.at/en/f ind- golf-hotel/
34 34 g o g olf i ng s pain golf lovers!! spain is for you! make a note, get your clubs ready, and come to spain as soon as you can – this is the ideal place for playing your favourite sport for a whole host of reasons. you will ﬁnd golf courses all over the country. spain is synonymous with golf. it is a top destination for lovers of the sport, whatever your level or handicap. urban layouts in large cities, golf clubs on the shoreline, and others in mountainous settings. there is a huge amount on offer, adapted to all levels and to all needs, and at very competitive prices. fun is guaranteed all the way as the courses offer such endless variety. within a radius of just a few kilometers, you can enjoy many dif- ferent and highly singular courses. in spain you are sure to ﬁnd sun and warm tempera- tures at any time of the year. the great weather, superb visibility, lack of wind and pleasant climate are perfect for playing golf. in addition, our country has excellent communications: you can easily travel from one region to another and there are numerous golf courses just a few kilometers from the main international airports. everything is made easy for you to just pick up your clubs and try your skill on the fairways. the wide range of services, plus the quality of hotels and sports facilities, means there really can be no excuse for you not to visit spain and have fun playing your favorite sport. you’re guaranteed a wonderful experience you’ll want to repeat. there are several top golf courses in spain. here we talk about five of the best golf courses of spain. club de golf mataleñas, santander el saler, valencia valderrama golf club, cádiz la manga golf club, cartagena, murcia pga golf catalunya, close to barcelona and girona this beautiful course meets all the require- ments for professional tournaments and is characterized by its difﬁculty. the pre- dominant features of the course are trees and water, and there are also several large lakes. it is long and undulating, ideal for good stroke players and requires precision at the tee-off, given that the greens are surrounded by water. the fairways look quite narrow when starting with the driver, but open out for the second stroke before coming to the broad but concealed greens. it is located about 50 minutes from the city of barcelona and 15 minutes from girona. the club has played host to major international golﬁng events, such as the sarazen world open. it is also one of the main sites for nu- merous national amateur tournaments. general information opened in: 1998 designer: neil coles & angel gallardo setting: mountain number of holes: 18 par for the course: 72 closeby accommodation: can barceló, vichy catalán spa resort, prats spa resort tourist sites closeby city center of barcelona, gaudí´s works, gothic quarter catalonian countryside of girona, dalí museum in figueres el saler, valencia enjoy a round of golf overlooking the medi- terranean sea amid sand dunes and pines in this nature reserve. the work of javier arana, one of spain’s most prestigious designers, its excellent conditions make it similar to the scottish courses. general information opened in: 1968 designer: javier arana setting: coast number of holes: 18 par for the course: 72 closeby accommodation: parador de el saler, sidi saler tourist sites closeby city of arts and sciences of valencia, valencian beaches like la devesa, la garrofera and el perellonet, the albufera nature reserve. club de golf mataleñas, santander this course is located in santander, alongside el sardinero. it has good communications and access, and its facilities are in excellent condi- tion. its greens are well protected, meaning that accuracy is vital. the course is suitable for advanced players and beginners alike, and there are classes available for all levels. general information opened in: 1986 number of holes: 9 closeby accommodation: hoyuela, eurostars hotel real tourist sites closeby magdalena palace, santander cathedral, church of santísimo cristo, pereda gardens, menéndez pelayo library, museum of modern art mas, museum of prehistory, río de la pila funicular, cantabrian maritime museum, gran casino, festivals palace, esperanza market. beaches like mataleñas, molinucos, sardinero i, la concha, el camello, magdalena. valderrama golf club, cádiz easily reached from malaga international airport. its par 71 course is 6,390 meters long and demands high accuracy. valder- rama hosted the volvo masters, the ﬂagship european tour, until 2009. in 1997, the club hosted the 32nd ryder cup, becoming the only club to host this prestigious event outside the british isles and the u.s.a. from 2010, it was the venue of the andalucía mas- ters, one of the most prestigious tournaments on the international calendar. general information opened in: 1985 designer: mr. robert trent jones number of holes: 18 closeby accommodation: nh sotogrande, nh almenara tourist sites closeby san roque club, beach la victoria, gadir archaeological site, torre tavira, playa caleta, cadiz cathedral, cadiz museum. beaches like sotogrande, guadalquitón, torrecarbonera. la manga golf club, cartagena, murcia three courses at la manga club. you can play all year round at the club’s three courses and enjoy the mild temperatures of costa cálida. tennis, horse-riding and the nearby beach, are other attractions of these facilities, set between the sea and the mountains. general information opened in: 1971 designer: robert dean putman & dave thomas setting: coast number of holes: 18 closeby accommodation: príncipe felipe, lomas village & spa tourist sites closeby centre of interpretation of the history of cartagena and the medieval cartagena, consistorial palace (city hall), cartagena archeological museum, roman theatre museum, amphitheatre, naval museum, cervantes house, tourist catamaran, cartagena port, la manga del mar menor. pga golf catalunya ctra. nacional ii, km. 701. apdo. de correos, 60. 17455 caldes de malavella, girona (catalonia). tel.:+34 972472577 el saler, valencia avenida de los pinares, 151. parador nacional-luis vives 46012 saler, el, valencia (valencia). tel: +34 961610384 club de golf mataleñas, santander avenida del faro s/n. 39012 santander, cantabria (cantabria) tel.:+34 942203074 valderrama golf club, cádiz avenida de los cortijos, s/n. 11310 sotogrande, san roque, cadiz (andalusia). tel.:+34 956791200 la manga golf club, cartagena, murcia la manga club resort urbanización la manga club 30389 belones, los, cartagena, murcia (murcia). tel: +34 968331234
g o g olf i ng 35 du b ai meydan course raises dubai’s golfing profile the track, meydan golf has partnered putting, short game and course management. the pga professionals will ensure that your experience is both educational and most importantly fun. with leading golf management company troon to launch a pay and play golf course. the nine-hole course a fully equipped clubhouse completes stretches over 3,700 yards from the back tees, and works its way between a series of natural lakes, which come into play on several ap- proaches. the meydan golf is a daily-fee facility uniquely positioned as an accessible and player-friendly option, catering to every type of golfer – beginners, casual and serious. its player-friendly approach is corroborated by the absence of a dress code on the course. players can be casually attired for a round of golf. the facilities include a ﬂoodlit driving range and academy run by troon. it targets the aspiring new golfers and develops or further hones the skills of current players. all instruction is personalized allowing the golfer to improve their swing and play to the best of their ability. whether improving technique or course management, the team at meydan golf will guide you through and make golf more enjoyable! the meydan academy by troon offers a wide range of coaching and tuition packages for everyone from the complete beginner through to a seasoned golfer. their packages add great value with practice and course access built into them as well as your time with a pga professional. lesson availability is 7 days a week from morning through even- ing. they cover everything from full swing to what is without doubt one of the ﬁnest new additions to golf in the middle east. the clubhouse features a boutique golf shop that stocks taylormade equipment and accessories, full locker room facilities, and multiple dining options including a family- friendly restaurant and a lively sports bar. just a 10-minute drive from the downtown burj dubai area and a 20-minute drive from most areas of dubai and the international airport, the unique city location offers guests unforgettable views of the dubai city skyline and iconic meydan racecourse facility. the track is located next to the meydan racecourse, home to thoroughbred racing and the dubai world cup (the world’s richest horserace), as well as a tennis academy, imax cinema and a world class ﬁve star hotel making it one of dubai’s most cherished sporting and leisure destinations.meydan city is the brain- child of his highness sheikh mohammed bin rashid al maktoum, uae vice president, prime minister and ruler of dubai. it is the culmina- tion of his vision to create not just the ultimate venue for horse-racing, but also an integrated city that is sustainable, environmentally respon- sible and also one that positions dubai at the center of the competitive global business stage. about the meydan hotel located only 12 minutes drive from the dubai mall and burj khalifa and 15 minutes drive from dubai international airport, the 5-star luxury ‘the meydan hotel’ is the perfect travel destination for families and couples and right destination for groups, incentives, corporate guests and meeting delegates. overlooking the majestic meydan racecourse, this award-winning hotel offers spacious 284 rooms and suites from 62 m² to 352 m² with contemporary decor and arabic touches. the hotel presents over 60,000 square meters of ﬂexible meetings and events spaces ideally suited for conferences, meetings, product launches and exhibitions. a dedicated business centre at the hotel offers secretarial services and facilities. a choice of seven restaurants and lounges await the guests including ‘prime’ ﬁne-dining steakhouse, ‘shiba’ chinese and japanese restaurant, international all-dining “farriers’, all-day relaxing ‘millennium lounge’, ‘qube sports bar’, ‘shiba bar’ and ‘equus pool bar’. ‘the meydan hotel’ offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor recreational and sports facilities including “pay &play” fully ﬂoodlit nine-hole golf course, exclusive behind-the-scene stable tours, outdoor rooftop temperature-controlled pool and a tennis academy. ‘the meydan hotel’ is a member of the global hotel alliance and its dis- covery loyalty program. for more information, please visit www.themeydanhotel.com about outbound marketing, india outbound marketing setup in 2002, provides outsourced sales & marketing solutions to hotel compa- nies and tourism destinations through full time representation and projects undertaken. our current clients include international hotel chains such as sunlux by sun international’s the sun lux collection, accor hotels, rotana hotels, onyx hospitality group, grand resort bad ragaz, meliá hotels interna- tional, the meydan hotels, bab al shams desert resortand corinthia hotels outbound marketing was appointed as the afﬁliate ofﬁce of connectworldwide in 2003. i s r a e l gaash golf club gives a boost golf is a reasonably new sport in israel. historically there has only been one golf club in israel – the caesarea golf club, and in recent years a new club has joined the israeli golﬁng scene – the “gaash golf club”. both caesarea and gaash (which are very close by) are very well accommodated and enjoy a population of a high socio-economical background. caesarea golf course the caesarea golf course, the only 18-holes golf course in israel is nestled along the medi- terranean sea was established in the 1961 by the rothschild family and features ruins of an ancient roman aqueduct on its grounds. the club offers international and israeli golfers a wide range of activities: a meticu- lously groomed golf course, a diverse course plan, spacious training ranges, a staff of skilled instructors, a golf academy and school for children, a pro shop for golf and sporting gear and a gourmet restaurant. golf introduction days can be arranged for groups and organizations. in 2010, the caesarea golf course joined the prestigious list of the rolex world’s top 1000 golf courses. the club now spans 6750 sq/m and in fact includes two main golf courses: a professional 18-hole course, the only one in israel that meets international standards, and another 9-hole course used mainly for practice and for learning the game. pete dye, one of the most inﬂuential and creative golf course designers in golf history redesigned the course. since 1961, the club hosts the maccabiah games once every four years. the 20th maccabiah is expected to be held at the caesarea golf club in july 2017. a long and respected list of well-known personalities often visited the club, among them ﬁlm stars sean connery and kirk douglas, the singer frank sinatra, and the actor and entertainer danny kaye who was a regular guest at the club whenever he visited israel. famous israeli ﬁgures included president of israel chaim herzog and his wife aura who were active club members. over the years dozens of foreign ambassadors sta- tioned in israel frequented the club, enjoying a place that reminded them of home. location: entrance to caesarea, west to no 4 highway (from tel-aviv to haifa, 40 minutes from tel-aviv, 20 mins from haifa. the gaash golf club gaash golf course, which was established in 1999 is a 9 hole course of 2700 meters in length. the par 70 gaash golf club is located between the gaash nature reserve and the sharon national park, just 20 minutes away from tel aviv. it was originally designed by elias gitlin and redesigned peter matkowitch in 2001. it has 9 greens with 18 different tees. the course rating is 68.7 and slope rating of caesarea golf course 115. besides a practice range, golf academy and the pro shop, it features an excellent restaurant. location: next to “hof hasharon” natural reservoir, gaash – approx. 30 minutes from tel-aviv and haifa. hotel recommendation: neot-golf resort, holiday apartment’s located close-by boasts of free sauna, swimming pool, ﬁtness room, squash tennis and mini-golf. caesarea golf & country club p. o. box 4858, caesarea 30889, israel. phone(s): +972-4-6109600. fax: +972-4-6361173. website: caesarea.org.il gaash golf club kibbutz gaash, 60951, israel. phone(s): 972-9-951511. fax: 972-9-9511550. website: gaashgolfclub.co.il
36 36 g o g olf i ng in d o n e sia indonesia a golfer’s haven golf: no other game combines the wonder of nature with the discipline of sport in such carefully planned ways. a great golf course both frees and challenges a golfer’s mind. think golf holiday and most people would dream of scotland or ireland. but indonesia harbors one of the best-kept secrets in the world of travel: it is a golfer’s paradise. indonesian golf courses – a paradise for all players: beginner, amateur or professional. these top of the line courses designed by professionals in picturesque locales make for the perfect setting for a golfer’s dream vacation. the archipelago is sprinkled with golf courses, though they’re concentrated more on the islands of java near jakarta, bandung, yogya- karta and surabaya, batam, bintan and bali. these championship courses, including a few that are par-72, are designed by the who’s who of the golﬁng world: jack nicklaus, jack nick- laus ii, thomson, woveridge & perret, rodney wright & robin nelson, robert trent jones jr., greg norman, graham marsh, gary player, walter raleigh stewart and desmond muirhead. golf in jakarta can be traced back to 1872. british businessmen formed the batavia gc, subsequently renamed the jakarta golf club when it was reconstituted sixty years later. there are around 35 golf courses in and around jakarta with all the top tracks located within an hour’s drive from the city centre. add to your bucket list of golf courses in and around jakarta: senayan national golf club jagorawi golf & country club emeralda golf club royale jakarta golf club royale jakarta golf club, one of ﬁve great new golf courses in asia, is designed by bob moore jr. & jmp group. its green paradise concept of expansive meadows decorated with sea isle supreme paspalum (the ﬁrst of its kind in asia)over 27 holes, combined with beautiful purple carpets of exotic plants and the calming beauty of the lake waters fulﬁl both the challenging golf and visual seren- ity, resulting in a new and exclusive golﬁng experience. for a consistent feel, the sea isle supreme paspalum is transplanted whole to generate a consistent speed in accordance with the international standard. this beauti- ful and challenging golf course located 15 minutes from the heart of jakarta is acces- sible by the city toll road, 700 meters from pondok gede toll exit. it’s an exclusive club for the privileged, who appreciate life’s ﬁnest splendour and style. contact details: www.royalejakarta.com/ jagorawi golf & country club as a golf and country club, jagorawi golf & country club (jgcc) is by far indonesia’s most reputed. it’s the only golf club in the country that offers 45 holes of championship golf divided over the old course (18 holes), the new course (18 holes) and the z-nine (9 holes). the old course is the jewel in the crown of indonesian golf and can compete with reputed golf courses of the world. the country club offers its non-golﬁng members activities ranging from trekking, jogging or a relaxing swim at its spacious pool, spa, sauna, jacuzzi and massage. the z-nine was created by jagorawi’s owner and founder, zakir, in close coordi- nation with an american course designer par-excellence max wexler. this is prob- ably the most challenging 9-hole course in indonesia. nine terriﬁc holes snake through the cikeas river valley, where the original landscape has been retained to create this lit- tle devil. low handicappers love the z-nine, while higher handicappers play this course to up their game to a higher level. the cikeas river needs to be negotiated eight times, indi- cating the presence of ample water hazards that may or may not come into play. the jagorawi new course is long and difﬁ- cult, though a choice of 4 tee boxes makes it an enjoyable experience for players of all lev- els. twice the venue of the indonesian open, the new course is open and wide encourag- ing long hitters to grip and rip. the front nine sets the pace for the back nine. holes #11, 12 and 13 are score killers where accuracy trumps distance. the same designer duo, thomson and wolveridge created an equally interesting yet very different layout from the old course. contact details: http://www.jagorawi.com/home.phtml pondok indah golf course established on august 17, 1976, the pondok indah 18 hole golf course is unique and symbolises a partnership between man and nature. each game affords golfers opportuni- ties to not only measure their skills against the course, but also enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings of lush greenery and tall trees, in the fresh scented air carrying the songs of birds. the architect designed the course keeping in mind the requirement to host major championships (event world cup), yet offering pleasure while testing play- ers: experienced and beginners. located south of jakarta, this course is about 45 minutes from jakarta international airport, soekarno-hatta, and 10 km from the business district. the ﬁrst hole has a wide fairway to enable golfers to reach the green on the second shot. the green, located next to a pond, forces the golfers to approach carefully for a straight it. the last and most challenging hole on the course provides an out of bound (ob) with a long hard sandy surface to the left and a deep fairway bunker to the right. in addition, there are two huge water hazards on the sides of the fairway. you need to carefully plan the second shot to land on the green located at a higher-level and guarded by deep bunkers on either side. contact details: www.golfpondokindah.com/ emeralda golf club emeralda golf club gives its member the ﬁnest golf and family-oriented golf club in in- donesia. it combines a residential ambience with a 27 championship holes golf course. a unique golf course, it’s south course 9 holes are designed by jack nicklaus and north course 18 holes by arnold palmer, both golf legends. a spectacularly spacious club house has been designed by the interna- tionally acclaimed klages, carter and vail. they incorporated the traditional celebrated bandung style, gedung sate. contact details: http://www.emeralda-golfclub.com/index.php senayan national golf club the senayan national golf club, located in the heart of scbd is a brand-new 18-hole course. it incorporates the old corridor, alter- ing the play direction for better playability and safety. a par 69 course, it offers a chal- lenging yet enjoyable golﬁng experience. contact details: http://www.senayannational.com/ airlines: garuda indonesia, thai airways, singapore airlines, malaysia airlines, malindo air, air asia climate: indonesia is blessed with two seasons, namely summer and rainy. summer season is from april to september and rainy season starts from october to march. sunshine is abundant except in rainy season when the sky tends to be cloudy. it is advisable to visit indonesia during the summer season. accomodation: fairmont jakarta www.fairmont.com/jakarta century park hotel www.atletcentury.com/ the bellevue suites jakarta: thebellevuesuites.com swiss-belhotel jakarta www.swiss-belhotel.com/en-gb/swiss- belhotel-mangga-besar-jakarta best western premier the hive www.bwpremierthehive.com/ harper m.t. haryono https://www.harperhotels.com/en/location/ overview/54/harper-m-t--haryono---jakarta1.
g o g olf i ng 37 om a n oman exhibits a sport with a view muscat has become the new golf destination in middle east and hosts three 18-hole grass golf courses muscat hills golf & country club, al mouj golf and ghala valley golf club. the breathtaking views of the sea of oman and the hajar mountains are visible from everywhere on these golf courses. for those wanting to learn the game, each course also has an academy staffed by qualiﬁed golf instructors who will be happy to guide you through the early stages. the climate makes golﬁng most popular in oman between the months of september and may. muscat hills golf & country club opened in the end of 2009, muscat hills golf course was the ﬁrst 18-hole pga certiﬁed, 72-par, 6383 meter green golf course built over 45 hectors of land along with a high quality residential development project on the outskirts of muscat. in the centre of the project, the intercontinental hotels is setting up a seven-star property that will complete the integrated township. muscat hills golf course has been designed by the internationally acclaimed golf course designer, paul thomas, of david thomas associates. the course is landscaped in and around the natural wadi terrain offering generous fairways and challenging shots over the wadi escarpments. it is an excellent place to meet a broad cross section of the community, both in business and social circles. the golf club offers a variety of membership opportunities designed to cater for all needs. visitors are most welcomed all year round. located between the mountains and the sea, the club is just 5 minutes drive from the muscat international airport and within easy reach of muscat’s 4- and 5-star hotels. muscat hills golf academy is one of the top learning facilities in oman. the 400-meter, fully ﬂoodlit driving range with 9 shaded bays and a practice putting green give golfers the opportunity to practice their game till late evening. the new state-of-the-art golf academy, with its pga qualiﬁed professionals, offers a wide range of tuition services and the latest cutting edge technologies of the ecoaching – swing video analysis, ﬂightscope, samputtlab to help improve all areas of golfers’ game. the club’s golf carts all have gps, giving you detailed information of exact yardages to hazards and to the ﬂag. 100 up-lit palm trees, planted alongside the range, add a unique touch to the facility. al mouj golf the al mouj golf course designed by international golﬁng legend greg norman is 18 hole, 72 par, 7,342 yards in length, daunting par 3 island green and a challenging par 5 that stretches over 600 yards. al mouj, muscat is oman’s premier project, situated along the shoreline of 6km of natural beach, combines beautiful properties- al mouj marina, greg norman signature golf course, four premier hotels including kempinski and fairmont 5-star resorts and new retail, leisure and dining opportunities all situated at a seafront address. this is the ﬁrst integrated resort and residential development to be undertaken in the greater muscat region. al mouj golf is also home to a golf academy with a state of the art swing studio, driving range and private golf lesson area. dining facilities are available and offer true omani hospitality welcoming all guests, irrespective of golﬁng prowess. al mouj hosts the ﬁrst golf academy in muscat that has been designed to offer unrivalled levels of world class golf tuition for all ages and all backgrounds. with a dedicated 9 hole par 3 ﬂoodlit course, state of the art swing studio and an extensive driving range offering dedicated private tuition bays, the academy at al mouj caters to both complete beginners as well as more experienced players. ghala golf club established in 1971, ghala golf club situated in the heart of muscat is the oldest and most popular golf club in oman. the club started out as a modest 9-hole sand course, and has now grown to 18-hole, fully-grassed course with 250+ members. the iconic course, designed by renowned british golfer, bill logmuir, is set snugly into seychelles seychelles entices golfers with its special menu and desirable wines lush oasis of tropical reﬁnement, there is no better place to escape the everyday life than the completely renovated constance lemuria. el- egantly nestled in its surroundings, the white beaches of the hotel coexist with lush ﬂora and fauna, including a turtle sanctuary where baby turtles can roam safely to the ocean. composed of 96 spacious suites, 8 beachside villas and one majestic presi- dential villa perched on granitic boulders, lemuria is the perfect balance between indulgence and simplicity. you can expect great standards of luxury in respect of the preserved natural beauty of the environ- ment. with four restaurants serving from reﬁned cuisine to modern and gastronomic dishes, anyone can ﬁnd something to their liking. dinner on the beautiful deck hid- den behind the nest restaurant, perfectly located on the rock peninsula between the two anse kerlan beaches, will make you live an unforgettable breath-taking moment. the most desirable wine list of the region is found at diva, where you will be able to sip away the night while you will relish on some of the most exquisite mediterranean ﬂavours. located by the golf club, it offers special menu for golfers and is the perfect place to have a drink after playing on the lemuria championship golf course. the ﬁrst and unique 18-hole luxury cham- pionship golf course of the seychelles, the lemuria championship golf course is beauti- fully scenic, winding along the coastline of praslin. mango, coconut and palm trees welcome you on the immaculate terraced green, but the course gets rockier the more you conquer its grounds. from the 13th hole, perched on densely forested slopes, do not let the view of the spectacular cove divert you from your path. indescribable, hole 15 is a secret well-kept between those who a wadi with the dramatic al hajar mountains framing the backdrop. the clubhouse at ghala golf club, offers panoramic views of the 9th, 15th and 18th holes. the bright and relaxing clubhouse is a members-only area, with a comfortable outdoor terrace to enjoy refreshments. the club is known for offering free membership to all junior players- under 18 years. the ogc junior program that runs throughout the year for a period of 6 weeks is managed by pga professional milo in partnership with oman golf committee; aims to introduce children to the game of golf in a fun and different way. it has also hosted the oman nationals championship and mena tour for many years. muscat hills golf & country club e-mail: [email protected] t: +968 245 1 4080/2 www.muscathillsgolf.com al mouj golf tel: +968 22 00 59 90 e-mail: [email protected] http://www.almoujgolf.com/ ghala golf club +968 92194957/ +968 24504919 http://www.ghalagolf.com where to stay: the chedi, grand hyatt, sheraton hotel, grand millennium (all are easily accessible from any of these golf courses) spokesperson: lubaina sheerazi, india representative, ministry of tourism, oman experienced it and can testify of its beauty. you will have to try it by yourself to be part of this privilege club. afterwards, to relax and energize, you can make your way to the u spa by con- stance set among swaying palm trees. you can decide between the gorgeous aromatic natural products line inspired by plants from the indian ocean or chose from the val- mont collection, a lush range of treatments designed by the swiss cellular cosmetic experts. a brice nicham studio with a profes- sional team of podiatrist is also on place to treat and take care of your feet and hands which is something to indulge in after playing many golf rounds. this is not an imaginary world; this is a raw and preserved hideaway. waiting for you. for reservation: constance lémuria seychelles anse kerlan, praslin, seychelles - indian ocean. main number: (248) 4281 281. administration fax: (248) 4281 001 www.lemuriaresort.com central reservation ofﬁce belle mare, poste de flacq, mauritius - indian ocean. main number: (230) 402 27 77 / 402 27 72. fax: (230) 402 26 16 [email protected]
38 38 g o g olf i ng m au ri t iu s mauritius - a five star golf retreat “i am not a pebble on the beach - a grain of sand on the seashore or just one of millions of creations - past, present and future. no, i’m all this and more: the sound of rain; the sound of wind in a primeval wood; and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. i’m mauritius, i’m unique, i’m the fruit of the perfection of god’s creative powers.” “golf is a search for such perfection, for balance. it’s about meditation and concentration. it is deceptively simple and endlessly com- plicated; it satisﬁes the soul and frustrates the intellect. it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” situated in the warm azure water of the indian ocean, this beautiful tropical island of mauritius is famous for its vast stretches of pristine white-sanded beaches, warm temperatures and pleasant weather all year round which provide excellent conditions for golf and for a great golf holiday. today golf is one of the top sports in mauritius and one of the main attractions for visitors to the island. mauritius is the third country in the world where golf was played after the united kingdom and india. the british royal navy members opened the ﬁrst golf club (the gymkhana golf club) in 1902. the mauritius gymkhana golf club is the oldest golf club in the southern hemisphere and the fourth oldest golf course in the world. since early days, mauritius is the ultimate golf destination for any golfer. there is an astonishingly high number of golf courses dotted all over the island, ranging from basic 9 holes courses to world class champion- ship golf courses with 18 holes designed by the world leading golfers such as ernie els, bernard langer and david leadbetter. the golf courses in mauritius are designed in such a way to test the efﬁciency and ac- curacy of golfers. from bushes to bunkers and from water hazards to nails concealed by verdure foliage, the golf courses in mauritius offer exciting experiences in beautiful natural settings. many of these courses offer spectacu- lar sea views and open coastal panoramas. heritage golf club - golf course (belombre) the heritage golf club is an excellent 18- hole golf course, designed by south african golf architect, peter matkovich and covers an area of 100 hectares. it is home to the afrasia cup, which will be held in november 2017. attached to the heritage le telfair golf & wellness resort, this magniﬁcent 18 hole heritage golf club is situated in the heart of unspoiled south mauritius. the course has a volcanic mountain backdrop and some breathtaking views out to sea. the landscape is interspersed with lakes, streams and tropi- cal trees; the championship course (par 72) is both technically challenging and varied. it has the right balance and variation in length of holes, width of fairways, green sizes and ultimately the risk and reward element that is crucial on any championship layout. four seasons golf club designed by ernie els, it is a 7,372-yard, 18- hole, par-72 championship course with large fairways and ﬁve sets of tees. six stunning oceanfront holes culminate in a ﬁnal shot that is among the most spectacular in the world. it is also home to the afrasia cup. built to usga standards, carefully woven into the tropical sanctuary, the course is set against lush mountains and fringed by the vast crystal-clear lagoon in east mauritius. for sheer beauty, few courses in the world can match up to it. it has a magniﬁcent setting and features some tough deep bunkers, numerous natural water hazards and 6 ocean-side holes and fortunately 5 sets of tees. paradis golf club the most exciting golf experience: unforget- table is the only word to describe a round of golf on this course. set in south mauritius against the backdrop of majestic mountains, the fairways and greens curl along the shore- line of a spectacular bay. the claim that this is one of the most beautiful golf courses in mauritius is probably a valid one. the 18-hole par 72 golf course stretches along 5,924 metres between the iconic morne mountain and the crystal-clear lagoon of the morne peninsula. much of the creative design of the bunkers and fairways is attributable to international golf legend tony johnstone who spent several years playing the course through its many evolutionary stages. tamarina golf club situated on a beautiful estate of 206 hectares on west mauritius, this 18-hole championship course has exceptional views between moun- tain and sea. it spans 6,886 meters (7,436 yards) and par 72 course designed by wright golf design, owned by rodney wright. this 18-hole championship course undu- lates over rugged savannah land framed with mature trees and crossed by the rempart river. the holes have been specially designed to give spectacular views of the impressive mount rempart and the towering mountain range. some holes also offer great views over the crisp crystal clear blue lagoon of the tamarin bay. the links golf course (belle mare) designed by rodney wright and peter allis, par 72 with 5942m, this 18 hole championship course is located in east mauritius along tur- quoise waters. the natural setting of the course, over rolling links style terrain, is complemented by excellent fairways and ﬁrm greens. a special feature is the volcanic rock, piled high to form pyramid like structures that dot the course. plenty of water challenges, afternoon sea- breezes blowing over wide open spaces and rolling undulating terrain make for the ultimate golf experience. the clubhouse sits above the course and faces the mountains and setting sun with panoramic views to the ocean. legend golf course designed by south african champion, hugh baiocchi and spread over 6,018 meters (6,582 yards) in east mauritius, each of its 18 holes par 72 have distinctive characteristics. superb fairways are laid in the heart of an indigenous forest, culminating on velvet greens, made to us pga regulations. home to the “johnnie walker classic” and the mauritius open, it also hosts the euro- pean senior tour. ile aux cerfs golf club designed by bernhard langer, this 18 hole championship course with 4 different sets of tees and par 72 is spread over 6,452 meters (7,056 yards) in east mauritius. fringed by white sands and surrounded by the blue indian ocean, it features breathtaking views from all 18 holes. it was recently named 10th best golf course in the world by both golf world maga- zine (uk) and middle east golf magazine, as well as 19th by golf journal (germany). avalon golf course designed by peter matkovich, this 18 hole par 72 championship course spans 6200m in the most idyllic surroundings in the heart of a natural reserve, within the most undiscov- ered and authentic south mauritius. on the central plateau, it offers a vista of the south- ern coastline of mauritius. an inland golf course, it is accessible to all. the fairways are large, fun and easy to play. gymkhana golf course the 18-hole golf course designed by the british royal navy offers a good mix of hazards and low rates. located in central mauritius, the golf course is a 18-hole, par 68 and 4,870 meters long. being an ancient colony of the british empire, it is the ﬁrst golf club opened in mauritius and may not feature all the complexities of modern golf courses, but it is perfectly maintained. for more information: om tourism chandrani chakraborty manager - pr & marketing b 31/a, first floor, kalkaji, new delhi 110 019 tel: + 91 11 49505000 mobile: + 91 9310585052 e-mail: [email protected] www.omtourism.com
g o g olf i ng 39 39 m a l aysia desaru coast has all the ingredients to become a world-class destination the els club desaru coast – ocean course the ocean course, which adjoins the shore- line, as its name would suggest, is one of the headline acts. the three nine hole loops; the lakes, the coast and the ridge, make up the distinct course layout and with the com- mitment of global leaders in management, troon golf, the experience is second to none. on arrival, the presence of a mighty clubhouse ﬁlls the skyline. with its open plan design, the 45,000 sq foot clubhouse sits imperiously overlooking the golf course and academy, offering guests plenty of comforta- ble corners to relax, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the service from the two casual dining restaurants. as you would expect, each hole on the ocean course bears the els watermark of strategy, beauty and elegance. the ﬂow of the golf courses instantly grabs you and is something that only a true master of their art can create. the second hole of the coast nine hole loop is certainly one of the most awe-inspir- ing. a downhill, arching dog-leg par5 heads straight for the blue waters of the ocean. flanked by a continuous bunker on the left, fortune will favour the brave. you can expect the prevailing wind to be into your face for your second, fresh off the ocean, meaning only the most precise shot has any chance to reach. to be able to say you hit the green in two at the second hole of the coast loop will certainly be one of the more cherished or bragged about achievements. the els performance golf academy as another major feature. the scale of this state-of-the-art practice facility is unmatched in the region. ernie has a passion for growing the game and giving golfers of all standards the best environment to improve and enjoy the sport. “everything about this project and the destination has given us the belief that the els club desaru coast has the opportunity of becoming one of the leading golf destina- tions of the world,” commented four-time major champion, ernie els. the else club desaru coast – valley course the valley course is the product of a world’s ﬁrst collaboration between ernie els and his close friend and fellow major champion and world golf hall of famer, vijay singh. the course is nothing short of epic. the immediate impact of the undulating land- scape and smattering of uniquely placed white sandy bunkers is unforgettable. the condition and quality is a cut above. also managed by troon golf, the world’s leading golf management group, every detail is meticulously catered to. precision is most certainly at a premium on the course. there are some high tariff shots, but the setting and brilliance of the design leaves you thirsty for more. the range of teeing options are aptly placed, giving all standards of golfer fair options to get the most out of their game. it will be interesting to discover if the 18th hole is to set the scene for prominent victories by the world’s best players in future years. it is as dramatic a ﬁnishing hole as you could wish to ﬁnd, and one that would not look out of place as the climactic setting for the world’s most prestigious professional events in the years to come. a downhill tee shot gives you the opportunity to gain some distance to attack. the second shot is uphill, to another beautifully bunkered green complex. the second golf instalment at desaru coast doesn’t disappoint and will surely become one of asia paciﬁc’s top courses. with the destina- tion masterplan including major luxury hotel chains and an already frequent ﬂight schedule, desaru coast is going to be a feature with many golfers from all over the world. the els club teluk datai – rainforest course set amongst some of the most unspoilt rainforest and natural beaches, the els club teluk datai has established itself as a new icon on the golf scene. another masterpiece by four-time major champion, the rainforest course has unique characteristics in abun- dance. whether it is the 100 ft high trees, the constant buzz of wildlife or the tranquillity of the coastline vistas, the golf course is mesmerising. the island of langkawi, located north west of kuala lumpur and epitomises paradise. the distinguishing factors of the rainforest course are its holes that run adjacent to the water’s edge and those that wander through a million year old rainforest. the rainforest course is accompanied by two luxury resorts; the datai and the anda- man which provide an ideal option for guests looking for a quick weekend retreat or those looking to switch off completely. the golf course quickly rose to critical acclaim scooping ‘the world’s best new golf course’ award and ranking #83 in ‘golf digest’s top 100 greatest golf courses in the world’. one of the many redeeming features is the attentive service the facility offers its guests. when you add the fact the course is one of the ﬁnest conditioned in the region, you can certainly imagine the els club teluk datai becomes top of the bucket list golf escapes. top 5 golfing holidays in malaysia malaysia, two-time winner of world golf awards for asia’s best gold destination, has become a favourite destination among golfers lately. with the appealing combina- tion of great weather, delicious food, exotic culture, natural attractions, great shopping and modern fairways, it’s easy to see why more golfers are not just lugging their golf bags onto airplanes, but their families as well, for the trip. but with almost 160 top golf courses in the country to choose from for international play – many of which are award-winning – how does one choose? here’s our top ﬁve picks of great golﬁng holidays for everyone in the family. langkawi a holiday in langkawi island conjures im- ages of a tropical sun, white, sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees and the beautiful blue andaman sea stretched out as far as the eye can see. if beach-side lazing is not your thing, glide down the island’s mangrove rivers to see the gorgeous limestone landscapes of this unesco geopark or trek deep into its mountainous jungles to experience nature at its best. (naturallylangkawi.my) best golﬁng: the award-winning els club teluk datai features an amazing 18-hole challenge designed by south african legend ernie els, nestled between the andaman sea and the lush mountains of langkawi island. george town, penang this unesco heritage city is brimming with so much life and activity, no visitor will have time to get bored. from a walking tour of its street art to admiring the architectural beauty of its colonial past to sampling local food along with the locals, there’s simply so much to do. families will especially love its variety of historic and contemporary museums, the ride up to the top of penang hill, a city ride on the three-wheeled trishaw and a leisurely stroll in its many gardens. (mypenang.gov.my) best golﬁng: stay on the island for a round of golf at penang golf club where you will tee off from as high as a hundred metres above the greens and fairways, or cross the iconic penang bridge to the mainland’s bukit jawi golf resort to experience a thrilling game by the lake. kuala lumpur voted as one of the world’s best shopping destinations and magniﬁcent cities to visit, kuala lumpur is a must-stop on any itinerary to malaysia. it’s a shopping paradise alright with designer goods going for less due to the currency exchange rate. the best it gadgets, shoes, fashion and knick knacks are also here to bargain over at the many shopping malls, pop-up bazaars and night markets. (visitkl.gov.my) tip: purchase a hop on hop off pass for the entire family to explore over 50 major sights and attractions in the city so you don’t miss iconic stops such as the petronas twin tow- ers, the lake gardens, independence square and bintang walk. (myhoponhopoff.com) best golﬁng: tournament players club (former- ly known as kl golf & country club), designed by australian architect ted parslow, is the site of numerous high-proﬁle tournaments, serving up a challenge to golfers with its length, water hazards and sculptured bunkering. kota kinabalu, sabah adventure awaits in this borneo paradise and visitors can take their pick from gentle explorations of the sea world – snorkeling and guided scuba walks at the easily acces- sible island marine park – to an exhilarating climb up mount kinabalu either by trekking through its jungle to the peak or clinging on to its granite surface on the via ferrata walk. (sabahtourism.com). best golﬁng: play at the jack nicklaus- designed borneo golf resort and you’ll have to battle with the ocean winds and the beauty of this seaside location to focus on your game. alternatively, take your game to the wetlands and tee off at dalit bay golf & country club, bordered by the tambalang and mengkabong rivers. kuching, sarawak the word “kuching” is malaysian for cat, but it is the orangutan that has attracted many to this borneo state, speciﬁcally to the reha- bilitation centres of this beloved great ape. other natural attractions easily accessible from kuching city – bako national park, the wetlands of sibu laut and salak rivers and the bau limestone caves – will keep the fam- ily ﬁrmly occupied. (sarawaktourism.com). best golﬁng: enjoy a round of golf in the shadows of the santubong mountain where arnold palmer has designed a fantastic course around rocky outcrops, ponds, man- grove forests and the south china sea. for more information on malaysia’s golf courses, visit playmalaysiagolf.com or malaysia.travel. for more media releases, media info and media features on malaysia’s tourism industry, kindly visit the media centre of tourism malaysia’s website at http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my/
4040 40 g o g olf i ng you’ll have no trouble ﬁnding a golf course in fiji. there are 14 scattered throughout the islands, with three championship courses on the main island, viti levu, and many smaller courses elsewhere. golf is played widely in fiji, and the country has produced one of the world’s top golfers, vijay singh. the former world number one and hall of fame inductee was born in lautoka. for the ultimate, world-class golﬁng experience, viti levu has three spectacular 18-hole, 72-par championship courses. the natadola bay championship golf course is one of fiji’s best, located on the south west coast of the island and offering spectacu- lar views of the paciﬁc ocean, along with excellent facilities. less than an hour away, close to nadi, is the denarau golf club, a challenging and beautiful course with long, open fairways and several water hazards. if you’re on a budget and looking for a more affordable green fee, the pearl south paciﬁc championship golf course offers a chal- lenging, adventurous course surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. or if you want to mingle with the locals, try fiji golf club in suva – popular with residents, it has long, ﬂat fairways with less vegetation. but if a short game is what you’re after, novotel nadi executive golf course has a challenging, nine-hole course set on a steep slope. an- other nine-hole option is the newly-extended shangri la’s fijian course, the only one in fiji with tifton dwarf grass greens. natadola bay championship golf course natadola bay blends world class golf architecture with dramatic landscapes from rolling pastures through to absolute beach- front. with the sparkling backdrop of coral reefs and the paciﬁc ocean on 15 out of the 18 holes, keeping your concentration will certainly be a challenge! styled in traditional south paciﬁc architec- ture the clubhouse is the ultimate vantage point for breathtaking views across the golf course, coral reefs and rolling surf breaks. no round will be complete without enjoying a meal and a beverage from the open air bar and restaurant. measuring 6,566 metres from the cham- pionship tees, the par 72 championship f iji a golfer’s haven with its scattered courses m ac au golf courses with sweeping views the macau golf & country club, located on the south side of coloane island near the westin hotel, is one of the most beautiful - and challenging championship golf courses in asia, and welcomes all per club regulations. situated on a promontory with sweeping views of the sea in front and hills behind, the club offers a full range of international amenities, such as practice greens, caddy service, pro shop, spa, restaurant, bar and swimming pool. the macau golf & country club (mgcc) bills itself as macau’s premiere course. half- an-hour’s drive from the glitz of cotai, the mgcc is a private, 6,698-yard, par-71 course known for a narrow mountainside front nine and picturesque oceanside back nine. caesars golf macau is an internation- ally standardized 18-hole golf course located next to the karting track at the southern end of cotai district. the only semi-private golf course open to both members and visitors in macao - as well as the asian home of the renowned butch harmon school of golf – this club also offers a full range of international amenities. offering a golf experience like no other, caesars golf macau is one of the most dis- tinctive golf and leisure retreats in asia. it has a full-length practice range. it is macau’s only public golf course which covers about ﬁve percent of macau’s total landmass. located close to the popular cotai and entertainment strip, the oriental golf international macau course was originally opened in 2005 by a division of a taiwanese conglomerate, which operates golf courses in several other parts of china. it was initially known as the oriental macau golf course but changed hands and was run by caesar’s, the golﬁng division of harrah’s entertainment of the united states. standard golf course boasts up to 5 tee posi- tions on each hole, providing an enjoyable challenge to players of all skill levels. natadola bay was ofﬁcially opened for play in june 2009 with the staging of the fi- jian open, won by then rookie professional matt grifﬁn. the course has since hosted the 2010 fiji open, the 2011 nomura cup and the 2012 natadola bay fiji classic. course facilities •golfshop•290mpracticefairwayincludes target,practiceandchippinggreens•golf tuition from pga professional including private and group lessons and on-course tuition •barandrestaurant the denarau golf & racquet club the denarau golf & racquet club opened on the 9th june, 1993 with a par 72, 6538-metre resort golf course designed by mr. eiichi mo- tohashi of pannya planning, japan. created from mangrove swamp with marine shaped bunkers and greens, the layout has water hazards on 15 of it’s 18 holes. the denarau golf & racquet club was built with the use of mr. motohashi’s acquired craftsmanship and skilled techniques. as the south paciﬁc’s premiere golf facility, the denarau golf & racquet club strives as a testimony to his vision and passion for the game. the golf program at denarau golf & racquet club includes international standard golf lessons and daily clinics. the club also provides rental clubs and shoes, pull trolleys and electric carts. golfers have the choice of the practice facility with target greens, chipping green, putting green and bunker practice and now also the mini golf course and bungee trampoline. facility includes •par72,18-holechampionshipgolfcourse •practicefacilityandgreens•residentgolf professional•80electriccarts•privatelessons •adultandjuniorclinics•rentalclubsand shoes•golfbagstorage•golfclubrepair •residenttennisprofessional•privatelessons •adultandjuniorclinics•rentaltennis racquetsandshoes•tennisracquetrestringing •guestlockers,showersandchangingrooms •wellstockedgolfshop•fullservice restaurantandbar•cocktailpartiesand functions harrah’s refurbished and developed the course then sold it a few years ago to a local company called pearl dynasty investment. many golfers and those in the tourism industry still refer to it as caesar’s. from a golﬁng perspective, little has changed on the 18-hole, par 72 links-styled course. the course is dominated by ﬂat terrain and well-manicured grassy fairways. it has some complex water hazards and macau’s lotus bridge is an impressive backdrop. it’s a course that looks mostly ﬂat upon ﬁrst appearance but a closer inspection reveals fairways that are surprisingly undulat- ing. a round of golf here offers a challenging mix of long and short holes. caesars golf macau estrada de seac pai van sn, r/c, cotai, +853 2888 0123. www.caesars.com macau golf & country club 1918, estrada de hac sa, iiha de coloane, +853 2887 1188. www.mgccmacau.com
adve rtorial 41 las vegas north premium outlets “america’s shopping destinations” simon shopping destinations are a select group of more than 100 simon malls, the mills and premium outlets located in and around major u.s tourism destinations. simon shopping destinations offer everything from luxury to outlet offerings with designer, value and classic brands. no matter where you're headed, they are there, covering the largest list of destinations in the u.s. they are cleverly poised to help you take full advantage of your travel experience by including their world-class shopping experience right into your plans. the ultimate in outlet shopping. premium outlets® new york, las vegas, los angeles, orlando…premium outlets are where shoppers want to be with exceptional brands at extraordinary savings of 25% to 65% every day. from burberry, coach, and michael kors to polo ralph lauren, saks fifth avenue off 5th and kate spade new york, each location will surpass every expectation for outlet shopping. knockout brands.knockout prices. the mills® the mills offer the best brands, the best selection, the biggest savings and the most fun- in one place. discover name brand outlets and value retailers at savings of up to 70% off every day along with great dining and family-oriented attractions. find it. love it. simon malls in 14 states simon malls offer the ideal mix of renowned style icons and the hottest retailers- saks fifth avenue, cartier and chanel sit alongside apple, zara and h&m. sophisticated dining options like the oceanaire seafood room and the capital grille complete an unparallel shopping experience. travel invites us to discover something new, special and extraordinary. when your client’s travel itinerary includes incredible shopping, simon shopping destinations are a must see. with more than 100 world- class shopping locations in the most dynamic markets in the united states, our locations offer everything from luxury to outlet offerings with designer, value, and classic brands. traveltrade.simon.com traveltrade.simon.com desert hills premium outlets desert hills premium outlets sawgrass mills and the colonnade outlets sawgrass mills and the colonnade outlets the forum shops at caesars palace the forum shops at caesars palace
42 th e l a st pag e monsoon magic to come alive at tijara fort & palace the tijara fort-palace complex is an unﬁnished marvel of three structures, built in the rajput-afghan style with early colonial inﬂuences: the mardana for the royal men, the rani mahal for the maharanis and a pleasure palace on the edge of a plateau, overlooking a water body called the hawa mahal, palace of winds. in january of 2016, tijara opened its doors to the world with its recently-terraced hanging gardens and some of its tall ramparts raised. the rani mahal consists of 20 suites and rooms named after india's leading lady painters who have honoured them with their work. the mardana mahal houses 40 rooms that have been styled by leading male designers, artists, and aesthetes. some rooms also have original art works which were specially created for tijara. at tijara, the focus is to move towards much more relaxed and seamless welcome experiences, enhancing the arrival aspect of a guest’s experience. this is something that will continue to gain momentum. the chefs shall be creating culinary experiences that bring out the local ﬂavors of the region throughout the year. the kaanch mahal or palace of glass is a central structure where guests arrive from all directions for their meals. one of the sunken wonders of the tijara property is pataal kund – a rather large pool, where guests can swim in the comfort of summer shade. this sunken pool is 100 ft x 50 ft ! a cool, subterranean spa will de-stress the urban souls. there is also an underground auditorium below the fountain garden. with the onset of winter i.e from october to march, the property shall be showcasing indian art and culture through vibrant performances of indian classical dance, musical performances, workshops, and theatre by aspiring and renowned artists. no amounts of photographs are able to describe the breathtaking 360 degree views of tijara fort-palace which change with the light and the seasons. the high and windy hawa mahal, with the most splendid views, will offer delicacies while you ask the magic lantern to grant your wishes! (summer package to be extended till 30th september 2017)
43 the show with a difference composite profile + programme who will attend the event? 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.
44 s t a y a t o n e & o n l y r o y a l m i r a g e , d u b a i and enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch or dinner and access to the renowned aquavenure waterpark at atlantis the palm, dubai valid for travel from now until 30 september 2017 to make reservations, please call +91 9892651227 or contact your preferred local partner oneandonlyroyalmirage.com the offer is valid for new bookings only and not applicable for group bookings. minimum length of stay as per travel dates is applicable. child policy, standard cancellation and ‘no show’ policies apply. all other terms and conditions apply. offer is subject to availability and confirmation from one&only royal mirage at the time of reservation.