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Marriott Hotels New structure in place after starwood acquisition Volume 2. Issue 8. December 2016. `50 Total pages 32

No.U(NDGPO)-01/2016-2017 Date of Publication: 19/12/2016 RNI No. DELENG/2015/62794 Posting Dt. 12-17/12/2016 Postal Reg. No. DL(ND)-11/6180/2015-16-17

bringing together stakeholders of the bigger picture

GST could set the aviation sector back by `15,000 cr. in taxes, airlines seek relief New team at WTTC India bats for more conducive and enabling environment

GST at 18%, as visualised presently, could put severe strain on the Indian aviation industry, estimated at ` 15,000 crores annually. This development comes at a time when international fuel prices are heading north. Senior leadership of the industry met Finance Ministry officials recently to seek consideration, beside recommending that aviation fuel be brought under the new tax regime.

A

ir India Chief Ashwani Lohani is the Chairman of WTTCII for the year 2017. Veteran hotelier Sunder G. Advani, is the new Vice Chairman. On this occasion, Ashwani Lohani noted “Over the years, WTTCII has been championing convergence between Government of India and States to facilitate tourism in India and we will continue to do so. With the GST in place by next year, the States will have the major onus of implementing smart policies for facilitating tourism on the ground. We will continue to work with the States, with the strength of our Members, to improve access, address infrastructural gaps and policy bottlenecks for tourism to flourish... The sub sectors of aviation, hospitality, transportation, railway compliments Ashwani Lohani each other. In a country like India, all the sub sectors of tourism need to be integrated and treated uniformly by the Government in its various policy initiatives to give it a competitive edge visà-vis other countries.” Sunder Advani has said that for tourism to take gallant strides, the need of the hour was to work Sunder Advani with the government to create visibility through aggressive and targeted marketing. “We welcome the ground breaking move by Government of India introducing E-visa policy for 158 countries at 16 Airports and 5 Cruise Ports. While there has been some growth in foreign tourist arrivals and revenues earned but, as an industry, we desire and can achieve exponential growth in numbers and revenues... While we commend the Government to standardize GST........at 18%. We hope that the individual States will not also levy taxes which is already losing out to our competitors which have very low tax rates,” he added.

MakeMyTrip merger is a game changer, says Deep Kalra inside I

n an exclusive interview with TourismFirst, MakeMyTrip founder and Mentor, Deep Kalra shares his confidence in what the newly emerged entity will bring to the market. Says Kalra, “The combined entity will truly be a one stop shop for all travel needs. It brings together some of the strongest consumer brands under one umbrella, namely MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, redBus, Rightstay and Ryde – each offering the widest range of travel solutions, some catering to niche areas while some offering end to end services. The consolidation will also result in operational efficiencies and we will see the value that the company derives out of these efficiencies being passed on to the end consumer.”

04

Cross currents

MoT moots subsidised GST rate for MICE tourism, promises more intensive marketing outreach

10

Hotels + Resorts

Marriott Hotels: Close to market, localising talent, creating specialised resources

14 Aviation IndiGo goes global, ties up with Travelport to boost its distribution channel

Further liberalised e-visa regime set to push tourism Updating its e-visa programme, a quick look at some of the recent innovations from the government: ◗ e-visa can now be applied 120 days in advance. ◗ e-visa validity increased from 30 days to 60 days. ◗ e- visa cannot be extended any further except on medical grounds. Validity can be extend upto 6 month (case specific) ◗ Double entry is permissible for e-tourist and e-business visa, however e-medical visa is entitled for triple entry. ◗ e-tourist visa has been extended to five other countries

among which Italy, Slovak Republic, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are also included. ◗ 2 attendants are allowed on e-medical visa from all countries, except Pakistan. ◗ Separate guidelines have been laid down for applying for Film tourism visas. ◗ Japan has both e-visa as well as visa on arrival facility, which has been extended to 60 days each. ◗ Visa available from 5 sea ports – Goa, Mangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Cochin.

Announcing India’s most innovative tourism event, the first ever India Tourism Summit. 24th March, 2017. New Delhi presenting the big picture

india tourism summit 2017 24th march

new delhi

stand-alone edition

In the tradition of events such as HT Leadership Summit and India Today Conclave, and numerous others in diverse economic activities dominating the mindscape. Tourism’s time has come, with our announcement of an innovative extension of BITB Conclaves with a first ever TourismFirst India Summit, bringing travel and tourism into the mainstream consciousness. India’s first mover in tourism events, Cross Section Media, innovating in tourism since 1975, relaunched in this space last October with BITB, Bharat International Tourism Bazaar, a progressive B2B forwardlooking trade show. This event coincided with six Power Conclaves anchored by leading industry associations/corporate captains. Inspired by their success, we introduce a stand-alone Power Event that is inclusive and comprehensive in bringing India’s tourism together. For enquiries: Saurabh Shukla: 9899521421 


this issue : Dece mbe r, 201 6

3

Much can be achieved through sharing of experiences and best practices among Indian states   It has been well noted and said in recent times that it is the states that have control over the tourism processes, because, essentially, tourism is a state subject. Now, how do the states empower themselves to do the best they can to take tourism forward?   The first development to have happened in the past decade, at least, is the growing realisation that tourism needs more focus.  ​In many ways, having to spell the importance of​tourism is no longer necessary. It is already in the forefront of the state’s endeavour. Adequate budgetary allocations have also been witnessed in the last decade, to reasonably impressive levels. There is adequate funding available at the state level. We can always ask for more, and in many states the Chief Ministers are reasonably tourism savvy, whether it is Jammu& Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, or Kerala. For a state tourism department to ask for more budgets, state governments are unlikely to hold​back. So, funding is not ​an issue. ​ ut there are other areas that need attention and urgently. ​ B 1. Lack of consistency in pursuing​tourism. Essentially, tourism in states is being handled at a state tourism secretary, or the tourism managing director, or the tourism corporation level. Many of the states’ lack adequate continuation of policy. 2. Most​new incumbents​, by and large, come raw to tourism. Most of them have no previous background in the industry – and tourism is a very deceptive industry, because everyone tends to think that by the virtue of being a tourist, they would know tourism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being a tourist does not mean that you would understand the sensitivities of the tourism process. Tourism, then, becomes that much more demanding and challenging.  ​Most states lack clearly defined goalposts, and the pillars around which the state product will evolve are often missing. Many states have a tendency to think they will paint large on the canvass, often there is also political pressure in distributing largesse across the state.   These pillars, more often, also get​tinkered easily​with by successive regimes, leading to every new incumbent pushing for their own stamp on policies. It is more difficult to tinker with policies in some other sectors like steel or power, because those are ongoing, and they are significant in themselves. ​   The second part is that a lot of the processes that tourism requires are difficult to be pursued​in a governmental framework. Issues like lowest tenders come in the way. Creativity has its price and is not always easily measurable. Transparency, too, is essential, but tourism cannot be managed like any other government department per se.   It is vitally important to understand what the states have learned over the years, and to make this available as their collective wisdom​; what solutions they have found, ​goalposts that they have nurtured, ​their successes and ​ failures. We need intensive dialogues, discussion groups through the year, not just an annual exercise​and somewhere a policy making​body like NITI Aayog can take the lead in creating this framework.  ​Much ​of this framework needs to be outside of the government processes, and must also include, at some point, the private sector, the industry at large. They must also include valuable stakeholders from each individual state tourism product.  ​It can become all embracing, comprehensive and inclusive.

Nitish Kumar

CM, Bihar after inspecting infrastructural arrangements for the upcoming 350th Prakash Parv in Patna

,,

Devotees coming from different parts of the globe should get a good impression about the state and its people.

Vijay Rupani

CM, Gujarat on a Wagah like spectacle in Gujarat to woo tourists The Gujarat government in coordination with BSF will soon flag off the seema darshan programme in the border region of Banaskantha district, close to the lines of Wagah border, for the public.

,,

Mehbooba Mufti

CM, Jammu& Kashmir speaking at a function, urging tourists to visit J&K The atmosphere is very good, the place is picturesque and then snowfall is in the offing and I would like to invite all the people of the country to visit Kashmir and enjoy our hospitality.

,,

Sukhbir Singh Badal

Deputy CM, Punjab after inaugurating amphibious bus ride at Harike Wetlands

Contents Cross Currents

Tourism: Niche

4. MoT moots subsidised GST rate for

Hotels + Resorts

16. Madame Tussauds: Coming in 2017, likely to diversify Delhi’s tourism 7. Esselworld: Inadequate infrastructure 1 and high land cost hamper growth, says CEO 18. Karnataka: Lack of single window clearance key rider to boosting numbers 19. DLF Mall of India: Organised retail strengthens tourism product 28. Weddings Kovalam, Udaipur and Goa are top picks

10. Marriott Hotels: Close to market,

Outbound

MICE tourism, promises more intensive marketing outreach 5. J&K Tourism in aggressive mode to promote business this winter, starts with a people first approach 6. MMT-ibibo: Merger will expedite travel industry’s shift from offline to online space 8. Andhra Pradesh: Will leverage the ‘unexplored’ quotient; seeks investments

localising talent, creating specialised resources 2. Accor: Hotel brands and OTAs need 1 to work together to change consumer behaviour 13. Taj Hotels Sign with Shangri-La on a Rewards Programme, open to more such alliances

Aviation 14 IndiGo goes global, ties up with Travelport to boost its distribution channel 15 CAPA Report: Technology and consumer awareness to disrupt the global aviation market

20. Switzerland: Aims at giving a new spin to the destination, woos adventure outbound 21. New Zealand: Tourism top segment of export and jobs, Indians seek experience 22. Germany: Barrier-free movement making tourism accessible to all 24. Peru: Makes tourism count for national growth 25. One& Only: Uniqueness of a destination and its offerings integral to its portfolio 26. Britain: Moots a brand-new marketing campaign

BITB 30. Industry lauds the launch edition of BITB

This project will bring Amritsar on the global map of tourism. We have taken the first step. For the buses in canals, we will need to increase the height of the bridges constructed over canals.

,,

Valsa Nair

Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, Maharashtra speaking at a function on state’s bid to position itself as a top medical tourism destination The state aims to be the number one destination for medical tourism through state-of-the-art health care facilities, welltrained medical professionals and low cost of delivery compared to Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

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Navin Berry navin.berry@bitb.org senior writer: Shashank Shekhar shashank@tourismfirst.org features editor: Priyaanka Berry priyaanka.berry@bitb.org business development: Saurabh Shukla saurabh.shukla@bitb.org editor:

Tourismfirst is owned, published and printed by Navin Berry and printed at Anupam Art Printers. B-52, Naraina Phase II, New Delhi. It is published from 36-37, 3rd Floor, Indra Palace, H-Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110 001. Tel: 011-43784444.   Total pages 32


CROSS Curre nts: tourism

4

MoT moots subsidised GST rate for MICE tourism, promises more intensive marketing outreach Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism shared that the ministry has been seeking lower rate of tax in the MICE and convention segment and with the GST coming in, he expects the existing rates to come down substantially. Speaking at ICPB meet, held a few days ago, in the capital, he talked about the need for defining a clear road map and a stronger marketing outreach to remain relevant in a globally competitive marketplace. Excerpts of his speech:

When the GST comes in, it is important for all of us, and we the ministry is trying very hard, but the industry also needs to put its strength behind, making sure that the convention and MICE segment of business gets treated favourably. So, one of the things that we have been suggesting, and pushing with the finance ministry is that MICE needs to be treated in a lower bracket of tax. We are seeking that the rate should be around 9% or so. BILLA AaronSUMAN wodin-schwartz JOINT SECRETARY, OF TOURISM, directorMINISTRY public policy, brandGOVT. usa OF INDIA

BY TF Bureau

O

n e-visa

We have been, for a long time, taking it up with the government to allow conference visa under the electronic visa system. That has finally been agreed to by the government. The notification is yet to come, but they have agreed to in-principle, and that is a big boost for us.

On GST

,,

We need to be prepared for the Goods and Service tax, which will begin rather sooner than later. When the GST comes in, it is important for all of us, and we the ministry is trying very hard, but the industry also needs to put its strength behind, making sure that the convention and MICE segment of business gets treated favourably. So, one of the things that we have been suggesting, and pushing with the finance ministry is that

MICE needs to be treated in a lower bracket of tax. Assuming that 18% is the standard rate for GST, we are seeking that the rate should be around 9% or so. But in any case, if you calculate the rate, 23-24% which prevails now, even in the worst-case scenario, we should come down to about 18% or so. But I think that it is not enough. The argument that we are making is that to be truly globally competitive, India’s tax rates need to be at par with the rest of the world. So, we have been saying that 5-7% is the acceptable rate across the world, and anything that goes into double-digits will make the industry fundamentally more unviable.

On budgetary proposal

Several people when they have to organise conferences and events, they go abroad. The argument that we are taking with them is that every conference that happens in India, and does not go abroad, is actually so much foreign exchange saved and so much more that comes into the domestic economy. So, we have been saying that there has to be an exemption for, or at least half the tax of income tax liability which will be on conducting these events abroad. So, that is to say that if there are tax incentives for these events which were to be held in India, again which were to go abroad, it is likely that it will be become a reasonably good kicker. It is not an easy thing. We have been pushing this for two years. But, let us see how it goes. Along with GST, if we are able to do that, I think it will be a big step. The understanding is that if there is a company and it has a conference to organise, and if you organise that conference in India and if you are able to show it as a part of your

expenditure, and get some amount of tax rebate in it, it incentivises people to do that in India, rather than taking it elsewhere.

The way forward for ICPB

We are doing a study and the terms of reference are done on where ICPB needs to go and what the size of this business is, because, typically, when we think incrementally, we are always looking at we are at position A today, and how do we get to position B – which is how we plan. I think we need to look at what is the size of opportunity that there is in this country for this segment, and then see how we need to recast ourselves. We would get a world-class consultant to map out a way forward and better understand what we need to be doing to encash this opportunity. So, that process is underway.

On Global Travel Mart

The Global Travel Mart was to happen in February, but I think we might be pushing the dates a little ahead. We will be hosting some 400-500 buyers, who can bring incremental business to the country. That is the piece where we also need to look at as ICPB.

On the need for stronger media outreach

This year we have already done some advertisements in media properties, which are generic to the MICE industry. We will continue that forward. I have also told them that we could look at creating a new series of print creatives for MICE. We have already made a film on the MICE segment – which is projecting India as a MICE destination. It is being made by BBC. So, we will have good audio-visuals to showcase our business.

Industry fraternity comes together at Hotelier India awards to felicitate KB Kachru for Lifetime Achievement Award

I

t was fraternity spirit all the way, as a host of awards were given out at the annual Hotelier India awards function. Lifetime Achievement Award was given to K B Kachru, Chairman Emeritus, Carlson Rezidor and Anil Bhandari, former CMD, ITDC and now chairman, AB Concepts; the Hall of Fame went to Dipak Haksar, CEO, ITC Hotels and the Excellence in Leadership Award to Rajeev Menon, Marriott Hotels boss for India and South Asia region, based out of Singapore. But most of all, it is the spirit of fraternity that this picture alongside shows, amidst all the competition and grabbing of market share. They all come together at any industry event.


CROSS Curre nts: tourism

5

J&K Tourism in aggressive mode to promote business this winter, starts with a people first approach There is a perceptible thaw in the mood in the Valley. After months of closure and strains in the livelihood of its people, winter tourism seems on the rise with both government, industry and the local population keen on reviving the industry for its economic gains.

J

&K has been always been in the forefront among states in tourism. This gets diluted every time there is unrest in the valley. The second half of 2016 witnessed continued unrest resulting in almost zero footfalls. With the return of normalcy, tourism is also fast witnessing a come back. Of special interest to J&K watchers and specially of tourism in the valley was the unprecedented appeal from the Hurriyat requesting tourists to come to the valley. It

was another matter that their appeal was also accompanied with a fresh calendar of shut downs and protests. Even then, it was unusual and a definite show of support for tourism and it augurs well for normalcy in the state. Tourism in the state is the major economic activity and winter tourism in particular can become the mainstay. Conversely, if tourism does not happen, it would be the Hurriyat to blame. Whatever

be the politics, tourism stands to gain and remains critical to providing a lifeline to the local people in Srinagar and throughout Kashmir. In fact, in recent years, Jammu and Ladakh have also started attracting winter tourism. The tourist season could well become a 365 day affair. The Hurriyat’s call for resumption of tourism in the state was followed by a passionate plea by the CM herself, indicating a broad-based consensus cutting

across the political spectrum in favour of tourism and normalcy.

13TH HOTEL INVESTMENT CONFERENCE - SOUTH ASIA (HICSA) 2017 GRAND HYATT MUMBAI

Shah AaronFarooq wodin-schwartz Secretary J&K usa director public Tourism, policy, brand

HOSTED BY

REGISTER NOW | 5-6 APRIL, 2017 Notable Speakers Amitabh Kant Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog Arun Nanda Chairman, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Ashish Jakhanwala Chief Executive Officer, SAMHI Binod Chaudhary Chairman, CG Corp Global Christopher J Nassetta President and CEO, Hilton Worldwide Craig Smith President - Asia Pacific, Marriott International David Scowsill President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council Jonathan Vanica Managing Director Asian Special Situations Group, Goldman Sachs Kapil Chopra President, The Oberoi Group Kavin C Bloomer Executive Director, Morgan Stanley Mark Hoplamazian President and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation Michael Issenberg Chairman and CEO - Asia Pacific, AccorHotels Peter Henley President and CEO, Onyx Hospitality Peter Kerkar Group Chief Executive Officer, Cox and Kings Rakesh Sarna Managing Director and CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces Thorsten Kirschke President - Asia Pacific, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Vikram Oberoi Managing Director and CEO, The Oberoi Group

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For participation, please write to HICSA@hvs.com OR log on to www.HICSAconference.com

Meanwhile, the state government has been relying heavily on domestic tourism and has not missed any opportunity to participate at trade shows and industry events throughout the country. Industry roadshows have been planned with major participation, led by the local industry in the state. The state government is specially looking to promote niche tourism in the adventure, MICE and golf segments and has been actively involved in meeting with target groups in these verticals. One such event was the 15-day J&K Tourism Food Craft and Culture Festival 2016 at Dilli Haat in the capital, organized by J&K Tourism in collaboration with department of handicrafts. The festival was inaugurated by MoS Tourism, Priya Sethi who invited the audience to make the most of forthcoming winter in visiting the state. Chairman Hoteliers Club Mushtaq Chaya and President Travel Agents Society of Kashmir Ibrahim Siah, other senior officials of tourism department, government of J&K, travel trade, association members of ADTOI, IATO, TAAI, TAFI and other travel & tourism fraternities, media and the large number of visitors at Dilli Haat were also present on the inaugural day. Speaking on the occasion, Priya Sethi said that J&K has a variety of products to offer to varied taste of travellers and the department is equipped with all the facilities to cater to the visitors to the state. Sethi said that the department is holding winter carnival and snow festival in Kashmir as part of its busy winter calendar to invite winter tourism lovers and she urged the people to come experience this season in J&K. Besides, the department will also hold adventure sports activities in Gulmarg and Pahalgam to attract adventure lovers, the Minister added. The display of the state’s varied cuisines including Kashmiri Wazwaan, traditional food items from Ladakh and Jammu regions emerged as the prime attraction of the event.


CROSS Curre nts: online / technology

6

MMT-ibibo: Merger will expedite travel industry’s shift from offline to online space The merging of operations by two of the major domestic players in the online space, MakeMyTrip and ibibo, will have a profound impact on the future of the industry, says Deep Kalra. He articulates that consumers would have a wider gamut of services and price points to choose from and the industry would witness more rationalization with regard to margins and discounts.

Deep Kalra Founder and mentor, MakeMyTrip

As told to Navin Berry

T

he Indian e-commerce industry has truly taken off especially in the last few years. Brands like MakeMyTrip, Flipkart, Paytm, Amazon and Snapdeal, which were previously deemed to be for the urban and educated, have now become household names. Rapid consumer adoption led by increased smartphone and thus mobile internet penetration is the primary factor driving growth for this nascent but fast growing industry. These new age companies are solving real and existing challenges faced by consumers, that of access and reach. Consumers who previously did not have access to high quality products and services, are now realising the benefits of shifting their research, selection and subsequently purchase online. That said, as the sector grows and matures, consolidation is imminent. So what happens when two of the leading players in a category decide to join hands and merge their operations? How does a development as this impact the end consumer? The answer lies in the case discussed underneath.

MakeMyTrip – ibibo Merger

In mid-October 2016, two leading companies in the online travel space in India – MakeMyTrip and ibibo Group agreed to pursue a transaction that would consolidate their efforts to create one large entity – MMYT – truly a one stop destination for consumers’ travel needs. Whether they are travelling by air, bus or rail and staying at a 5-star luxury hotel in a Metro City or a homestay property at a hill station for the holidays, the combined entity will be able

The combined entity will truly be a one stop shop for all travel needs. It brings together some of the strongest consumer brands under one umbrella, namely MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, redBus, Rightstay and Ryde – each offering the widest range of travel solutions, some catering to niche areas while some offering end to end services. The consolidation will also result in the operational efficiencies and we will see the value that the company derives out of these efficiencies being passed on to the end consumer.

,,

to offer the right travel products, at the right price point and across multiple familiar and strong brands. The combination is set to bring together a bouquet of much loved and popular consumer travel brands, including MakeMyTrip, goibibo, redBus, Ryde and Rightstay, which together processed 34.1 mm transactions during FY2016. This consolidation will have deep impact on three key areas – consumers, the companies and the industry at large.

For the consumers

The combined entity will truly be a one stop shop for all travel needs. It brings together some of the strongest consumer brands under one umbrella, namely MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, redBus, Rightstay and Ryde – each offering the widest range of travel solutions, some catering to niche areas while some offering end to end services. The consolidation will also result in the operational efficiencies and we will see the value that the company derives out of these efficiencies being passed on to the end consumer by means of attractive price points, wider range of selection/ inventory and enhanced user experience. As the entities integrate their operations, we will also see them streamlining and integrating their processes which implies that the user experience will now become more consistent and seamless. One could also expect some integrations with regards to some of the properties which were previously unique to a specific brand. For example, both MakeMyTrip and Goibibo run their respective wallet programmes, the merger of the two entities could also see some consumer benefitting integrations in this space. All in all, the value creation potential as a

result of this consolidation is tremendous and consumers should be able to see real and quantifiable benefits going forward.

For the company

The transaction will combine the complementary strengths of each business. MakeMyTrip brings its strong brand, robust mix of domestic and outbound hotels and packages business and strong position in the air ticketing business. ibibo Group, via its brand goibibo and redBus, comes with a strong presence in various fast growing travel segments including hotels, bus bookings and air ticketing. With this deal MakeMyTrip and ibibo Group are joining forces and will be in a position to create an even more scalable enterprise and leverage their deep understanding of consumer preferences and expertise in the domain to transform the travel booking experience for Indian travellers. By combining the best practices and human talents of both companies, the combined entity will be able to innovate and solve traveller’s pain points much faster and accelerate the natural shift from offline to online in various travel segments. Previously competitors and now allies, we will also see some cost efficiencies and spend rationalisation going forward. In India, majority of the travel bookings still happens and the market has just really started to open up, especially when it comes to non-air segment. The online hotel space still very under-penetrated and fragmented, literally in the low double-digits - under 15% presenting a tremendous opportunity for the two companies to take on together as a joint entity. The energy and effort which was previously being spent to tackle competition that one faced from the other, the two companies post integration will be able to focus on new growth areas especially in the accommodation segment.

For the industry

The consolidation resulting of the merger will bring greater efficiencies within the overall travel ecosystem. The air market in India is fairly mature and well penetrated online. The opportunity lies in the accommodation segment which includes hotels and other alternate accommodation options like guesthouses, villas, secondary homes etc... This segment, as mentioned above is underpenetrated and fragmented. As a result of this consolidation, one can expect rationalisation with regards to margins and discounts. Further, with the companies jointly taking on the task of catalysing the shift from offline to online, the online travel industry at large stands to benefit.

MakeMyTrip merged with goibibo and became the single biggest player in the Indian online travel space. A snapshot of how the deal stacked up: ◗ The estimated value of the merged entity: $1.8-2 billion. ◗ The merged entity will be owned 60% by MakeMyTrip shareholders and 40% by ibibo shareholders, bringing under one umbrella, popular online properties MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, redBus and Ryde. ◗ South Africa’s Naspers and Tencent, which own Ibibo, is set to become the largest shareholders in the combined entity with a 40% stake. ◗ Naspers owns 91% of the holding company which controls Ibibo and Tencent the rest. ◗ At the end of March 2016, the major shareholders in Makemytrip were SAIF Partners (14.1%), Ctrip (16.6%) and T Rowe Price, Deep Kalra and Wasatch Advisors (approximately 10% each) ◗ Gross bookings for MakeMyTrip amounted to be 1.85 billion dollars in fiscal 2016. ◗ To closely examine the financial aspects of the deal, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs acted as the exclusive financial advisors to MakeMyTrip and Ibibo Group, respectively. ◗ As per a study jointly conducted by KPMG and Confederation of Indian Industry, the online travel segment comprises about 61 percent of the total ecommerce industry in the country, which stands at over $27.5 billion.


presenting the big picture

india tourism summit 2017 24th march

new delhi

stand-alone edition

Announcing India’s most innovative tourism event, the first ever India Tourism Summit. 24th March, 2017. New Delhi In the tradition of events such as HT Leadership Summit and India Today Conclave, and numerous others in diverse economic activities dominating the mindscape. Tourism’s time has come, with our announcement of an innovative extension of BITB Conclaves with a first ever TourismFirst India Summit, bringing travel and tourism into the mainstream consciousness. India’s first mover in tourism events, Cross Section Media, innovating in tourism since 1975, relaunched in this space last October with BITB, Bharat International Tourism Bazaar, a progressive B2B forward-looking trade show. This event coincided with six Power Conclaves anchored by leading industry associations/corporate captains. Inspired by their success, we introduce a stand-alone Power Event that is inclusive and comprehensive in bringing India’s tourism together. For enquiries: Saurabh Shukla: 9899521421 


CROSS Curre nts: citie s and state s

8

A layout of the new capital of the divided Andhra Pradesh, Amravati is pegged to be a modern metropolis. The Prime Minister along with CM Chandrababu Naidu inspect the blue print proposed capital.

Andhra Pradesh: Will leverage the ‘unexplored’ quotient; seeks investments The newly formed Andhra Pradesh has ushered new opportunities for investment into tourism and hospitality, said Srikant Nagulapalli, Secretary to Andhra Pradesh Government (Tourism & Culture). In an exclusive interview to TF, he highlighted state’s diverse tourism offerings, key initiatives on the policy front and the state government keenness on projecting the state as a destination with several tourism segments in its repertoire, and not leaning on a handful of tourism pegs.

Srikant Nagulapalli Secretary to Andhra Pradesh Government (Tourism & Culture)

By shashank shekhar

A

ndhra Pradesh’s most visited tourism assets emanate from religious and spiritual tourism segment – some of the temples in the state are most visited sites in India. How critical are these for the overall tourism bouquet of the state?

Andhra Pradesh, as you rightly said, is known for religious tourism. It has the bestmanaged temples in the country, and also the richest Hindu temple and the most visited Hindu temple in Lord Balaji and Tirupati. But, as far as tourism is concerned, what we are looking at is to explore the tourism assets of the state, the newly-divided state of Andhra Pradesh, for promoting tourism, not only based on the pillar of religious tourism, but also on heritage, culture and the authentic tourist experiences that can emerge because of its natural advantages as a state. We would like to leverage on the undiscovered territory

snippets

The state has a very long coastline of over 1,000 kilometres. Also, it has two very large rivers in Krishna and Godavari – which has potential for water sports and cruise tourism. Then the delta area of Godavari has almost 1,00,000 acres of existing backwaters. Though the coast is long, we have pockets which are safe and suitable for swimming and tourism, beside cruise tourism and river Godavari, that is another part. We wish to develop all the three with the right kind of infra and policy framework for investors to come and make investments.

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with Airbnb, Stayzilla and MakeMyTrip, all three, and now we are in the process of finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with all these three entities. Our idea is, I mean nowadays, a lot of the younger generation is educated and the younger lot are settling down in various other countries, or elsewhere in the metropolitan cities. There are very good houses existing in the rural areas and semiurban areas which remain idle. So, we want to utilize that idle capacity for tourism purposes in order to improve the value of the state, and towards that end, we intend to partner with these agencies. The policy on homestays is also being brought out. We are also bringing out a policy for heritage homes, that is also something that we are undertaking.

One unique advantage the state has is its coastline. It is very well endowed in that sense, and a lot of work in that direction has already moved, as we read in media reports about state’s push in the adventure sport tourism segment. Could

The State Government is in the process of formulating policy in the homestay segment and likely to rope in some of the major players. of the state; undiscovered culture; undiscovered heritage; undiscovered architecture; undiscovered lifestyle and also the immense opportunities that the divided state has thrown open for investors. So, all this put together, we would like to leverage for promoting state’s tourism.

You talked about creating experiences. I think a part of that strategy has been tying up with OTAs to get the homestay segment moving in the state. How are you going about it? Tell us a little bit about homestays and the state’s foray therein? For homestays, we had detailed discussions

you share with us some key policies and programs that are being put in place by the state government?

Firstly, the state has a very-long coastline of over 1,000 kilometres. Secondly, it has two very large rivers in Krishna and Godavari – which has potential for water sports and cruise tourism. Then the delta area of Godavari has almost 1,00,000 acres of existing backwaters. Though the coast is long, and it is the East coast, we have pockets which are extremely safe and suitable for swimming and tourism, beside cruise tourism and river Godavari, that is another part. We wish to develop all the three with the right kind of infrastructure and policy framework for in-

Punjab unveils amphibious buses at Harike Wetlands to boost connectivity and tourism

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ollowing the cue of states like Maharashtra and Goa to utilize the tourism potential emanating from water bodies, Punjab tourism has set up a much-awaited water tourism facility. With an initial cost of ten crores, the recently unveiled amphibious bus project – Harike cruise – at Harike Wetlands is one of the more ambitious undertakings of the state government. The move, at the largest wetland in the northern India, is aimed at tapping the abundant network of waterways in the state’s armoury to boost tourism and footfalls, beside muscling up state’s connectivity. Wetlands of Harike is renowned for its flora and

fauna. The confluence of Satluj and Beas, especially, is replete with dolphins and several species of bird. The state government has procured an amphibious bus for the initial phase of the project and depending on the response of tourists, it plans to procure two more buses in the next six months. The recently launched project includes tourist facilities, including a canteen, bird watching towers, change rooms and bird watching trails among others. Also, to ensure easy access for tourists coming from Amritsar, a tourist reception centre has been created at the railway station, which would also ensure transfer facilities to the boarding point at Harike.

vestors to come and make their investments and start operations.

You have commenced Heli-tourism in the state – which is currently operational between Shilpa Ram and Tirupati. Is the state tourism looking at expanding the service to other parts of the state? J&K is doing it fairly successfully. Are you looking at tapping the luxury segment? What is the plan there?

Heli-tourism in Tirupati, now, is primarily in the city and the surrounding areas that we intend to cover. But then there is also Srisailam – which is accessible from Hyderabad by a helicopter – that is another potential that we are looking at. Apart from this, Vishakhapatnam is another location that, for locals, Heli-tourism is something that we are looking at.

There is also a certain degree of Buddhist heritage in the state. Although, it may a bit far-fetched, but given that the central government has been working on creating a Buddhist Circuit, do you envisage the possibility of Andhra Pradesh being a part of the larger Buddhist Circuit itinerary?

Yes, certainly. Because after Bodh Gaya, one of the most important sites, as far as Buddhism is concerned, on this earth is Amravati, because of Acharya Nagarjuna having stayed and taught there. He exported Buddhism from India to the Far East – to the eastern part of the world. In that context, we have extremely important ancient Buddhist heritage site in Amravati. We intend to develop that. We are doing that currently, not only in terms of infrastructure, but also by popularizing the site and making local people and the people of the country understand and feel proud of it.

What is the image that you wish Andhra Pradesh to acquire in the eyes of a traveller? What are the important aspects of the larger tourism profile that the state tourism board will be focusing on?

It is a large state with almost 1000 kilometres in length. So, it is a state full of diversity. On the northern end near Odisha, you have Vishakhapatnam with different tribal cultures and hills, and the beaches and cosmopolitan city – that is one part. When you come to the heart of Andhra Pradesh, you have river bodies, backwaters and different cultures, which is like the authentic experience of the civilization of the state one can experience. And, if you go to Amravati, you can experience the Buddhist past. You can go back to 2,500 years and experience that. Down south, in the Nellore region, near Chennai, a different world awaits you in terms of eco-tourism with places like the Pulicat Lake. If you go towards, Bengaluru, near Karnataka, all the Rayelaseema region is full of heritage, historic and pre-historic sites dating back to 60,000 years. So, it is a land of diversity, basically. Each of these five regions have their own distinct and strong heritage and cultural offerings.


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Marriott Hotels: Close to market, localising talent, creating specialised resources ​Marriott Hotels took over the Starwood group earlier this year, and the process of integrating the larger​emerged entity is in progress. It will remain work in progress over many months to come, with 1st January, 2017 heralding in significant changes in staff and corporate level appointments have been announced. TourismFirst met the newly announced MD of the India and South Asia office, Neeraj Govil. Dilip Puri who was heading the Starwood portfolio will continue as advisor to the new entity. Therefore, his advice and industry relationships, specially with the owners, will serve the company in good stead. Presented below are excerpts with Neeraj Govil:

Moving forward​,​ we will rationalize the actual identity of the brand. What we want a Renaissance to stand for ​as opposed to, say Le Meridian. Our strength today is that we have 15 brands today in India. Idea is to gather the brands and ensure a distinctive identity for the brands. So, we might have a few tweaks. ​our strength is in the brands. The more the brands​,​the better the chance of dominating the market. I can’t have 10 JW’s in one city, but I can have 10 different brands in one city. NEERAJ GOVIL AREA VICE PRESIDENT-SOUTH ASIA, MARRIOTT INC.

By Navin Berry

​H

ow is the new structure looking? Will you be based out of Mumbai or Delhi?​

We will be head quartered out of Mumbai but we will maintain a Delhi office, the existing Starwood office and we will also have local resources deployed in Bangalore and Calcutta.

We understand your portfolio across territories has also changed?​

My portfolio is now South Asia which is really India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

,,

And what about the entire corporate structure?

The whole thinking is that we need to have people close to the market who understand the nuances of the local micro-markets. We need to be a large enough organization but also very nimble and close to market. Currently I have put a market leader in Bangalore where we operate 9 hotels, going to 13 hotels. And this leader is in t​ he local market. Same thing we have done in Calcutta. We have the GM of JW Marriott Calcutta who is the multi-property VP of East India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. She can get to these markets very quickly. S​ he is able to converse fluently in Bengali, ensure the local touch. I​n Delhi,​ we will have Sanjay Sharma from Starwood.

We are creating these localized specialist resources very close to the hotels.

​But this would be at the senior corporate levels, what about down the line?​

S​ ure, and equally importantly, we are localizing talent. In our entire team in India, in our Area level positions​, our people a​ re basically Indians or of Indian origin. So, we are bringing local expertise to the market where we can better communicate with owners. Marriott as a brand is big on localizing talent and diversity. If you look at our mix today of the new​area teams, y​ ou will find home grown talent, diversity and talented people. Indians understand India best, they can speak the languages. There is a lot of thought process in deploying these teams. The third piece of the structure is specialized positions. For instance, putting in a Director of Culinary which we didn’t have before. We have specialized resources deployed against OTA’s, someone who can negotiate with different OTAs. We have deployed re​s​ources in engineering, in IT etc. So we have had to increase our procurement. Having these specialist positions has become critical.

So for instance, a Director of Culinary, what will he do?

So t​ ypically,​​the D ​ irector of Culinary is a chef. He will move around from hotel to hotel, check the hotel quality and ensure the standard of delivery. Similarly, we will have the Director for OTA’s who will liase with OTAs.

A​t​one point you were strengthening your own website and sales? So, is that a second thought​, in that you also want to work with OTAs​? Its not a second thought. There is enough for everyone. OTAs are not bad for us. They are very good for us. We want to be on every shelf. Now if you book on Marriott.com, it

is the cheapest form of reservation and we want more of that. We also understand that OTAs have their own database, their own following of loyal customers who will always book through them and we are respectful of that. We are not seeing OTAs as a competitor.

The hotel industry is today seeing a lot of the OTAs as a threat or disruptive, so that is not how you see them?

I see the OTAs as another channel to market our products but it should be on terms that are agreeable to us.

You are not giving them bundle​d​rates?

No, we don’t give them bundle​d​rates. We want to be able to control the distribution. So today the best available that you can get is on Marriott.com, which is our direct channel.

But will you allow one of them to buy from you and sell at a rate lower than you? We have the best rate guarantee.

Typically, what a OTA may do is to buy inventory and sell it at a subsidized rate to build their own market share? So, could they take a room from you and sell it at 30% reduced rates? They are not allowed to do that.

And what if they do?

Then we will stop working with that OTA. OTAs are big enough today to understand that it is a collaboration. And at the end of the day they provide an additional outreach on agreeable terms.

The one big question we had when you were to take over Starwood is, what will you do with your manpower? 100% has been retained. Today​,​when you see the explosive growth we have in the pipeline. Next year for example, in South Asia itself, we will open a minimum of about 20 hotels. I need 20 GMs, 20 sales leaders etc. We have every opporturnity within our system to absorb them.

So, if someone has left, it is entirely their decision to do so? Yes.

Marriott International leadership structure post the merger Neeraj Govil: Area Vice President, South Asia, Marriott Inc. Sanjay Sharma: Market Vice President, North India, Marriott Inc. Ranju Alex: Multi Property Vice President, East India, Bhutan and Bangladesh & General Manager, JW Kolkata, Marriott Inc Jatin Khanna: Multi Property Vice President, Bengaluru & General

Manager, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, Marriott Inc. Hemant Tenneti: Senior Area Director, Operations, South Asia, Marriott Inc. Kadambini Mittal: Senior Area Director, Sales & Marketing, South Asia, Marriott Inc. Rahul Puri: Senior Area Director, Revenue, South Asia, Marriott Inc.

Gurmeet Singh: Senior Area Director, Human Resource, South Asia, Marriott Inc. Dharam Reshamwalla: Senior Area Director, Finance, South Asia, Marriott Inc. Khushnooma Kapadia: Area Director, Marketing, South Asia, Marriott Inc. Sarvanna Raj: Area Director, Engineering, South Asia, Marriott Inc.

Between the two brands, in the new emerged Marriott portfolio, you have so many multiple brands​.​​D​o you see any brand contradictions or duplications​, which may necessitate your easing out some or tweaking some?

So, the reality is that we have 14 brands in India today spread over 84 operating hotels, with close to 19000 rooms. We will open the W in Goa very soon. That will b ​ e ​our 15th brand in India. Marriott International has 30 brands so India has only half the brands. Now is there any plan to rationalize or get rid of any of the brands? Absolutely not. For various reasons. The number one reason is that we believe as a company, having a basket of brands is a huge plus to us. Marriott didn’t acquire Starwood for real estate assets, but primarily for their brands, their distribution and thirdly for their


hote ls + re sorts talent. If you ask are we getting rid of talent? Absolutely not. Why would we? One of the reasons was to get the best of talent. Both Marriott and Starwood have invested immensely in their brands today.

​But will you be open to tweaking them?​

Moving forward​,​we will rationalize the actual identity of the brand. What we want a Renaissance to stand for a​ s opposed to, say Le Meridian. Our strength today is that we have 15 brands today in India. Idea is to gather the brands and ensure a distinctive identity for the brands. So, we might have a few tweaks. o ​ ur strength is in the brands. The more the brands​,​the better the chance of dominating the market. I can’t have 10 JW’s in one city, but I can have 10 different brands in one city. If you look at Bangalore, we have a JW, a Ritz, a Marriott, a Sheraton Grand, ​ two​ Alofts, o ​ ne​ Four Point, t​ wo​ Fairfields and ​ two​  Courtyards.

But would you have 4 JWs?

Why not? If the market supported​them​, then yes. Both our JWs in Mumbai are doing phenomenally well.

Regarding inbound tourism to India, with this big portfolio, any specific plans you have to promote India?

We do all the generic steps. Then we have the global sales organizations that basically sell globally. So India is certainly there. If you look at inbound into India, the​re are​three main buckets you can wrap t​ he product​. O ​ ​ne is leisure. As we continue to get more resorts in India and look at our distribution across

cities,​with presence now in Jaisalmer, two Marriott hotels in Jaipur and one in Agra,​I can now create a Marriott Golden Triangle. In the South, we now have access to resort hotels we never had. So now I can go out and tom-tom the leisure segment which I could not do before. We will run specialised marketing campaigns globally to our reward members to come to India and capitalize on the 84 million R ​ ​eward members on the leisure front. There are definite plans for this. The second is conventions. In India, besides Hyderabad, we till recently did not have

come and they did source market calling. There is a massive business for that. We are through o ​ ur ​GSO​(global sales organization) selling India outbound and it is growing rapidly. India is a huge market.

How are the room revenues?

Is demonetisation ​having any effects upon your business?

It turned out to be a great month. We had a lot of pre-booked business. December will depend on what happens after 20th December. It is the last 10 days that determines this month.

Yes it has. S​ pecially in the tier 2 cities, and also in our resort destinations. On the plus side, we are seeing businesses that went into the unorganized sector, come to hotels now. Markets like Delhi, the numbers are actually

I see the OTAs as another channel to market our products but it should be on terms that are agreeable to us. We don’t give them bundle​d​rates. a significant presence in this market. But today again with a JW Aerocity and the JW Sahar we are starting to see a bit of it. We are able to approach shows and h ​ ave some s​ ay here. In fact, within A ​ erocity hotels, we were able to create a consortium. We are able to ​ achieve some traction in this business​. And thirdl​y, we are very strong in the world of corporates. As and when we get more distribution into certain markets, we will see more travel come into that. So you see India getting promoted on multiple levels because now we have better distribution.

going up. We are seeing a major impact but more or less the pluses are taking care of the impact. What I have noticed is that the booking pace of social events in key markets such as Delhi has slowed down. It is because people are very cautious now.

What about India Outbound?

I would say there is an impact​,​about 10-15%. That too, it is​with​local diners.

​Two​ weeks ago, we had 20 GMs from China

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My understanding was that the ticket size per event has come down​, indicating a reluctance to spend​? That is debatable​, though there might be a down sizing to some extent.

What about regular F&B?

2 N D TOURISM, HOTEL INVESTMENT & NET WORKING CONFERENCE SRI LANKA 2017

Very good. 2016 was a strong year. There has been a double-digit growth compared to last year.

Was November an exception?

In your overall business portfolio, how is the foreign business vs India business happening? 70% is Indians for overall business in the new portfolio. Would be lower in the rooms, maybe 60%. I see domestic will continue to grow.

​ n another front, with all your 15 O brands, is your development team is common to them all?

Yes. It’s a very well executed process. Its a committee that decides. Feasibility comes into play. Brand, global design etc comes into play, and return for the investor​. It​’s not about just one person​.​

You are not investing in any of these​ new properties​?

No we don’t. we don’t own our hotels, and have a few JVs.

​ o, overall, how do you see the year S ahead?

Very promising, very exciting and full of opportunities.

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Accor: Hotel brands and OTAs need to work together to change consumer behaviour Given the fast altering dynamics of the digital space and rapidly transforming consumer behaviour, hotels will need a sharper focus on strengthening digital infrastructure and look at enhanced investments in digital PR, argues Arif Patel. In an exhaustive interview, he reflects on OTAs, innovative promotional strategies and relevance of loyalty programs in the current milieu. Excerpts: By shashank shekhar

T

he discussion on OTAs as a platform for hotel booking is not a new one. How has it been for your group off late? How critical are they for your overall reach out? What percentage of AccorHotels booking come from OTAs? Online travel agencies (OTAs) are great for customer acquisition. A potential guest in Nagpur who wants to stay at a Novotel hotel in Kolkata probably would have never heard of Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences if OTAs did not exist. They are providing us with a first-time client, at a cost which is cheaper than us creating a sales engine in Nagpur. Basically, when the guest visits our hotel, we need to ensure that they feel welcome. We need to also identify him or her, and invite them, whenever they visit the AccorHotels network, so next time around they don’t have to go back to an OTA. We call this the retention program. We are doing it in a very transparent manner, even vis-a-vis OTAs. They know we are doing it, and they are fine with it. Because most of their volume is first-time customers, which means we don’t have common interests, but we have common ambition, which is to develop the travel and tourism world. My thoughts may vary from that of a small independent hotel owner and operator, because if I have a retention program, that means I want that customer to benefit from other brands, and the other 3,999 hotels (besides the one he stayed at), which is my strength. If you are an independent hotel, and you only own one hotel, and every time you are going to have to pay an OTA, because you don’t have something else to offer. In the Indian context, brands and OTAs need to work together to change people’s buying behaviour. In India the net ADR driven by OTAs is still more profitable than traditional static rate business. Hotels will have to work and improve their share of voice through the digital front. They need to be more agile. The key dots such as digital infrastructure and social media are becoming increasingly relevant and therefore, investment in digital PR along with engagement and display campaigns is very crucial.

Some industry stakeholders believe that hotels need to take a more concerted approach to be able to sell better. It could be lesioning with state tourism boards and promoting the larger destination and benefitting from increased footfalls, something that has already been initiated in Goa. Do you think hotels will have to constantly innovate to reach out, especially on the international inbound side? Innovation is the cornerstone of success for any industry and hotels are no different. We are operating in a highly competitive business environment, with technology disruptions and changing guest behaviours creating newer and more complicated challenges for industry players. Of course it is important to promote tourism, especially

Arif Patel Aaron wodin-schwartz VP Sales, Marketing and Distribution, AccorHotels India director public policy, brand usa

inbound travel, to ensure steady inflow of guests to help sustain and grow businesses. Hotels also need to innovate and reinvent on a daily basis in order to stay relevant and distinguish themselves amidst intense competition. Take Goa for example. AccorHotels is the largest hotel operator in the beach state with three properties. However, the competition in Goa is intense with plenty of standalone properties as well as branded hotels to choose from. So how do we stay relevant and differentiate ourselves? The key lies in innovation. For the launch of India’s first ibis Styles hotel in Goa, we not only invested in content that markets the property but also content that evokes and appeals to the audience the hotel targets. Through the creative use of popular channels, including social media, we were able to reach as many as 20 million potential guests through Facebook alone. Promotional videos we created, including “Fake a Vacation to Goa” and “Things parents NEVER say about Goa”, went viral as they attracted as many as 5.5 million views and over 80,000 shares. The key to their success was not in promoting the hotel or the brand alone but the destination itself, thus boosting inbound tourism and helping increase footfalls and recall over a period of time.

With so much on offer– discounts and rates that are tough to beat, retention techniques like cashbacks and free stays– how much does a loyalty program really mean for the discerning consumer? How important is it right now for hotels to concentrate on? For OTAS and even e-commerce companies in general, all players essentially sell the same stuff from the same merchants to the same customers at the same prices. With no

In the Indian context, brands and OTAs need to work together to change people’s buying behaviour. In India the net ADR driven by OTAs is still more profitable than traditional static rate business. Hotels will have to improve their share of voice through the digital front. They need to be more agile. The key dots such as digital infrastructure and social media are becoming increasingly relevant and therefore, investment in digital PR along with engagement and display campaigns is very crucial.

,,

platforms in the coming years? It is a priority?

Technology is not merely concerned with adding ease to the guest experience, rather we take it a step ahead by aiming to provide a perfect amalgamation of technology along with the warmth of personal touch at AccorHotels. We are investing $225 million into a digital plan that will not only enhance every part of the customer’s journey but also improve the service experience of the staff, owners, franchisees and partners. As a part of this plan, we recently launched our new digital strategy - ‘Leading Digital Hospitality’ with the key objectives to rethink and incorporate digital technology throughout the customer journey. The plan is based on two essential pillars – IT infrastructure and data management. Mobile is an important ingredient of this strategy and we have taken bold steps in this direction with our One App. Over two billion people currently have a smart phone and as many as 65 per cent of travel searches are made through them while almost 42 percent of travellers around the world use a smartphone to plan or book a trip, thus making smart phones the preferred

Through the creative use of popular channels, including social media, we were able to reach as many as 20 million potential guests through Facebook alone. difference in merchandise, they often resort to price variation to attract customers. But in my opinion, burning cash through discounts is not a sustainable model. While it may help with first time customer acquisition, a very small percentage customers acquired through discounts stick. AccorHotels has taken a tough stand on pricing parity as we promise “best rate guarantee” for our guests. If you book an AccorHotels property online on any AccorHotels Internet site and find an equivalent offer within 24 hours on another website for the same hotel at a lower price, we will honour the lower rate and give you a further reduction of 10%. This goes on to demonstrate our commitment to price parity and how it is a non-negotiable point for us. While consumer behaviour and their booking patterns continue to change, evolving with time, the importance of building loyalty programs that are relevant to guests is crucial to hospitality industry, given that loyalty and reward programs have the potential to account for more than half of the hotel’s total reservations. With changing consumer behaviour and introduction of newer channels, loyalty programs can be a key differentiation to building customer engagement for the hotels.

Consumers are developing a vigorous appetite for mobile-based platforms. You have over a million downloads on Google Play Store. How much are you going to focus on mobile-based

device for finding, preparing and organising a trip. In the light of this growing trend, we recently launched a new version of our mobile application. As part of the rollout, various brand applications are now united in this single app which features all of the Group’s hotels. The AccorHotels app aims to be among the top three travel apps offering an enriched experience at every stage of the customer journey, starting from the pre-stay right up to the post-stay stage. In the recent years, we have noticed that customers are more interested in trip inspiration tools than they used to be because the tools are now, finally, at the right place at the optimal time: in their hand. My Web Valet app is a great example of how AccorHotels is leveraging technology to offer more personalised services and enable a seamless customer journey, helping guests plan and experience their trips better. The app is currently being rolled out at select properties around the world, including India at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity. In simple words, the app is an in-hotel digital solution that provides guests with faster and easier access to hotel services and facilities at every touch point. Not only does the platform offer access to essential services and hotel teams such as housekeeping, in-room dining and real-time view of due bills, My Web Valet helps guests discover their surroundings, gaining insights on local attractions and also learning crucial information. 


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Taj Hotels Sign with Shangri-La on a Rewards Programme, open to more such alliances Taj Group of Hotels is eyeing a bold strategy towards increasing its market penetration in the loyalty space, specially in the international business market. Keeping in mind the combining of two eminent hospitality rewards programmes, the merger of spg. com, the Starwood loyalty programme with Marriott Rewards, for an Indian hotel chain it has become critical to be able to offer increased benefits for its own customers. Both for Shangri-La and Taj, this is a win-win situation. By Navin Berry Is this one-off or should we expect more such alliances?

The Warmer Welcomes alliance gives our members and brands exposure to new markets and the broader scale necessary to compete in an era of mass consolidation and disruption. While we are open to more possibilities, we are in no hurry to form more alliances as brand synergies and cultural fit is

While we are open to more possibilities, we are in no hurry to form more alliances as brand synergies and cultural fit is very important. The main goal for such alliances will be to add more value to our most valuable loyalty members and guests. While we have no immediate plans of another alliance, we are open to more partnerships with like-minded brands that share our service philosophy and offer complimentary footprint in hotel locations.

brands that share our service philosophy and offer complimentary footprint in hotel locations.

Given the eminent presence of The Taj in India, how do you see the new emerged Marriott as a competitor to you group, specially in two categories - metro business travel and inbound tourism? We have a lot of respect for all hotel brands, especially new entrants like Marriott as they

Recognition is Just the Beginning The “Warmer Welcomes” programme will offer Shangri-La and Taj’s combined 6 million loyalty programme members the benefits most important to them: Chinmai Sharma Aaron wodin-schwartz Chief Revenue officer, Taj Hotels and Palaces director public policy, Resorts brand usa

Recognition: Members will be able to enjoy the perks of their elite status when they stay at any Shangri-La or Taj hotel with top-tier status matching. Earn points across 200 hotels, 27 countries and 131 destinations: Members of either program will now be able to earn award points in their preferred programme while staying with Taj or Shangri-La whether in Mumbai, New Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, London, New York and other key destinations in the world. Seamless redemptions: Members will be able to convert points to redeem awards between both programmes. very important. The interest of our guests and loyalty members will always come first.

How do you see the strategy behind more such, assuming you remain open to them?

The main goal for such alliances will be to add more value to our most valuable loyalty members and guests. While we have no immediate plans of another alliance, we are open to more partnerships with like-minded

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help the larger cause of promoting Travel and Tourism in an underdeveloped hotel market like India. While some international chains have a larger footprint and distribution power, we feel that we operate in our own niche segment. We don’t want to be globally present but we definitely want to be globally reputable. We are proud of our legacy, passed down to us from Jamsetji Tata, and we will continue to develop our products and services which seek inspiration from the nobility of Indian heritage

and culture. We believe that Tajness is the key to our differentiation, what sets us apart from our competition, and what brings guests back to stay with us time and again.

How relevant or important is market share in your perception?

Keeping a close eye on market share is imperative for any company. We are fortunate for the love and affection that we receive from our patrons and luckily, so far we have maintained or exceeded our fair market share in all our key markets. Our brand recall and engagement scores are much higher than all our competitors In India.

How do you see the future growth of Taj Hotels in number of properties, rooms and presence around the country?

Novotel Vijayawada gets pitched as part of Andhra Rising

The Taj brand carries a legacy of service and values and we want to ensure that this is brought to both domestic and international markets that matter to us. Our new philosophy of Tajness will focus on delivering great products and services which offer a taste of Indian tradition mixed with authentic local experiences. We are focusing on growing our brand footprint in key metros (like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore) and also in harnessing the growth that sectors including MICE or domestic leisure travel are seeing. We have about 2,000 rooms in our development pipeline in both domestic and international markets over the next few years. Taj has put many Indian destinations and itineraries on the global map (for e.g. Rajasthan, Goa, Kerala) and we will continue to do so for this beautiful country.

Hilton Hotels debut in Bali with a hilltop getaway in Hilton Bali Resort

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ignalling deep commitment towards the investment opportunities that the divided state of Andhra Pradesh has thrown open, French Ambassador to India, Alexandre Ziegler, on the invitation of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, visited Vijayawada along with a delegation of French businessmen for a presentation on opportunities in Andhra Pradesh and on the Amaravati Project by the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority.   He also visited the construction site of the 280 rooms Novotel hotel & Convention Center Vijayawada. He was joined by Jean-Michel Cassé, Senior Vice President, Operations, AccorHotels, India. The under construction of hotel, Novotel Vijayawada is a 280-room 5-star property set to open in the heart of the emerging capital city. Developed by Varun Group and operated by AccorHotels, the hotel will cater to leisure and corporate guests alike with contemporary design complemented by modern features and amenities. The hotel will feature 13,000 square feet of banquet area, making it an ideal destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions

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(MICE) activity. The highlight of the property will be a roof-top swimming pool and a unique jogging track on the terrace.   French Ambassador Alexandre, commenting on the development of the Novotel Vijayawada, said “It is heartening to see a familiar and large scale hotel being developed by a French Hospitality major like AccorHotels in the promising city of Vijayawada. The upcoming Novotel Vijayawada along with AccorHotels’ growing network of hotels in India are emblematic of the enriching partnership between India and France and they represent the finest amalgamation of legendary Indian and French hospitality and culture.”

ilton Bali Resort, Hilton’s first property in Bali, is situated atop a 40-meter cliff in the prestigious Nusa Dua area of Bali's southern peninsula. While offering direct access to one of the most picturesque beaches on the island, the resort is also within 1.3 kilometers of the 18-hole Bali National Golf Course and various watersports centers, and 3.7 kilometers from the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center. Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Kuta shopping district are also approximately 15 kilometers from the hotel via the Mandara toll road.   Each of the resort’s 389 guest rooms and suites combine modern amenities with local Balinese charm and feature private balconies and terraces overlooking the Indian Ocean or hotel gardens. Guests may also choose to stay in one of 19 exclusive villas which feature a private plunge pool, gazebo, separate living area, round-the-clock butler

service and access to the private Nusa Dua Villa Lounge, or an Executive Room, which has access to the Executive Lounge.   Hilton Bali Resort's extensive recreational facilities boast four interconnecting swimming pools including an adult-only pool, a sand lagoon, a 30-meter waterslide and a Jungle Kid's Club with indoor and outdoor playgrounds, and a 360-degree observation deck. In addition, guests may enjoy a sun deck, sauna, hot tub and gym, as well as a Mandara Spa, three indoor tennis courts and a retail outlet.


aviation

14

IndiGo goes global, ties up with Travelport to boost its distribution channel In a major development, which is likely to augment IndiGo’s presence in the global marketplace, the domestic carrier has tied up with one of the world’s foremost GDS provider, Travelport. The move will help create more visibility and consequently more business for IndiGo. Also, with the full range of airline products on display, it could rake up more revenues for the carrier with larger sales of its ancillary products. We bring you excerpts of the speech made by Aditya Ghosh, President and whole-time Director, Indigo as he talked about the significance of this agreement and its likely impact on the future of travel and tourism in India.

IndiGo’s content will be available through all Travelport’s point of sales solutions, including Travelport’s universal API. This means that all the travel agents who use Travelport will have full access to IndiGo’s content. The functionality and the content will be the same as IndiGo’s current market practice for agency distribution, and importantly there is no channel pricing differential, so it is not like we are slapping out a fee for agents to use this channel. Ghosh AaronAditya wodin-schwartz President andpublic whole-time indigo director policy,director, brand usa

By TF Bureau

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ndiGo gains global distribution of content without traditional costs associated with marketing outreach

We work with a lot of partners’, travel agents and corporate customers, both in the domestic and the international market. So, tying up with Travelport is a logical extension of that distribution strategy. So, with

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this agreement with Travelport, IndiGo gains global distribution of its content via Travelport’s presence across over 68,000 online and offline travel agents worldwide. IndiGo’s decision to call Travelport its strategic distribution partner will now allow IndiGo’s customers more choice, and provide IndiGo access to a wider segment of corporate customers and travel agencies in India and overseas. Without incurring, and that is the important part,

any additional cost of expanding its own sales and marketing teams, or the traditional costs associated with participating in the global distribution platform using old style industry platform.

Partnership with Travelport expands IndiGo’s global reach while maintaining its low-cost space

The LCC model has evolved over time based on customer demand across various geographies. While direct distribution remains an important model of distribution for IndiGo, this new partnership allows IndiGo to reach new customers, both in India and international markets. This is not unusual for LCCs and we have seen others do it, too, through Travelport – including Ryanair and EasyJet in Europe. IndiGo will be able to extend its distribution through travel agents, throughout the world, through this agreement while maintaining its low-cost space in order to reach new customer segment. IndiGo’s content will now remain available through Travelport via real-time external API link rather than traditional methods, often favoured by legacy network carriers – and still have their fares and ancillary products displayed in exactly the same way. IndiGo will also benefit from distribution their branded fares and ancillary content by Travelport’s travel merchandising, making it possible for travel agents to see pictures and product descriptions related to IndiGo fare products and compare the branded products side-by-side on the same screen, directly from the availability of the inventory. They will be able to do bookings of ancillaries for their customers, including excess baggage, meals and seat selection, lounge access and

things like that. Initially, IndiGo’s fares and ancillary revenues will be available in India and then it will be rolled out in a phased approach over 2017.

The agreement makes every travel agent a product expert, will help them gain workflow efficiency

With the ability to differentiate its value proposition to customers, IndiGo is empowering each agent to be a product expert on the airline sales offering. For the first time, travel agents will have access to competitive content from IndiGo, fully integrated into their preferred workflow. The availability of the content by Travelport’s travel commerce platform provides travel agents with workflow efficiency gains, for sharping in booking content and also allows them to offer customers greater flexibility, choice, and access to low-cost fares from a single aggregated fare display. IndiGo’s content will be available through all Travelport’s point of sales solutions, including Travelport’s universal API. This means that all the travel agents who use Travelport will have full access to IndiGo’s content. The functionality and the content will be the same as IndiGo’s current market practice for agency distribution, and importantly there is no channel pricing differential, so it is not like we are slapping out a fee for agents to be able to use this channel. We are very excited about it, because it is yet another important step in our journey to realise the dream to establish a large, reliable and consistent air transportation network in our country, and the region that allow tens of millions of people to chase their dream and opportunities every year.

Travelport’s platform allows integrated workflow comparison, selling of whole range of products Gordon Wilson, President and CEO, Travelport underlined the importance of marketing merchandise to induce profits for the airline, and iterated that Travelport platform’s capability to market a whole range of ancillary products made it a lucrative proposition for LCCs. He also underscored his commitment towards the Indian market, noting that from the GDS point of view, in terms of volume of tickets booked, it was already the third largest market globally. Excerpts:

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istribution is a key focus area for Travelport

We are a B2B platform and basically provide reservation facilities for travel agencies, online and Offline. We cater to 60,000-70,000 travel agencies and hundreds of travel consultants. What we do is we aggregate the content for hundreds of airlines, hundreds of thousands of hotel properties, car rental companies, cruise and rail etc. into one standardized workflow shopping comparison and integrated booking and change management capability. We processed 82 billion dollars’ worth of travel last year. That consisted of 117 million airline tickets, about 65 million hotel room-nights and around 91 million car rental days. Our computing power is on an industrial scale. We search and price billion itineraries a day, around the world. We are in 180 countries. Where Travelport really focuses is on five key areas. What we do not do is that we do not provide the backend inventory management system for airlines. We are focussed on distribution. How we take that content and distribute it around the world. There are two exceptions to that. We run the systems with Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. We lead our industry in the realm of airline and merchandise their content.

LCCs, hotels and payment solutions core segments of engagement

We are working with IndiGo, but talking about low cost airlines we pioneered the technology for LCCs to come to our platform using newer technology, enabling those low-cost airlines who in turn have pioneered this ancillary selling ability – to sell their full range of products through the travel agency and media. In the hospitality segment, we have 6,50,000 independent bookable hotels, around the world, in our system, and we have generated some 65 million room-nights. Last but not the least, we are the leaders in B2B payment. We have automated payments that go between travel

I think one of the key reasons why we have been successful in persuading IndiGo to come to our platform is that we can not just show their fares and the availability, we can also show through the travel agencies, online and offline and with corporate travel booking tools, all the range of IndiGo products, including ancillary and offered seats, bags, pre-ordered meals, fast-track security and whatever else it offers, we can make it available through our platform.

agencies and travel products to buyers – hotels, airline industry and like. We have a very fast growing business in that area. Travelport provides the mobile apps that are used by airlines, which collectively carried 210 million passengers last year. Airlines that operate our mobile app include Singapore Airlines, LATAM, Etihad among others. We just integrated Apple Pay; Singapore Airlines was the first in the world to integrate their inflight entertainment to the mobile app, meaning Gordon Wilson Aaron wodin-schwartz a passenger on the SingaPresident and policy, CEO, Travelport director public brand usa pore Airlines can pre-select what they want to watch on the plane, and the mobile app syncs with the inflight with over 180 others. I think the figure is 192. Merchandising entertainment. So, one can have a customized, personalised is a key area of profitability and differentiation for airlines. So, experience on the plane. the fact that we can do this on our platform is one of the reasons we have been successful in bringing in a whole range of carriers, including LCCs. We were the first ones to bring LCCs Ability to sell the whole range of IndiGo products onto our system. We have got about 30 LCCs operating in the helped persuade IndiGo come to our platform Asia-Pacific region. I think one of the key reasons why we have been successful in persuading IndiGo to come to our platform is that we can not just show their fares and the availability, we can also India extremely important aviation market show through the travel agencies, online and offline and with India is a hugely important market for Travelport. We have corporate travel booking tools, all the range of IndiGo prodbeen in this market for 20 years. We have a huge strategic ucts, including ancillary and offered seats, bags, pre-ordered partnership with ITQ – which distributes Travelport products meals, fast-track security and whatever else it offers, we can to travel agencies in the Indian marketplace. It has been a make it available through our platform. And now we do that very successful partnership for both our businesses.

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aviation

CAPA Report: Technology and consumer awareness to disrupt the global aviation market The recently launched CAPA Report has given a detailed insight into the changing dynamics of the global aviation market. One of the noteworthy assertion of the report points towards a major disruption in the current market trends, which will, primarily, be driven on the back of rising consumer awareness and technological assimilation in the process of buying and selling tickets. Excerpts of the report:

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isruption in the airline industry. It will happen sooner than we think

There are two essential elements to the airline industry: flying aeroplanes and selling (and buying) seats. More technically this can be described as (1) operational; and (2) marketing and sales. There are other important activities, such as lobbying government to limit competition, and exploiting frequent flyer programmes, but those two are the core activities now facing disruption. The former is unique to airlines, is uniquely regulated and engages massive governmental regulatory intervention, technical and economic. The marketing and sales activity has some aspects particular to aviation, but generally differs little from any other form of retail – except that most older airlines have tended to be particularly slow at learning the art. This analysis reviews the nature and degree of disruption in each core area and what potential the future holds. In the regulatory area, China will be the big disruptor as it expands into its new global role; and technology and the associated rise in consumer empowerment will transform the process of buying and selling tickets. It will happen sooner than we expect.

Addressing the ecosystem of creative disruption

more the exception than the rule. Yet that is starting to change. The process of natural selection is slow, but accelerating. For decades, operating aircraft was really the main activity of the industry, where engineers ran airlines. In the case of legacy airlines (that is, companies that existed prior to this century and perform full service operations), the silo nature of this operating vs selling distinction has been perpetuated across the company, much to the disadvantage of the airline, as customer relations and data analytics become increasingly important.

Economic and Safety regulation are endemic, but one is more necessary than the other

Operationally there are, in turn, two forms of regulation: safety and related, and economic. Little needs saying in the area of safety regulation, although because of its overriding importance, safety’s untouchable halo can sometimes be a useful weapon for those wishing indirectly to impose economic restrictions – as in the case of US pilot unions opposing the operations of Norwegian International across the North Atlantic. There they creatively argued among other things that “flags of convenience” were just around the corner (and therefore a loss of safety oversight) if Norwegian were allowed

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently identified “three ecosystems of creative disruption”: the “Internet of Things is expected to be a USD7 trillion industry by 2020, the Sharing Economy has a potential market opportunity of over USD450 billion, and local consumer On-Line Services has a potential market opportunity of USD500 billion. These ecosystems are the catalysts for creative disruption”, it argued. “They reduce barriers to entry for a new business down to imagination and the ability to maximize the ecosystem; they allow companies to improve productivity, reach new customers, introduce products and services faster than ever before; and they level the playing field between large, small and new companies, redefining competitive advantage.” Against this scenario, airlines have remained largely un-disrupted this century, while all around them has changed. This review argues why that status quo is likely to change profoundly. It will first address the regulatory system and why that will change, in large part due to the emergence of China, and then assess the parallel and complementary role of data analytics, personalisation and consumer empowerment. As the two coincide, the outcome will be unexpectedly disruptive.

to operate from Ireland. Reality promises otherwise, but it was sufficient to send the US Department of Transportation (DoT) and Department of State (DoS) into lengthy hibernation. It is the economic regulation that is so overweening as to be a destructive force, quite opposite to its original purpose. A main reason that an economic regulatory system established in 1945 can still exist in 2016 is the constant intrusion of nationalism. Moving from a mentality of “flag carriers” and all the nationalistic features that evokes inevitably takes time. Legally, the foundation is in the need for bilateral approval of air services and the persistent requirement for “substantial ownership and effective control” to reside in airlines designated to operate under these agreements.

PART I. The undoing of bilateral airline regulation

Surprisingly, the bilateral system will change fundamentally by 2025.

Market entry to the airline industry remains relatively easy, with low capital needs; but market exit by incumbents is remarkable for the little that has occurred. Whether protected from destruction by power inside a sealed-off domestic market, by bankruptcy laws allowing costs to be artificially discarded, by regulatory protection internationally or by direct subsidy, the fact remains: market exit by legacy incumbents has been much

potential inside “our” boundaries and the fact that “our” travellers spend money with you. We will, so the principle is applied, give you a limited licence to exploit a little of “our” market internationally – provided you have something to offer in return. Meanwhile we will of course prevent you from operating within our domestic market. In other words, the rich and powerful call the shots – that’s mostly how international law works. It has been called mercantilism, an elaborate description for something that amounts to a crude tit-for-tat trade. It’s only through a (very slowly) emerging rationalisation of the economic impact of aviation and of passenger convenience that even sixth freedom airlines have been granted market access – despite their lack of that trading currency. More to the point, they were “granted”that right only because it became too difficult to prevent them from exercising it. That is disruption. When implemented, this process is called liberalisation. Sometimes it is consensual like open skies agreements. These are fragile shoots and still essentially bilateral, remaining limited by the restrictive principles of ownership and control outlined above.

The airline industry – how regulation has strangled management innovation

Airline liberalisation has been driven by a handful of enlightened governments which recognise the benefits of promoting liberalisation in the realm of civil aviation.

Despite decades of inertia, new forces are at work, operationally and commercially that are coming together to disrupt the airline industry. From a range of sources, momentum has been building that signals the potential for a remarkable evolution in international ownership restrictions. The starting point is with the underlying currency of the bilateral trading system: travellers. That is, ownership of market

There can be nothing more certain than that the century old airline industry is ripe for disruption. And that it will happen, perhaps catastrophically and perhaps in the next downturn. That it has not occurred more comprehensively already is due to a range of interlocking factors: it is nationalistic (and iconic); it is heavily regulated – from safety to commercial operations to consumer interests; it is entrenched in multiple supply chains, visible and virtual; it attracts high levels of capital investment, with major vested interests keen to retain the status quo; and, above all, it is largely lacking in the agility to think (or move) outside the box. The latter assertion is perhaps a little unfair. There are many extremely imaginative minds in the airline business (as well as many which are not), but the ability actually to move beyond certain limits is heavily constrained by a myriad of regulation and nationalistic inertia. No other industry of its size and scope is constrained by the inability to consolidate, or is excluded from operating within foreign countries. These restrictions impact more widely than their direct effects; they tend to strangle innovation. It is likely the sheer inertial impact of regulation that delayed the introduction of low cost carriers for so long. Restrictions on market entry internationally

and the impact of market dominance in many domestic markets generate complacency and inaction; it is only the heat of competition that spurs innovation. How obvious is it in retrospect that flying an aircraft for more than eight hours a day could dramatically lower costs? This in an industry that is burdened by capital costs; yet increasing that utilisation by 50% reduces by one third the number of aircraft an airline needs to buy. And then, instead of the LCC exploiting its cost margin to the full, it applies a strategy that stimulates further growth; there are many features of the low cost model that are inconsistent with the strategies often-complacent or union-confined incumbents. Prior to the spread of LCCs, the often heard logic was that improving yields was a much more effective way of generating profits than reducing costs; all it needed was more market “discipline”. That is the sort of complacency bred by regulation and artificial barriers to entry. Certainly it is the margin that counts; but a common goal today is to strive to have the lowest, or near lowest, cost in the particular market.

Disruption in the airline industry. It is coming, faster and bigger than you think?

It is notable that airline liberalisation has scarcely been driven by overt consumer pressure. Instead it has been a handful of influential and enlightened governments who, recognising the flow-on economic benefits, have promoted aviation liberalisation in the wider national (and global) interest. In fact, with some exceptions, airline consumers have in general received a good deal over the past 40 years, in terms of low fares and good product, a result of the combination of regulatory change and of airlines prepared to exploit it effectively. LCCs and the Gulf airlines have played a major part in that.

The consumer is becoming a major disrupter

That said, the broader consumer movement, strongly supported by airports and by technology and sharing economy innovations, is becoming an increasingly powerful disruptive force. Add to that the growing power of third parties who are able to aggregate travel, “personalising” it and, as we shall see later, the consumer will rule the world.

Do airline managements get retail yet? They often know the words, but do they feel it?

This is not an issue confined to the airline or travel industry. Traditional retail generally is in crisis. The cause is not simply online competition, although that has accelerated the swift changes; it is mostly that managers just lost sight of what their existing and potential customers wanted to buy and how. For a generation of managers who have grown up focused on “push” not “pull”, the system – and their thinking – is often out of tune with the increasingly influential role of (i) personal recommendations; and (ii) mobile transparency.


Tourism: Museums

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Madame Tussauds: Coming in 2017, likely to diversify Delhi’s tourism landscape Expected to be thrown open to public in 2017, Delhi’s very own Madame Tussauds museum is tipped to be the most unique tourism product. Anshul Jain, General Manager, Merlin Entertainments India stresses that with the offerings – which include statues of several Indian and international achievers – the museum would draw tourists from all walks of life. By shashank shekhar

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ive us some details on how the museum is going to pan out. What are some specifics? What all will this museum cover? Will it have all the offerings that the London museum has or will you be starting off with a selective few statutes and take it forward from there on?

Madame Tussauds Delhi will be an attraction that truly encapsulates the vibrancy and colour of India, featuring those who have shaped the popular cultural landscape of the nation, and the world as a whole. Madame Tussauds Delhi will be featuring icons from sport, music and notables that have not only shaped the popular and historical landscape of India, but the world as a whole. To name a few attractions in Delhi, visitors will be able to give a speech with Prime Minster Narendra Modi; take a selfie with Kim Kardashian and test their bowling skills and technique with

Given that the museum has been a major draw for tourists in London, how do you envisage it gaining traction among tourists here in the capital? What are your expectations on the footfalls side? Madame Tussauds Delhi will be our 22nd attraction globally, and when we create a new attraction we work very hard to create a new experience offering – to raise the bar with not only the quality of our Figures, but also environments and technology used to bring our experiences to life. Guests who have been to our attraction in London will experience a very different attraction when they visit Hollywood or Shanghai. The same goes for Delhi – this is a unique Madame Tussauds experience that you will get nowhere else in the world.

Museums are an important element in strengthening the larger tourism product of a destination. Many

The museum is looking at various channels and ease of ticket booking options for online visitors. The idea of the museum is to bring visitors upclose with their favourite celebrities. cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Why India and why now? What brings the concept to India?

Ever since we launched our first Bollywood Figure – Amitabh Bachchan in 2000 – we have seen the appetite grow for a dedicated Madame Tussauds experience in India. It has been a long time coming ; however we are delighted to be finally opening in Delhi in 2017.

Ever since we launched our first Bollywood Figure – Amitabh Bachchan in 2000 – we have seen the appetite grow for a dedicated Madame Tussauds experience in India. It has been a long time coming, however we are delighted to be finally opening in Delhi in 2017. At Madame Tussauds we respect and take into consideration the preferences of the local market. The attraction is themed around various elements from the respective country.

European countries have created an envious pull for themselves by showcasing their history and heritage. India, despite being a repository of art, history and heritage, has performed much below its actual capability. Being a part of the industry, what do you think are the reasons for the dismal show of the museum segment here in India, and how can this

Anshul Jain General Manager, Merlin Entertainments India

shortcoming be tackled?

At Madame Tussauds we respect and take into consideration the preferences of the local market. The attraction is themed around various elements from the respective country. At Madame Tussauds Delhi you will see a lot of Indian Influence in thematic as well as figures. We will be offering a good mix of Indian favourites and international stars. The whole idea is to bring visitors up-close and personal with their favourite stars.

Although it is still some time before the museum is thrown open to visitors, and some of the intricacies may yet be unfolding, but how are you going to create visibility around this unique product? What are some of the likely distribution channels that you would

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take to for ensuring that its visibility and reach is maximized? We are working on a good mix to create brand visibility across various touch points.

What is the target audience? What is the marketing strategy? Take us through the strategy side of it? Will you be looking at tying up with online platforms and hotels to make this museum a part of the larger Delhi itinerary? We have something to offer for all the age groups. Madame Tussauds will be an entertainment option for families, college goers, young adults and couples. Yes, we are looking at various channels and ease of ticket booking options for online visitors. We are positive that this will also drive tourism in Delhi; we are taking steps in that direction as well.

snippets Kerala to market Christian heritage to attract international footfalls

I Madame Tussauds: A look at its global footprints The famed wax museum is based in London with branches spanning across 4 continents. We bring you a list of the destinations that are home to this unique tourism product. In Europe: Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Blackpool, Istanbul, London, Wien

Orlando, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York

Shanghai, Tokyo, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Wuhan

In America: Hollywood, Nashville,

In Asia: Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi,

In Australia: Sydney

n a bid to attract more international tourists, pilgrims and research scholars to its shore, Kerala Tourism is set to utilize the rich Christian heritage of the state. The state tourism plans to develop digital content on Christianity in the state. To take this forward, the state tourism has mooted five short movies and a microsite with over 200 photos and 225 web pages.   The movies would focus on different aspects of Christianity in the state – which includes mural paintings, pilgrim centres, cuisines, architecture and literature, among others. These short movies would be marketed through Youtube and state tourism website. It is important to note that Christianity has been a part Kerala’s social fabric with St. Thomas having come to India as early as AD 52. This move augurs well, specially at a time when the state has been in midst of expanding its tourism bouquet. The project is likely to cost the exchequer a sum of around 49 lakhs and expected to be wrapped up by the end of March next year.


Tourism: e nte rtainme nt parks

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Esselworld: Inadequate infrastructure and high land cost hamper growth, says CEO

Amusement parks are intrinsic to the larger tourism experience of a destination. Europa Park and Disneyland are examples of how critical these can be in attracting tourism and footfalls. While India has some noteworthy amusement parks, the desired growth of this sector has been curtailed owing to exorbitant land price and inadequate infrastructure, says Shirish Deshpande, CEO, Esselworld-Water Kingdom. By shashank shekhar

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ake us through the product offerings of the EsselWorld. What is the experience that awaits a consumer?

With a rich legacy of 27 glorious years of safe riding, EsselWorld and Water Kingdom are together one of the largest amusement parks in India – which is part of the Essel Group, a USD 6 billion conglomerate and owned by Pan India Paryatan. Spread over 42 acres of sprawling lush green land, EsselWorld is a complete leisure destination, offering as many as 59 rides and attractions. Some of the special attractions at EsselWorld are Aqua Dive, Enterprise, INS Prabal The Killer (Indian Navy war ship), Arctic Circle (Ice-skating rink). Not to forget our new rides in Parks. As a token of gratitude and a promise to offer the best in Indian thrill and adventure in amusement parks, EsselWorld added a dash of new rides in recent years, like the Shot ‘N’ Drop (India’s tallest tower ride), Top Spin (India’s craziest ride), Monsters in the Mist (International dark ride), Copper Chopper and Aero Swinger. With these rides, the park has yet again proved its commitment towards offering nothing but the best in international amusement park offerings. Water Kingdom offers over 33 attractions spread across 22 acres of clean fun with 90 lakh liters of water. Some of its prime attractions are the world’s largest Wave Pool which is spread across 100 meters with cool blue water and lush gardens, India’s largest aqua play pool – Lagoon, What-A-Coaster, Drifting River, Mamma Miya among others. Our latest offering is DownTown EsselWorld, an indoor family entertainment centre, which we had launched in May 2015 at Pune’s Seasons Mall. It is built over an area of 16,000 sqft, catering to all age groups and has three major attractions such as Snow Town, Cricket Town and Laser Warrior. We also plan to further scale up our Downtown EsselWorld format by end of 2017. Recently we have also launched a new party venue called ‘Shaken & Stirred’ exclusively catering to corporate employees. Located inside our park premises, the highclass party venue boasts about its superior ambience and exquisite cuisine service that will have patrons coming back for more. We are very bullish that ‘Shaken & Stirred’ will very soon become one of the most favoured destinations for corporate parties and em-

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Amusement park has huge attraction for tourism. Theme parks and attractions contribute greatly to sustainability of destinations around its vicinity. Other factors includes investments in infrastructure, job creation and community support. The sector is making considerable investments in technology as well to develop products and themes that notably enhance customer experience and participation.

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Shirish Deshpande CEO, EsselWorld-Water Kingdom

ployee engagement programmes.

What is your target audience? What is the inflow like? On a usual day, what are the footfalls that you register? The twin park caters to all age groups. We have rides classified into family rides, children rides and adult rides. This is the season for school picnics. You will see lot of student groups in both the parks till December end. Lot of corporate groups too visits in this season. During the last financial year, the twin parks witnessed a footfall of 11 lakh visitors.

Do your consumers come primarily from the city or you get a fair share from the region too? Take us through that bit. We have people coming mainly from Mumbai and nearby places. But a lot of guests flow in from Gujarat cities. We have many school picnics coming in from Ahmedabad and Surat.

Adventure parks, water parks and theme parks have been some of the most important tourism offerings in the West. Disneyland for instance in the USA is one of the biggest singular

student segment. Travel agents offer special discounted offers for students, inclusive of travel and food. We have also tied up with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation – which now endorses the twin park on its site and patrons can directly book the tickets online to visit the park.

We, as a nation, have handful of these products – which could play an enormous role in extending the duration of stay of visitors and add to the overall tourism spending, creating additional profits for the tourism and hospitality industry. Unfortunately, India is bereft of many such experiences. What seems to be the bottleneck and how can this lacuna be addressed? The amusement park sector in India is still an emerging business; however, this industry is still not growing as expected due to entry barriers such as cost of land parcel, inadequate infra structure and ticket price which does not match the investment in to hardware. Currently valued at USD 400 million, the industry has grown at 17.5% CAGR over the past few years. It is a hugely capital intensive business with land being one of the key constituents.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are becoming huge areas of interest. While it is still evolving in India, global players are already reaping its benefits in engaging customers. draw for travellers. In that respect, what importance or weightage does the EsselWorld wield in augmenting the overall tourism profile of the city?

Amusement park has huge attraction for tourism. Theme parks and attractions contribute greatly to sustainability of destinations around its vicinity. Other factors that includes are investments in infrastructure, job creation and community support. The sector is making considerable investments in technology as well to develop products and themes that notably enhance customer experience and participation. We have multiple attractions at the park, including events and offers for the people coming to visit Mumbai. Best performing traveler segment would be the

With the advent of state-of-the-art technology, the sector has undergone a huge transition with more and more players investing in technology driven games and rides to enhance customer experience. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are becoming huge areas of interest. While it is still evolving in India, our counterparts in other parts of the world have already started to reap in the benefits of AR and VR in terms of customer engagement. But the industry promises a huge potential in future. With big boosts to domestic tourism and rising levels of disposable income, nowadays people are keen to bond with family and friends over a memorable experience.

Adding teeth to Goa’s tourism offerings, inaugural edition of Serendipity Arts Festival rolls off

dding more teeth to Goa’s already diverse tourism offerings, and more lustre to the cultural and art portfolio of the state, Serendipity Arts Festival rolled off a few days ago. Aimed at promoting creativity in arts and culture, the inaugural edition of the Festival – touted as nation’s first premier, curated, interdisciplinary arts festival – was launched in Goa. A Munjal initiative, The Festival seeks to encourage the evolving arts community, promote a culture of patronage and create value for the arts, thus ensuring India’s place in the global cultural dialogue. The programming will be dispersed across a

mix of indoor and outdoor locations along Panaji’s waterfront. Audiences will get to engage with the arts in beautiful, carefully designed and often unconventional settings. To ease the movement of expected tourists, most venues will be within walking distance of each other and the Festival will provide transit and shuttle options. The event is expected to attract artists, performers, writers, journalists, academics, collectors, enthusiasts and others engaged with the arts community, both within and outside the country in the state of Goa for the cause of art. Speaking at the announcement press confer-

ence, Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Corporate Service Pvt. Limited, said, “The Serendipity Arts Festival at Goa is an interdisciplinary curated arts festival, designed to challenge boundaries and redefine the formats of presentation and engagement. It is a unique social responsibility project, which will promote education, spread awareness, empower artists, and reassert value in the arts.

The festival will also promote arts education and revive interdisciplinary arts through collaborations between organisations, artists and audiences.”


Tourism: coffe e

18

Karnataka: Lack of single window clearance key rider to boosting numbers D.M. Purnesh, Founder and MD, Classic Group notes that with ample coffee production and the experience quotient involved therein, tourists are increasingly taking to homestays in the region, helping sustain local economy, apart from popularizing local cuisines that have yet been shrouded in obscurity. But the lack of a single window clearance system in the homestay segment is deterring the growth of a niche segment which may well turn out to be a major peg of tourism offerings for the southern state in the years to come. By shashank shekhar

C

offee is a quintessential south Indian produce. An important item for export and revenue generation for southern states, Coffee has, over the years, become synonymous to an authentic south Indian experience. However, going beyond tasting a perfect cuppa, tourists are increasingly looking at experiencing the process of coffee plantation, giving wings to a niche segment: coffee tourism. Karnataka, being an important coffee producing region, is steadily garnering coffee enthusiasts who prefer staying with local planters at their homes, in turn, boosting homestay segment in the region. “I have been the fourth generation of coffee planter. We have homestays in Mullayanagiri and Sakleshpur. The last ten years has been absolutely crazy. People visit from nearby regions to experience the beau-

high on experience and relaxation quotient.” Serene backdrop and meandering foothills of the Western Ghats is also attracting bikers and campers to these plantations which offer numerous opportunities for exploring their interests.

The concept of homestays came to fore in the past decade

“The concept of homestays has come into being in the state in the last decade or so. It all began with Coorg, and percolated into Chikmagalur,” recalled the seasoned coffee planter. “The idea of watching a coffee planter going about his daily chores and being a part of it fascinates a traveller. Tourists get to stay in their houses and sample local authentic cuisines that have been part of the local culinary tradition for several generations,” he added, indicating that apart from the experience of witnessing the process, the

Thanks to growing interest in Coffee tourism, local cuisines are also gaining popularity. Chikmagalur, Coorg and nearby regions have witnessed maximum footfalls. ty of this place,” explained D.M. Purnesh. This changed scenario has also expanded the tourism bouquet of the state, which primarily relied on pilgrimage and heritage tourism to court visitors to its shore. The idea of tourism itself is under a profound change. “Things are changing now,” concurred D.M. Purnesh. “People would previously go to Sringeri and Dharmasthala and much of the state’s tourism offerings was oriented towards religious tourism,” he said. Adding that tourists now visit these plantations to experience nature, birds and vegetation, he shared “we had an ornithologist visit one of our resort, and we were surprised to find over 100 different varieties of birds in one single plantation. A lot of people now seek a vacation which is

It has put a massive dent on the prospect of coffee tourism. It is a big hassle for small farmers who wish to use their humble homes to entertain visitors. They do not have the bandwidth to acquire so many permissions and licenses to operate smalltime homestays. Processes need to be simplified for planters to take advantage of these opportunities that lie untapped.

unfolding trend was also boosting culinary offerings of the state and taking it to a much larger audience than ever before. There are reasons galore for the growing trend. The foremost is the challenge of sustaining livelihood for small coffee planters who find it challenging to manage their expenses with only engaging in coffee production. It is also important to understand that a vast majority of coffee planters are small-time farmers who do not produce significant amounts of coffee to make it a financially viable proposition for them. “Every other house in the region has become a homestay. It adds to the income of local planters and sustains their livelihood. Tourism simply adds to business and

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Purnesh AaronD.M. wodin-schwartz Founderpublic and MD, Classic Group director policy, brand usa

sustains families,” elaborates D.M. Purnesh. Much of the traffic emanates from within the region. Bengaluru, Mangalore and other nearby regions have fuelled much of the footfalls. Some of it can also be attributed to improved facilities with hotels like Taj Vivanta and Tamara and others attracting tourists. However, footfalls and awareness are not commensurate to what the region has on offer. “There is simply not enough publicity. I suppose this will start slowly. There are a few homestays in Coorg, now, that cater exclusively to foreigners. Perhaps, they are more open to the available services and are less demanding – which suits local planters who cannot provide top notch service,” details D.M. Purnesh.

The way forward

If looked at with intent, the segment offers untold potential for the tourism landscape of the state. The rosy prognosis has several riders, however. The absence of a single window clearance system for homestays has been the biggest hurdle in pushing the coffee tourism segment in the state. D.M. Purnesh notes that for opening a homestay one needs

10-12 clearances from various government agencies, related to power, environment and others. While the state government has put in place a single window clearance system, it does not cover the homestay segment. “It has put a massive dent on the prospect of coffee tourism. It is a big hassle for small farmers who wish to use their humble homes to entertain visitors. They do not have the bandwidth to acquire so many permissions and licenses to operate small-time homestays,” he reasons. “Processes need to be simplified for planters to take advantage of these opportunities that lie untapped,” he adds. The promotion and outreach by the state tourism board, too, has never really focussed on this niche segment, he alleges. “They primarily talk about heritage and pilgrim tourism. While some work has been done, but we are nowhere near states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala – which are attracting the world,” he said. He bats for a “similar proactive approach” to attract tourists. “There is simply no talk of the experiences that visitors can sample while their visit at these coffee plantation sites,” rues D.M. Purnesh.

Shashi Tharoor calls for effective waste management to boost tourism and hospitality

hashi Tharoor drew parallels between India and Sri Lanka, noting how by the virtue of being a cleaner destination, once ravaged by a two-decade long civil war, the Island nation was notching up serious footfalls, which could pose a challenge to Indian tourism industry. Speaking at the face-to-face programme, Kerala@60, organized by Kesari Memorial Journalists’ Trust, a leading English daily was quoted him saying “though Sri Lanka has many beautiful tourist spots, the country was least preferred by tourists during the time of its civil war. But now, tourism is one of

its main sources of revenue and it could be a challenge to our tourism dreams. Hence primary priority should be given to effective waste management and cleanliness.” He argued that tourism and hospitality were crucial pieces in the developmental plans of the state, “but its potential will have no use unless we keep our cities clean. Unhygienic tourist spots discourage tourists from visiting the ‘God’s Own Country’,” he said. Batting for greater foreign investments into the state, he explained that with the Gulf economy not going be as stable as it

was back in the 90s, “depending on the ups and downs of Middle East is not safe anymore.” “Attracting foreign investors to Kerala and thereby increasing employment is one of the best ways to develop Kerala, but for that also we need to change our political attitudes.” He said. “Though many want to invest here, hartals and strikes force them to approach our neighbouring states that are more industrial-friendly. Kerala must change its ‘say no’ attitude, otherwise the industrial sector will not grow,” added Trivandrum MP.


Tourism: Shopping

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DLF Mall of India: Organised retail strengthens Delhi/NCR’s tourism product Boasting of being the largest mall in the country with an average monthly footfall of 15 lakh people, DLF Mall of India is quite understandably staking claim of being a one stop retail destination for international and domestic visitors and Delhi NCR shoppers alike. We meet with Pusha Bector, Executive Vice President and Head, DLF Premium Malls to better understand the link between organized retail and the tourism product therein, and why MoI has the right mix to be the face of Indian retail for the city.

Our plan now involves requesting tourism bodies to promote and push the malls in Delhi and specifically the MoI so as to showcase the new India. Ultimately even the government’s objective is to showcase India in its best face and MoI is clearly is the best that modern retail can put up. On the other hand, as a private body we are talking to all the tour operators to showcase the way Indian retail has grown for tourists. Pusha Bector Aaron wodin-schwartz Executive director Vice President Head,brand DLF Premium Malls publicand policy, usa

By Priyaanka Berry

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LF is well versed with the retail vibe of the city with 5 malls in Delhi NCR. From a consumer stand point, their malls combined attract 5 million customers, getting them over 60% of the market share. The most recent addition, the MoI which opened this past April is however uniquely positioned as not merely a city mall but a ‘destination mall’. Bector states that MoI is the product that can rightly be synonymous with shopping in the capital. While typically, in the South Delhi malls people spend anywhere between 1.5-2 hrs, at MoI patrons are spending in

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the vicinity of 4 hours each visit. Another distinguishing factor is the South Delhi namely, DLF Saket and DLF Promenade, mainly cater to core South Delhi consumers, while Mall of India attracts customers from even Agra and Meerut. About 10-12% of our consumers are coming in from a drive time of about 4-5 hours. Bector elaborates, “the positioning of the Mall of India is very different from the South Delhi malls. Those are iconic fashion destinations and conceptually as business district and shopping districts are well established. But the surprise has been that MoI has drawn in catchment from a very wide mix of customers as the product mix on offer is

The MoI tourism product is based on an all-day shopping experience with the best of international brands in high street and luxury and ethnic Indian brands as well   Retail Space

2 million sq. ft./ 20 lakh sq. ft.

  Investment

` 1800 crore

  Highlights

◗ 330+ brands & 82+ Kiosks Brands ◗ Approximately 40% space is dedicated to F&B, Casual Dining and Indoor Entertainment, Total 75 Food & Beverages Options Including 51 Cafes and Casual Dining Restaurants and 24 F&B Kiosks. ◗ Redefining the concept of Indoor Entertainment: with unique and large scale gaming concepts, like Smaaash, Ski India (indoor snow gaming park) & Funcity ◗ 7 star PVR Cinemas screens designed by the known Mesbur+Smithwith a seating space for 2000 audience. ◗ The largest food court of the country with seating capacity of 1000 people designed by Varney designs ◗ The unique design element of the mall would be the Racetrack Atrium to give an excellent visibility for all store fronts coupled with more than 80 escalators, one express escalator, and revolutionary travellators for the comfort and convenience of Shoppers / Customers.

very robust. The dwell time here is longer and more leisure oriented with 40% of the space dedicated to food and entertainment.” Being an attraction for satellite cities and the ease with which shoppers are spending long hours has a lot to do with the scale of this project. Stretching over an impressive 2 million square feet, the mall is divided into 6 clear zones for the ease of shoppers and also to better display the product mix of the 330 brands on display. In terms of patrons, the mall is frequented by both Noida and Delhi residents. Also, “the domestic and international tourist arrivals are higher here, making up about 4-5% of the customer market. This a part of the Golden Triangle route. People must drive past MoI to reach the Yamuna Expressway and that is also how we are promoting it. They use this as a stopover while coming in from Agra or going to Agra. It is the international shopping experience that is attracting people. So, MoI becomes a one stop destination for their international and ethnic shopping and to even experience the local cuisine”. While the best international cities are equally recognized as fantastic shopping destinations, Delhi still has a long way to go in establishing itself in the international domain, especially when it comes to the organized retail industry. Bector explains that one primary reason for this “is that there has been no coordinated effort between public and private enterprises. If you look at DLF. We have 5 malls and we are the category leaders in all these properties. If we cluster our power together and coordinate it with a government led international campaign, and really promote it internationally then we can also be doing what a Dubai Mall is doing. We have not ventured in that direction. With MoI we want to start this. Because it is only now, with this product that we have the scale to justify that kind of a push, and hence the tourism push”. “Our plan now involves requesting tourism bodies to promote and push the malls in Delhi and specifically the MoI so as to showcase the new India. Ultimately even the government’s objective is to showcase India in its best face and MoI is clearly is the best that modern retail can put up. We are the face of Indian retail and hence we are looking to position ourselves accordingly. On the other hand, as a private body we are talking to all the tour operators to showcase the way Indian retail has grown for tourists. Instead of them trudging around Janpath or Sarojini Nagar as is typically done, they can find everything they want to here in a safe and secure environment. This is also about changing the way tourists perceive India”. But has Delhi truly arrived at being recognized as a shopping destination in the global understanding? Bector strongly believes that it very much has. “The Indian retail market has come of age and especially in getting the right quality of retail. When you go internationally to shop, you are looking at quality. And if we are getting the same quality here, then why should we not showcase it? If you look at Dubai Mall or Singapore, you will be surprised to know that at

snippets Southern California’s best attractions now easier to access with a CityPASS

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hile the Orange County gets a lot of tourists seeking a sunny experience, it is also famed for its family-friendly theme parks, all located within an easy drive of one another. With the recently announced and easy-to-use CityPASS, now visitors will get a combination of the very best attractions at a great savings. 2017 CityPASS e-tickets and cards for use or after January 1, 2017, are now available for purchase at the website.   Visitor who arrive at the theme parks, with CityPASS ticket will not need to wait in ticket lines. They just need to show the e-ticket or admission card at the turnstiles, along with a valid ID card. The CityPASS is also an attempt to simplify the travel experience and eliminate the need for tourists to immerse themselves in brochures and city guides. CityPASS makes sure that tourists stick to the best and do not go wrong.   Southern California CityPASS is valid for 14 consecutive days, including the first day of use giving everyone plenty of time to truly experience the region and sample its offerings. There is a lot to see and experience in Orange County, therefore tourists can visit the theme parks in any order as they wish during that 14-day validity period, unless the CityPASS voucher or e-ticket is purchased from another website. CityPASS provides a combination of best Southern California theme parks at a $142 savings or more per person. So, with all the money and time saving, visitors can spend more on shopping, taste local cuisine and get out on the town.

least 90% of the brands seen are all here as well, with a significant presence. At MoI we have large stores. H&M has done its largest store, as large as the store on Fifth Avenue in New York. That time is over wherein we thought we should get in the secondary formats. Today the Indian retail industry has realized the propensity of the Indian customers spending and the consumption patterns here, and they are investing. The brands are investing. I feel the missing link is our pitch to the government, especially the face of modern retail is somewhat lacking at this point”.


20

outbound : Switze rland

Switzerland: Aims at giving a new spin to the destination, woos adventure outbound Switzerland is vehemently pushing for garnering a chunk of the Indian outbound by showcasing its offerings in the adventure segment – which has remained largely unknown in the domestic market. In a first, Switzerland tourism board has signed up a brand ambassador, joining the bandwagon of appointing cine stars to create more visibility and destination appeal in the domestic market. In an interview with TF, Claudio Zemp, Director – India, Switzerland Tourism talks about Switzerland’s tourism products, reasons for appointing a brand ambassador and expectations from the Indian market. Excerpts: By shashank shekhar

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We have introduced self-drive holiday last year, The Grand Tour of Switzerland – the whole project was managed by Switzerland tourism to put the country on the world map as a self-drive destination. Very few would have thought of it. This winter we are putting together specific packages for nonskiers from India, who want to go for holiday and want to go for skiing, packages which takes all the hassles away – from skies to boots, to mountain passes, all in one.

t is a growing trend that tourism boards are signing up Bollywood celebrities to promote their destinations. Is it that tourism boards have finally understood the importance of Bollywood and cricket in grabbing the eyeballs here in India?

I would not call it finally. For Switzerland, Bollywood has been clear for us from the start. I mean, I think we have been put on the map in India, thanks to Bollywood and Yash Chopra who have done one of the biggest marketing campaigns for us, which we could hope for. I think it is a bit alien for Switzerland to have a brand ambassador. So, it is not something which we do naturally, but the message that we wanted to convey – which is to give out a new spin to Switzerland; what one can do in Switzerland; what is the idea of choice to work with Ranveer. What happens is that everybody knows that Switzerland is a beautiful country; it is a romantic country, it is a dream destination – and we do not want to change any of this, because this is all true. But we want to also show that young people who want to have an active and fun-filled holiday, who want to be active with their friends can also do that in Switzerland.

So, the idea is to tap the young Indian traveller?

I always say ‘young’ because it is young at heart. It is just the mindset of the people who want to experience those things.

Courtesy Bollywood, Switzerland

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Zemp AaronClaudio wodin-schwartz Director – India, Tourism director publicSwitzerland policy, brand usa

became a household name and the recall factor has been so immense. Switzerland also majorly benefitted from cinema tourism. But in the past decade, several countries have been catching up in the realm of cinema tourism by doling out incentives and coming up with attractive programs. Is that a challenge and if it is then how are

you negating it?

It is reality, you know. If you are at the top of the pyramid, there will always be new people coming in the market; there will be new contenders. For us, I think, we have very stable growth figures out of India; we are very happy with the growth figures coming out of India, but I am relatively fine with the fact that people also want to go to different

Indian travellers are too resilient to be impacted by political developments in Europe Claudio Zemp displayed utmost faith in the tenacity of the Indian outbound, noting that despite political developments, including Brexit and growing numbers of right leaning governments at helm in several nations, the outbound was going to continue unabated. He also argued that irrespective of the platform, educating the travel trade about Switzerland’s attractions and tourism offerings was at the top of the tourism board’s agenda.

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n terms of within the Indian market, which are your key source markets? Are you primarily getting your numbers from traditional tier-1 cities, or have you seen an uptick from some of the tier-2 cities as well? Say Ahmedabad, it has become such a market for Dubai? Have you been able to tap some of these markets? Your comments.

Well, Ahmedabad has always been a key source market for us. The western part of India for us is really the key. Gujarat, Mumbai and Delhi of course, but we do see, while the figures are low at the moment, the biggest growth of people is coming from the south of India at the moment. Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru are the areas where we see most visas applied for Switzerland.

Allow me to ask you a question that is not specific to India but to Europe. Taking stock of the political scene unfolding in Europe at the moment, with BREXIT and a lot of countries tilting towards the right of the political spectrum, do you think all of this would have a cumulative impact on the inbound into Switzerland and into Europe? As a rule, we do not comment on the political situation anywhere.

But I can say that no it does not have any impact on travel out of India into Europe. I think that Indian travellers are one of the more resilient travellers. So, this is not something that we are really worried about at the moment.

You shared that almost 6,00,000 travellers from India visited Switzerland in 2015. Any benchmark, any specific figure that you have in mind and you would wish to attain? When do you expect to hit the seven-digit mark?

It is definitely doable for us to come out of India – a million. It is going to take us a few years. I mean, realistically, we are looking at a growth of 6-8% per year. These figures are only for the hotel overnights though. What has been a big growth market for the past few years is the apartments, and now with Airbnb, it gets bigger. But these figures are not counted in the numbers we have mentioned. So, we are pushing our head office to start counting these numbers too, because it is very important for us to know the real numbers and how many people are staying in these other accommodation services, I think we should be able to reach one million very quickly.

destinations. So, it is not really a problem that there are new destinations in the market. It is a big enough cake, so as long as our piece of the cake is not really shrinking we do not have a problem.

I think roping in a brand ambassador the part of the process where you are trying to reinvent the destination in the eyes of the Indian outbound. Is not it? We have been doing this really, may be started the last year, when as a tourist board we introduced new products and new angles for promotion, rather than just promoting what is there in the market; we ourselves started putting programmes together. We have introduced self-drive holiday last year, The Grand Tour of Switzerland – the whole project was managed by Switzerland tourism to put the country on the world map as a self-drive destination. Very few would have thought of it. This winter we are putting together specific packages for non-skiers from India, who want to go for holiday and want to go for skiing, packages which takes all the hassles away – from skies to boots, to sky instructors and mountain passes, all in one. You have half a day experience out there and it very easy to do. With Ranveer we are really pushing the aspect which has always been there. We are a super-active destination; there are numerous activities that you can engage in – from Bungee jumping, sky diving, you name it – but also a number of leisurely activities out in the nature. They, firstly, do not cost that much and are also nice to so, so this is the message we want to push forth, because we know that these aspects are not so wellknown in India. We have been trying that for the last couple of years; we have been doing a whole lot of activities.

How would you define the tourism product that is Switzerland to a discerning Indian traveller and to the industry?

Well, it sounds a bit corny, but it is really getting back to the nature. As soon as you reach Switzerland, you are on a holiday; you get off the plane and you are back to nature.

At the fear of being labelled repetitive, would you mind sharing some statistics on the year-on-year growth that you have seen from the Indian market? How has the India story unfolded for you? We count the overnight stay. We do not have the actual number of travellers, because of the Schengen Area we cannot count people in and out, so we have had just short of 6,00,000 overnights out of India last year, a plus 22 percent increase – which was an amazing year for us. It meant that India has become the 8th biggest overseas market for Switzerland. So, it is really important and for us it is a strategic growth market where we really have one of the best potential for growth in the future.


outbound : Ne w Ze aland

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New Zealand: Tourism top segment of export and jobs, Indians seek experience Steven Dixon, Regional Manager, South and South-East Asia, Tourism New Zealand left nothing in the realm of speculation when he emphatically asserted that tourism held crucial significance in the economic growth and job creation for the country. He noted that a growing number of Indians were keen on experiential holidaying, a segment where the island nation had plenty to offer. Excerpts of the interview: By TF Bureau

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hat are some key tourism offerings of New Zealand? What are some important pegs upon which travel, tourism and movement into the country rests? Examining the tourism landscape, what is the country’s USP?

New Zealand is famous for its diverse and spectacular landscapes, its range of adventure activities – from high adrenalin to the more relaxing, and gourmet cuisine made from the freshest produce.

How are you positioning New Zealand in the Indian market? What are some

self-drive holidays and adventure sports. This helps us showcase our offerings beyond the stunning landscapes. Indian arrivals to New Zealand have grown steadily since we increased our investment in the market three years ago, with total arrivals up by 12.2 per cent for the year ending September 2016, with 49,296 arrivals while we saw an increase in holiday arrivals of 23.8 per cent over the previous 12 months. The average length of stay across all Indian arrivals in New Zealand for the year ending September 2016 is 47 days while the average length of stay (holiday) is 13.3 days.

Tourism New Zealand has recently roped in a Bollywood actor to create more awareness about New Zealand,

Cricket matches played in New Zealand has also helped popularize it as a sports and a holiday destination for Indians to consider. India is one of the top 10 source markets for New Zealand and has shown steady growth in footfalls. important products or destinations upon which you wish to create a pull in the Indian outbound? Who is the target audience? Are you looking at FITs, Leisure travellers or others?

Indian travellers visiting New Zealand have started opting for off-beat travel experiences such as self-drive tours, hard and soft adventure activities and exploring Maori culture. Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington and Rotorua are some of the well-known destinations amongst Indian travellers. We have also seen an increase in interest to explore destinations like Northland and hidden gems like Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty. Tourism New Zealand’s key target segment in India is independent professionals, within the age group of 25-54. These include honeymooners, or couples who travel with other family members or friends. These independent professionals want to experience all the offerings first hand; scenic, cultural, adventure and leisure. Another key focus for us is the MICE segment, which continues to be a high contributor to the economy.

What has been your understanding of the Indian market? How has the market reacted to your foray? Have you witnessed an increment in numbers? What are your imminent expectations in terms of footfalls? The key trend that we are observing is that visitors are seeking experiences rather than just ‘sightseeing’. We receive a lot of queries regarding events, food and wine tours, Maori cultural experiences, walks,

Tourism New Zealand’s key target segment in India is independent professionals, within the age group of 25-54. These include honeymooners, or couples who travel with other family members or friends. These independent professionals want to experience all the offerings first hand; scenic, cultural, adventure and leisure. Another key focus for us is the MICE segment, which continues to be a high contributor to the economy.

which is coupled with famous cricketers. You seem to be focussing on two of the biggest passions in India – cricket and movies. It seems to be a very well-crafted strategy. Your comments.

New Zealand and India have always shared a long standing relationship in terms of Bollywood and cricket. Bollywood has one of the biggest film-making industries in the world with a cult fan-following in many countries. Films like Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (2000)

Dixon AaronSteven wodin-schwartz RM, Southdirector and South-East Asia, Tourism New Zealand public policy, brand usa

and I Hate Luv Storys (2010) have been shot in New Zealand only contributing towards Tourism New Zealand’s endeavour to increase awareness about the country’s beauty. With Bollywood actor, Sidharth Malhotra, as the ambassador of Tourism New Zealand for India, we have reached out to so many Indians as can be seen in the increasing tourist arrival numbers this year. Cricket matches played in New Zealand as well, have also helped popularize New Zealand as a sports/holiday destination for Indians to consider. The New Zealand cricketers Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum also have a very strong fan following in India which adds to the country’s popularity in the country.

How important is tourism as a sector for the overall growth of New Zealand?

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How big is it in terms of priority for the government, and how is it taking tourism forward?

Tourism Satellite Account’s annual data reflect the work the tourism sector and government are doing to boost the value tourism brings to New Zealand. Tourism is vitally important to the New Zealand economy and the phenomenal growth has seen tourism become New Zealand’s top export earner. International tourism has pumped NZ$14.5 billion into the economy and directly employed over 188,000 people and has generated around 6,600 new tourism jobs for the year ending March 2016. One in 13 New Zealanders are now directly employed in the tourism industry and this will increase as visitor numbers continue to grow.

We are working on training the agent community; the larger focus is currently on northern India NZ is working in tandem with the larger travel and trade industry to inculcate awareness about its plethora of product offerings – which includes aviation partners. Also, the current focus of the tourism board is augmenting numbers from north India

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n terms of numbers, what are some of the important source countries? Where does New Zealand gets its tourists from and where does India stand in the pecking order? What is South Asia’s share in overall numbers?

India is one of New Zealand’s top 10 international source markets and has shown steady growth over the past few years. For the year ending September 2016, total arrivals from India were up 12.2 per cent (49,296 arrivals), while holiday arrivals were up 23.8 per cent (25,168).

What would be your most important distribution channel? Is your foray going to rest on OTAs and their

penetration, or are you equally keen on roping in brick-and-mortar travel agents? How are you creating more awareness in the agent community?

The majority of our visitors still book via traditional travel agents so will continue to focus our efforts in this area, while also exploring opportunities with OTAs. Our major focus is to increase the training of travel agents to enable them to sell travel to New Zealand effectively during the shoulder seasons. This includes increasing our focus on the New Zealand Specialist Programme, in-market trade training and hosting Tourism New Zealand led events, such as Kiwi Link India that helps connect the New Zealand industry

with the Indian travel trade. We also work in co-operation to our aviation partnerships and will further continue our successful opinion leader programmes to drive awareness and preference for New Zealand, building on the achievements with tourism ambassador Sidharth Malhotra and successful collaborations with New Zealand cricketers, such as Stephen Fleming, to engage with our target groups in the Indian market. This year, particularly, we have maximized our focus on North India and have also partnered with travel agents across the country to increase our business and trade activities.


Outbound: g e rmany

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Germany: Affordability USP, barrier-free movement making tourism accessible to all Contrary to the popular belief of Germany being an expensive destination, it is one of the more affordable one in the list of European countries on the radar of travellers, asserted Romit Theopilus. He detailed how a younger generation of Germans were more adept in using English as a mode of communication, making it convenient for the outbound to sample the European nation. Also, commendably, Germany has developed world-class infrastructure that allows people with disabilities to move about seemlessly – which has made tourism more inclusive in nature, he shared. Excerpts of a free-wheeling interview: By shashank shekhar

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ow did the recently held roadshow go and how was the response from the industry?

We did a four-city roadshow and we received over 800 travel agents all across India. The cities we concentrated on were Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. We also had a small networking event in Delhi around the Christmas market; we created a Christmas market here in Delhi where we invited the travel trade to come and meet our partners. We have our eight partners from Germany – which included the cities of Cologne, Baden-Baden and Stuttgart. We had a cruise liner with us; we also had the states of Saxony and Southwest Germany. We had two airline partners with us – Air Berlin and Lufthansa. We also had a hotel chain called the Maritim Hotels, who have 34 hotels across Germany. So, these are the people who were here with us. It was a great event and we have a great turnout. We had great participation from, both, the travel trade and by the German consulates and embassies in each of the cities.

What were some of the more frequent queries from the travel trade side and which were some of the more discussed destinations and products? We had our best turnouts in Chennai and Kolkata with over 120 and 100 people, respectively, turning up at our roadshow, which in the past we have not had. Mumbai was extra-ordinary with over 250 tour operators coming in. Delhi was also pretty good. If we take the networking event and the show, then we again had some 220 tour operators in Delhi as well. Mostly they were quite interested to learn about Saxony, because it is a new place they keep on hearing about and they are quite intrigued with the combination of Berlin-Saxony, or Berlin-Dresden and Czech Republic as well. Cologne does well on its own as a destination because of its proximity to the neighbouring countries as well; Cologne plays a very important part – and traditionally, the Southwest of Germany has been more popular destinations, whether it be the Black Forest, Stuttgart or Baden-Baden. So, these are a few places where people are coming. The Maritim hotel had Prime Minister Modi as their guest and they are using that in all their marketing outreach in India, and they are saying that PM Modi stayed there, so you should look at Maritim when you come to Germany.

What are some of the key USP of Germany as a tourism product?

There is value for money. It has traditionally been one of the most affordable place in Europe. I mean, you take a city like Berlin, an average hotel room night is between 8095 Euros for a four-star hotel. You compare that with Zurich or Paris, you end up paying around 220-300 Euros for the same sort of hotel room. So, it works out quite well. We have also been playing up the fact that Germany

There is value for money. It has traditionally been one of the most affordable place in Europe. I mean, you take a city like Berlin, an average hotel room night is between 80-95 Euros for a four-star hotel. You compare than with Zurich or Paris, you end up paying around 220-300 Euros for the same sort of hotel room. So, it works out quite well. We have also been playing up the fact that Germany is a very affordable destination. Romit Theophilus Aaron wodin-schwartz Director public Sales &policy, marketing, director brandGNTO usa

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Germany has plans to clock 2 million overnights from India by 2030. Given that the y-o-y growth has been steady and the outlook positive, it is expected to reach that figure much sooner than envisaged. is a very affordable destination. You look at our Theme Park, Europa-Park is half the price of what you pay at Euro Disney. So, these are the few things that are putting Germany in the light. Add to that, English is widely spoken so travelling is not an issue. In smaller towns, I am sure it still is, but in the bigger cities, amongst the younger lot, English is not an issue. We have over 1600 Indian restaurants. So, Indian food is not an issue. These are a few things that are helping us as well.

It is difficult to pin-point one product or destination, because you have so much on the plate.

We have made a conscious effort to showcase Germany not as one or two destinations, or two cities, but to showcase Germany as an all-round destination. We do not concentrate on one or two cities. We, purposely, have targeted in such a manner that we concentrate on as much of Germany as possible. It is not only a question of Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin. We talk about Hamburg, Dresden, Nuremburg, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, so we try to talk about as much of Germany as possible. But traditionally, to answer your question, the Black Forest has been one of the most sold itineraries here in India.

What I really want to understand is that

it so happens that when you diversify your products too much, you tend to lose the essence. So, the danger of spreading yourself too thin is also there. How are you going about your outreach in terms of products and destinations here in India?

We are looking at targeting the whole of Germany, entirely. We are not looking at promoting one or two places, but travel agents, traditionally, have been focussed more on the South and Southwest. If you talk about Southwest as a state and Bavaria as a state, these are the places that travel agents have traditionally targeted Germany, with a little bit of west with Cologne in there. Now, what people are doing is they are coming up with unique itineraries which are packaged in such a manner that, like I have mentioned to you, Berlin-Dresden and Prague as one itinerary of central Europe and eastern Europe. They are also doing the traditional ones which was coming into Cologne, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, then to Black Forest and going into Switzerland. So, these are the few things that are already there. What we are doing is to also showcase a little bit more of the northern side as well. More of the central part as well. If you see, our Germany Travel Mart happens in smaller places, so we have been to Thuringia as a state. We have been to many other places that are smaller in nature, where we have a Germany Travel

Mart to showcase Germany as a product to Indian travel agents. Next year, we are having it in Nuremurg in May where we will be taking ten travel agents and seven journalists with us.

You have mentioned about travel agents and I believe you are talking about brick-and-mortar players. But what role does OTAs play in your outreach here in India?

Now, OTAs are playing a bigger role for us, because we are focusing a lot on social media and the online space in the way we market ourselves here in India. So, you would see us working with a lot of OTA players like TripAdvisor and Expedia.

These are the international ones. Any Indian players in the fray?

The Indian players with whom we have worked with in the past are MakeMyTrip, Yata, Cox&Kings, Ezeego1, Kuoni and SOTC. These are the main players we have worked with in the past, who have created numerous itineraries for Germany.

What are the footfalls you have been getting off late? Any detail that you would like to divulge?

We are going to close this year at 7,00,000. That is about 3-5% growth over the last year, and we expect the same this year as well.

It is a very steady climb for you, is not it?

We have been very lucky that it has been consistent and we hope it remains consistent for the coming few years. We have a goal for the year 2030 – which is 2 million overnights from India. That is what we are planning to do. We are predicting what is 14 years away, but we are hoping that this 300% growth can be achieved in a much faster time-period. Let us see how things pan out.

Europe is in midst of a major political transition of sorts. We have recently had the Brexit and a lot of right leaning governments have come to fore in the national politics. Many of them have been talking about imposing visa restrictions which could deter unhindered movement and consequently travel and tourism. Do you think all of it would impact the Indian outbound?

I cannot really say anything about other countries, but I can tell you this about Germany that we had a visa counsellor with us at our roadshow in Delhi, and he told the travel trade that Germany is going to do its best to ensure that everybody gets their visas in time and there are no such restrictions because of any of the current situation in the world at the moment, or Indian travellers heading to Germany. So, as far as we are concerned, we will not be seeing any difference in the ways visas are issued, or they are processed in the coming future. So, it is very positive for us.


Outbound: g e rmany

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Germany: Both Leisure and MICE are driving equal traffic from India, incentives an unfolding segment Better air-connectivity and affordable price-points are aiding Germany tap the lucrative incentive market from India. Also, previously dominated by the business segment of travellers, courtesy trade fairs, the overall footfalls, now, has an equally robust mix of leisure travellers too.

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oadshows at Delhi, Kolkata and other metro cities indicates that the prime focus of the outreach was and is likely to continue in the tier-1 segment, or you would also be looking at tier-2 and other smaller cities? How has been the response from tier-2 market?

What we do is we go it Mumbai and Delhi every year. Last year we were in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. We have actually done roadshows in Chandigarh and Kochi too. We have been often going to tier-2 and tier-3 cities; we go there on our own sales calls. If we do not do roadshows, we do our sales calls in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. In the next few weeks we would be doing a webinar training of agents of tier-2 and tier-3 cities, because of the specific reason that there is considerable traffic coming in from these places as well. Even though Delhi and Mumbai are primary hubs, but we do see a lot of places, within India, that act as major markets for us. I mean, you can talk about Punjab as a region; you talk about Gujarat as a region; you talk about Maharashtra as a region. So, we do concentrate on other cities, beyond the metros. Pune in Maharashtra is also quite important for us. We try and go everywhere.

Although you have explicitly stated that cuisines and language are not barriers to travelling in Germany. But, in many parts of India, it is still perceived to be. How are you negating that impression?

It is true. Language is perceived as a barrier and at times people are a little reserved to talk in English, because they are not sure that what they are saying is correct or not, but as time goes by and as people become more confident in English, tourists will see a lot more people in Germany also conversing with them in English. Now, more and more restaurants are having menus written in English with them. There is a lot more of English usage around German destinations, so that people can communicate with ease.

Talk to us about how the outbound movement is like? What the nature of this movement? Is it more leisure, or MICE driven? I also want to understand that impact of larger engagement between the two government.

For us, traditionally, Germany was always a business destination. Trade fairs reigned supreme. What we have managed to do over the years, we started this in 2007, we realised

that business travel was extensively a part of Germany’s DNA. At that point, we could say that we were having a ratio of 90:10, in terms of business and leisure travel. It was that big. We have now brought it closer to, we can say, 50:50. We do see a lot of leisure travel happening now, because self-drive in Germany is very popular. People realise that with the Indian driver’s license they can drive in Germany, so that has become very popular. For group travellers, who were probably visiting 10 countries in 12 days, are now wanting to do 2 countries in 10 days. They are also now evolved travellers. So, we see a lot more people looking at Germany quite differently. So, we do hope that this will continue in the future too. One country itineraries will come up. These are a few things we see are working in our favour.

So, it is primarily young group travellers and FITs?

Absolutely. Young group travellers, FITs. We get a lot of senior citizens because the infrastructure in Germany is excellent. A lot of people do realise that it is not hard for them to move around. We are also concentrating on barrier-free travel – which basically means that it does not matter

if you are on a wheelchair, Germany is accessible to all. One could have a hearing or visual impairment. There is something for everybody in Germany. What we are trying to do is to promote barrier-free travel in a big way. Coming back to the travel bit, we do notice that business travel does play a big role. Our trade fairs are quite important. The incentive market for us has grown which is quite promising. So, we do receive a lot of incentives all across India, who go to Germany because of the price points, flight connectivity and the advantage of infrastructure and state-of-theart MICE opportunities that they have.

Any specific regions you would wish to pin-point?

We have seen a lot of people move to the south, which is mainly Munich, Zugspitze – which is the highest peak in Germany – and Berlin. This is where most people are going for incentive trips. But, now, we do see that there is a little bit more movement happening towards southwest of Germany, in the Black Forest region. It is coming towards Cologne as well. So, there are different regions that people are trying to explore.

India is a unique market where traditional agents need equal attention as OTAs Despite the growing clout that OTAs now wield in driving traffic and business, traditional brick-and-mortar travel agents and tour operators continue to hold their fort, and were equally important in generating footfalls, said Romit. He also divulged that much of the country had forests, mountains and meadows which created plenty of tourism offerings for diverse set of travellers, seeking different experiences.

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lthough you have hammered the point that Germany is an affordable destination, but there are considerable luxury segment offerings too. What is happening in that segment? And what are some of the regions therein?

Baden-Baden really works well in the luxury segment; it is known as the spa town. We have got worldclass hotels across Germany. I mean you can find all the global names in the cities, especially in Berlin, for example. We have noticed people renting luxury cars; some people also rent farmhouses to spend, may be, a week or two.

We keep getting queries from people about renting a castle, whether is for groups, or FITs. One can rent a whole castle. So, we do see these kinds of opportunities in the luxury segment.

Although the growth has been commendable, but there must be a few bottlenecks that still need to be resolved?

Yes, I mean the perception of Germany being an expensive place because of trade fairs is something we are trying to change. Germany is expensive during trade fairs, because hotels are sold out – and hotels are the main expense of the stay. We are trying to explain

to people that Germany is quite affordable, it is just during the trade fairs, because demands are so high, prices are higher if one does not book in advance. Apart from that, we are trying to tell people that cuisines are not such a barrier. We are also telling people that Indian food in Germany is not a problem, but we do insist that when you go there, you try local cuisines because there is fabulous vegetarian food too. We are trying to tell people that Germany is a very welcoming country, and people should take this opportunity and look at what it has to offer. Just like India, every part of Germany is different. Starting from the

snippets Florida visitors will the option to explore Ievennhave2017,more of the Sunshine

State with a rail service that connects the cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Brightline

south to the north, not only local traditional costumes are different, but the cuisine is different too. Lastly, people think that Germany is an industrialised nation, but we like to tell them that 85% of the country is woods, meadows and forests. So, there is a lot of Germany that is there to be seen.

What about your distribution channels? Are you primarily looking at brick-and-mortar agents, or are paying equal attention to OTAs?

We are paying attention to both.

Traditionally, all our markets have now moved to online agents. We are giving equal importance to traditional travel agents and OTAs. The reason for that is that our business comes from both. Lastly, I would like to share that we have started our own Facebook page, especially for the Indian market. We hope we get more fans. We started in the last February and, by now, we already have 6,00,000 fans on it. We keep running exciting contests and we hope that we can continue to showcase Germany through this platform.

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operational by mid-2017, are packed with amenities like Wi-Fi, power outlets, food and beverage selection options, spacious luggage racks and bike storage. The coaches are pet-friendly

and wheelchair-accessible. Brightline cuts down the travel time between the cities and allows visitors more time to experience the vast vacation options the Sunshine State has to offer.


Outbound: Pe ru

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Peru: Heady mix of history, food and ecology makes tourism count for national growth Peru is a treasure trove of culture and history, with several World Heritage Sites in its midst – the likes of famed Machu Picchu – pristine ecology and diverse cuisines, making it a destination for tourists seeking varied experiences. Hoping to tap the more experimental and experience-seeking Indian outbound, Peru Commercial Office has trained its sight on a larger share of the lucrative outbound. Excerpts of the interview with Luis Cabllo, Commercial Counsellor of Peru in India.

Tourism in Peru is the second largest generator of cash in terms of value added products, the only other sector which higher figures being that of agriculture. Inbound tourism in Peru has risen constantly with the steady arrival of international tourists. In the period 2011 – 2015, the annual average growth rate recorded has been 7.4%, which has converted into an important agent of social and economic development. Cabllo AaronLuis wodin-schwartz Commercial Counsellor Peru in India director public policy,ofbrand usa

By TF Bureau

G priority?

ive us a sense of how important is tourism for Peru and its economy and where does it stand in list of national

Tourism in Peru is an extremely dynamic activity. Millions of jobs are created in Peru every year, because of tourism, which includes people from all walks of life, including those families which otherwise have very little earnings. According to the data released by Central Reserve Bank (Banco Central de Reserva), tourism sector contributes 3.9% towards the GDP, taking into account only receptive tourism. Nevertheless, if one were to take into account all other activities which are interconnected to the tourism sector, (transportation, provision of food and drinks, hotel options for tourists, cultural industry, recreation and sport industry, taxes and import rights, production and trade of handicrafts, Travel houses and Tourism agencies, and other activities), the multi-sectoral contribu-

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tion can be seen to be 7%. Inbound tourism in Peru has risen constantly with the steady arrival of international tourists. In the period 2011 – 2015, the annual average growth rate recorded has been 7.4%, which has converted into an important agent of social and economic development. Tourism in Peru is the second largest generator of cash in terms of value added products, the only other sector which higher figures being that of agriculture.

Peru has a vast repertoire of tourism offerings but archaeological and cultural tourism seem to be the most important pegs of the nation’s tourism offerings. Could you take us through some key tourism products that has found most traction among tourists?

First of all, I am proud to announce that the World Travel Awards (WTA) have recently selected Peru as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination in 2016. This is the fifth consecutive year that our country has been awarded this recognition. According to this organization, Peru is the best country in the world for

gastronomy each and every year, for the last five years, since its very inception in 2012! So, if you want to eat the best food in the world, go to Peru! Peru is a treasure-trove of destinations rich in natural reserves, flora and fauna, and also culture. People from all over the world have lived fascinated with Peru for thousands of years. That is the reason why we always say: there are thousands of reasons to visit Peru. We have 12 World Heritage sites which are recognized by UNESCO. Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, Chan Chan, Sacred Valley of Caral (Lima) are just some of them. These places are meant to be admired, to prove to all of mankind that our ancestors did an amazing job, although many centuries ago! Peru is a country where you can reconnect with nature because 70% of the Worldwide Biodiversity is in Peru. It is a country that lets you breathe deep, doing things that replenish your body and soul. It is because of the efforts of the locals and because of the diversity of our ethnical communities, Peru is a country that keeps its traditions alive. Our country is evolving and doing well. We are proud of our culture, our fantastic gastronomy and a new generation of Peruvian Chefs that are gaining reputation worldwide. Peru is also amazing for couples looking for a special trip where they can explore, experience and enjoy. Lima, our capital city, is strategically located in our territory and connects with every city in 1 hour on an average. It is the only capital of South America in front of the sea with a variety of options for leisure and corporate tourists. Lima’s historic centre was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1991. Beautiful churches, a great number of colonial balconies and gorgeous mansions for the aristocracy are just some examples of its cultural legacy. You must visit the Church of San Francisco with its underground burial sites or catacombs, the Sacred City of Carl, one of the first civilizations in the World, 5,000 years ago. Also, Pachacamac, a pre-Inca site with about 20 pyramids is beautiful. But Lima is so much more: today, the capital city offers art, fashion, music, culture, and endless nights of entertainment. The city of Ica, just 3 hours away from Lima by bus, is sunny all year round and is a land of sand dunes and fertile valleys, famous for the mysterious Nazca lines. Ica forms a part of the

We have witnessed a steady 10% y-o-y growth; endeavor to make Peru a known destination in India

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eru is an unexplored destination and has the novelty factor which could propel Indian outbound to Peruvian shores. After all, the outbound, especially the young urban traveler, has developed a keen sense of exploring the unknow. It is with this belief and an eye on tapping a share of the Indian outbound, The

Commercial Office of Peru in India opened its doors in March 2014, and the effort, since then, seems to be paying off. “It was from that very moment that we started on an intense journey campaigning and promoting the wonder that Peru is. Training for tour operators and promoting our country in the important cities of India

began from the very first day. Our efforts continue till today,” ….. “The inflow of tourists from India to Peru has been increasing 10% annually on an average, and we are hoping to have higher figures by the end of 2016,”…… added. Taking stock of Peru’s larger tourism profile, …..said “Peru is an amazing destination. Full

stop. And we are working to ensure that everyone finds out! We will continue in our efforts of promoting Peru as the next best destination in the world.” “It will be our sincere endeavour that the Indian tourist knows exactly what Peru has to offer to everyone- its history, culture, gastronomy and much more,”….concluded.

Peruvian touristic circuit given its cultural and natural beauty. It is ideal for adventure tours in the dunes and outdoor activities, like the buggies in the desert. But what makes this place special, are the Nazca Lines. An enigma of immense proportions that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ica is also synonymous with ecology, boasting of two important natural refuges: the Paracas Natural Reserve and the Ballestas Islands. A motor boat ride to check out the stars of Peruvian coastal wildlife, sea lions and Humboldt penguins is mesmerizing. The city of Cusco was placed on the World Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO in 1983. The main tourist attractions are: the Main Square with its beautiful cathedral and tall fountain tower carved out of a single stone. We also have the San Blas Town with its artisans and artists, and its unique museums and galleries. The Koricancha Temple is built of walls which were originally covered with gold and sites like the fort Sacsayhuaman in the surrounding areas of Cusco which have stones up to 9m of height and 350 tons of weight. Also, not so far from Cusco City lies the Sacred Pisac Complex, and its market for shopping, the Maras Salt Mine, Moray (an agricultural laboratory) and the Ollantaytambo Archeological Temple. But the Inca Empire extended far beyond the Cusco valleys. Down the Urubamba River you will find many sanctuaries and sites. The most famous being Machu Picchu! A Wonder of the world, it is located in a lower altitude than Cusco city. The flora of this region is so abundant that only in MP and the surrounding areas there exists over 500 types of orchids! Perfect for orchid lovers! Visitor who are adventure lovers will find countless number of activities which includes outdoor alternatives like trekking (INKA TRAIL), rafting, zipline, cycling, etc. I must also include Puno and the Lake Titicaca, crown of the Altiplano, home of many cultures in this list. This is a very unique destination, with cultures and people with different ethnical roots from those of the Incas. According to Andean beliefs, the Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the most powerful God- Sun God, called “Inti”. In addition to that, it is home to the largest lake in South America which is the highest navigable body of water in the world. Up there the air is clear, the colors sharper, and the horizon farther. The possibilities for outdoor activities are immense! By boat, you can get into the Floating Island of Los Uros, where the top-hatted Uros people live on “islands” made of the reeds that grow in the lake’s shallows. It is also the folklore capital of Peru and the site of the Virgen de la Candelaria- one of more than 3,000 celebrations held in Peru each year. “Exuberant” is the word that describes the jungle of Peru. The Amazon is the New Natural Wonder of the World. An itinerary should include Iquitos, capital of Loreto and Puerto Maldonado, capital city of Madre de Dios. Both are perfect places to get in touch with the nature, admire the wire formations and also visit local communities, tribes that maintain their style of living and mainly, their daily activities.


outbound : A sia Pacific

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One& Only: Uniqueness of a destination and its offerings integral to its portfolio Ivy Kwan, outlined how a destination and its unique attributes remained central to the group’s philosophy of engaging with the consumer. She also propounded that the luxury segment, despite visible signs of distress in the global markets, was on a firm footing, courtesy a swelling aspirational segment of travellers for whom experiences mattered the most. By Shashank Shekhar

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We want and expect India to grow to be one of our biggest source markets and hopefully, one day we will be able to have a physical presence here that will help us accelerate that. We have great hopes from this market. Every year, our y-o-y growth out of this market to all our resorts, primarily into Dubai, into Cape Town, and into Australia has been amazing. We are seeing growth in the range of 10-25 percent in some of our markets, in terms of the Indian market.

n your portfolio, how do you bring diversity? How do you bring the same consumer to another resort? How do you ensure that a consumer does not feel that if he has seen a resort, he has seen them all?

I think first of all, the core of One& Only is about is about the destination and the location itself. So, if you talk about diversity, there is nothing more diverse than the locations we are in. From Cape Town to Bahamas, to Ocean Club, to Australia to the part of the Great Barrier Reef, to the middle of the Blue Mountains, that in itself is diverse. And, if you look at how we incorporate newly build hotels, the design itself, the experience is very diverse. Service is the one thing that remains constant. Our service execution is at such an unparalleled level, and that is something that the guest will always want to come back for – and instead of saying, “been there done that,” I think it has such an opposite effect that people want to come back for the unique One& Only experience. I will give you an example: next year we are opening a One& Only in Sanya in China. It will be our first resort in the whole of Asia.

Personalisation and consistency of service are key pillars to the philosophy of guest experience at the One&Only Resorts. And, I look at how we are building an experience which is, yes, catering to the Chinese market and yet, at the same time, retaining what makes One& Only so special at the international level. Areas how we are going to make it very different is that we are retaining the fact that we are one of those brands that has a unique relationship with Michelin star chefs, so we will be the only resort in the whole of Sanya that has a Michelin star experience – with our pool-side bar and grillery. So, they are different experiences that we are looking to incorporate. The fact that as a part of our design, we will be building the biggest Hammam Spa in the whole of China, and we are working with S SPA for that. So, in terms of diversity, the experiences that our that our guests are looking to find in the One& Only, that is something we are known for.

So, F&B and spa are some of the key elements in the overall experience? Yes, Absolutely.

Does the F&B, too, entail regional variations, depending on the destinations? I am sure that as well comes into play, is not it?

Oh! Yes. I mean if you look at Australia, in Australia we are known for fantastic food and wine. In Wolgan Valley, we source our food regionally, nothing but the best produce and, of course, when you go across to Mexico there are regionally specialities as well. So, other pieces, the activities that are

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Ivy Kwan Aaron wodin-schwartz VP, Sales and Marketing, Asia Pacific director public policy, brand usa

unique to the destination we are unique… Again, coming back to Australia, we are in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. There is nothing like taking a helicopter ride to look at the outer reef, or to behold one of nature’s most astounding creations, or when you are in the Wolgan Valley when you are taking a Horse riding experience, to stargazing which is a part of our night safari experience, that in itself is just incredible.

What are some of the qualifying

contours? What is the philosophy of the guest experience?

I think the guest experience itself. Personalisation is a huge part of it, and consistency of service. We hear that word a lot, but how do you enliven it and how do you ensure that it is delivered across all parts of the world – where we have a One& Only; we have only nine resorts across the world. How do we deliver that on a consistent basis so that the guest can say that this is what the One& Only experience is about. That is really what is at the very core of what we strive to do every single day.

Would you elaborate a little on how you achieve that? Well, it is training. Starting with selecting the right people; people who truly care about what we do and who we are. If you look at

Maldives, I was there the last year at our resort. It is not about just working at the resort, it is about caring for the environment. We have a program where we give back to the environment. Coral propagation is something that our marine biologists care deeply about. So, as a guest you are able to contribute to the preservation and the propagation of corals that, as you may have read about global warming, over exposure, whether it is in the Great Barrier Reef or in the Maldives, the bleaching of the corals is happening. But as a guest, you just do not have to be someone who comes and lies on the beach all day and drinks cocktails, you can do more to contribute to it. We have a program where as a guest, you are able to contribute to little baby corals that you can drop into the house reef and our marine biologists; we have a website that shows our guests how your baby corals are propagating. So, it is these meaningful experiences like these, where by it becomes more than just a holiday.

How is the luxury segment faring worldwide? We understand that the luxury segment has taken a dip, globally.

I think luxury travel will remain unabated. There is enough business out there in the luxury tier and we are seeing an emerging middle-class, aspirational traveller. So, you have a tier that may not be only in their behaviour, but we see luxury travel growing from people who want to experience something really private and personal. There is a shift away from commercialization, where you see, across markets, local experiences, show and tell experiences to something that is more private and intimate. However, we are also seeing is that with the digital world that is unfolding in India and China, people want to be able to say that they are in Maldives, or in the Great Barrier Reef, it is no longer about showing that you have a new Louis Vuitton or a new Chanel bag, so that is a shift that we are able to capitalize on in continuing to provide a genuine experience in a very personal manner.

India is incredibly important to us; accessibility a crucial factor in deciding footfall Destinations like Dubai, which were comparatively closer to India, were garnering more footfalls, said Ivy Kwan. She also argued that the group’s cautious growth was a part of the larger strategy to maintain its impeccable standard.

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e see you opening a resort in Europe and in China. When can we expect you to come into India? How has the Indian market been for you?

We want and expect India to grow to be one of our biggest source markets and hopefully, one day we will be able to have a physical presence here that will help us accelerate that. We have great hopes from this market. Every year, our y-o-y growth out of this market to all our resorts, primarily into Dubai, into Cape Town, into Australia, has been amazing.

What is the y-o-y growth in terms of numbers?

We are seeing growth in the range of 10-25 percent in some of our markets, in terms of the Indian market. Obviously, accessibility has a lot to do with that. Hopefully, we will be able to do more.

In the pecking order, what are your top source countries?

Europe, USA and Russia, these are our traditional markets, and the numbers are significant for us as a group, and will continue to remain so. But obviously, India, china, Japan and Australia are leading the way to be our top source markets as well.

It is a little strange that with a luxury brand like yours is yet to have its footprints in Europe. Is it a wilful omission?

We are very careful with our growth. I would like to say that we have only nine resorts, but we act like we have ninety. We really punch above our weight. The reason for that is we are very careful with destinations and the partners that we work with. We cannot and will not compromise with the quality and that comes across design, product, building, the people, training and experiences that we want to create for our guests – and to find partners like that in the local markets, we have to be really careful.


Outbound: Unite d Kingdom

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Britain: More affordable post-Brexit; moots a brand-new marketing campaign Britain has traditionally remained a highly sought-after destination for the Indian outbound. The trend is likely to continue with the UK getting 16% cheaper for travellers, compared to the previous year, says Sumathi Ramanathan. To further strengthen footfalls from India, VisitBritain is rightly undertaking the task of educating the travel trade about the positive visa initiatives taken by the UK Visa & Immigration. Excerpts of the interview: By TF Bureau

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any believe that Brexit has been a blessing in disguise for travel and tourism into Britain, with the Pound getting weaker. Has that reflected in the Indian market, too? Post Brexit, how has been the outbound into Britain like?

It is a great time to book a trip to explore all that Britain’s nations and regions have to offer with its visitor attractions, hotels and shops all offering good value for Indian travellers right now. At the end of November, the UK was 16% more affordable for visitors from India than it was the same time last year. Flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings from India to the UK for December 2016 – February 2017 were up 2% compared to the same period last year.

Also, what is the nature of travel of the majority in the region? Do you reckon that a strong presence of Indian community, in fact South Asians, actually deters higher spending because of being in the VFR category (visiting friends and relatives)?

Visitors from India spend more and stay longer than the average inbound visitor. Indian visitors spend on average £1,025 in the UK, two-thirds more than the average visitor, and stay for an average of 21.8 nights which is almost three times longer than the all-market average of 7.56 nights. Visitors from India also have a high propensity to travel beyond London, with more than half of all nights spent outside of the capital. The majority of

visitors from India come here on holiday and the number one activity amongst all Indian visitors is shopping followed by exploring castles and historic houses, and visiting galleries and museums.

British PM Theresa May’s first stop after assuming office was India, which indicates the level of importance that Britain bestows on India. What are some key areas of engagements between the two nations and has the exchanges at various levels between two countries reflected in enhanced movement? What has been the statistics for the past few years? Where do you see this heading in coming months? India is one of Britain's most important growth markets for inbound tourism and we know that tourism is a great driver of positive perceptions of a country – it’s soft power. In 2016, Anholt-Gfk Nation Brands Index, which measures global perceptions of 50 different nations, India ranked Britain 4th for both its overall brand and for tourism. Indians who have travelled to Britain are more likely to want to do business and invest here. In 2015 there was a record 422,000 inbound visits from India to the UK, an increase of 8% on 2014. This continues a long-term trend which has seen visits from India increase by 55% in the 10 years since 2005, with spending levels close to doubling. With the Indian economy growing at a rapid pace, inbound tourism to the UK from this fast-growing market looks set to continue to grow. In early 2017, VisitBritain will launch a ‘#OMGB (Oh My GREAT Britain) Home of Amazing Moments’ marketing

Sumathi Ramanathan Aaron wodin-schwartz Director Asia Pacific, Middle East & director policy, brand usa Africapublic (APMEA) VisitBritain

campaign in India. The campaign will showcase the diversity of incredible experiences and amazing moments that can only be had across Britain’s nations and regions. It is part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign which highlights the very best of what Britain has to offer as a place to visit, study, invest and do business.

How important is this region to Britain's overall tourism landscape? What percentage of the total footfalls does this region in general, and India in particular? What is being done to facilitate hassle-free movement on your part? India is one of our seven GREAT markets –

Demonetization impact: Mindful of expenses, budget conscious outbound may opt for short haul holidays

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ince the government’s decision to demonetize erstwhile currency notes of 1000 and 500 in circulation, there have been murmurs in the industry about its likely impact on projected travel numbers, and

imminent loss of business, especially when the holiday season is right around the corner. Amit Kishore, CoFounder & Director, Think Strawberries believes that given the possibility of a weakening rupee, inflated

cost of itineraries could deter tourists from taking longer vacations to distant shores, instead opting for a short-haul holidays. “One of the impacts could be if that the rupee weakens, it will inflate the price of the package and trips, which will influence the destination choice,” he says. “People will either reduce the length of the travel and stay, or will opt for short haul holidays or destinations which fall in their budget range. While the rupee has clawed back a little after the initial slide, the threat looms of a repeat of that which can severely impact the numbers,” he adds.

Arguing that the lack of easy availability of US Dollars, a consequence of this clampdown, in the open market would also be curtailed – which is largely bought by cash transactions –limiting the exchange amount that people would be able to carry with them. However, despite the blip, he remains positive of the long-term story of Indian outbound. “The overall growth story of India continues to be very strong,” he says. “This is a short-term impact, in the long run the scenario will even out. Maybe the first quarter of 2017, will witness a dip in the number of travelers, but by Q2 and Q3 of the year things are likely to be back to original forecast,” he forecasts.

In early 2017, VisitBritain will launch a ‘#OMGB (Oh My GREAT Britain) Home of Amazing Moments’ marketing campaign in India. The campaign will showcase the diversity of incredible experiences and amazing moments that can only be had across Britain’s nations and regions. It is part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign which highlights the very best of what Britain has to offer as a place to visit, study, invest and do business.

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which means we have increased investment in the country. VisitBritain works closely with the travel trade to increase the regional product offered to customers, making it easier for visitors from India to explore all of Britain’s nations and regions. We also work with UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) on positive visa messaging, facilitating meetings between trade association heads and UKVI and educating trade on positive visa initiatives. In January 2017, we are hosting Destination Britain India, our annual tourism mission to India which provides a platform for British destinations, product and suppliers to do business with top tour operators from across India. It will also include briefings and updates from UKVI.

snippets

Korean Air strengthens bilateral connect, commences direct flights to Delhi from Incheon ending more teeth to the bilateral connect between Korea and India, Korean Air recently commenced its direct flight Lservice between Delhi and Incheon. The maiden flight from

Incheon to Delhi was welcomed by a delegation comprising of Cho Hyun, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of India, Shefali Juenja, Director of Ministry of Civil Aviation(MOCA), Pradeep Panicker and Douglas Webster, CEO and COO of Delhi International Airport (P) Limited(DIAL), as well as Song Bo Young, Korean Air’s Regional Director for South East Asia. Korean Air’s Incheon-Delhi direct service will operate 5 days a week utilizing an Airbus A330-200 aircraft capable of seating 218. Equipped with Korean Air’s newest seats in both First and Prestige Class and cutting edge AVOD system, the aircraft will provide customers utmost comfort.


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Niche: we ddings

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Weddings seek exotic locales: Kovalam, Udaipur and Goa are top picks From theme-based weddings to exotic locations – ranging from Goa, Kovalam and Udaipur, to Abu Dhabi, Oman and Thailand – young Indians seeking to get married are pulling out all the stops to make their occasion a special one. The outcome of this zeal is leading to some interesting trends for the outbound and domestic travel segments. Jyoti Balani engages with some top hotels and wedding planners in the Maharashtra region to uncover some major unfoldings in this niche segment. By Jyoti Balani

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eddings are special occasions which call for special celebrations and more so in countries like ours where weddings become an excuse for people to let their hair down, celebrate life and new beginnings. India as a country has always been a favourite with several tourists who wish to get married here. In fact, on several of my overseas travels, the friends I make always ask me if they can get an invite to a wedding in India. Our very own desi weddings have always reflected pomp, grandeur, colour and celebration at their opulent best. The tourism industry benefits immensely by the fact that so many couples all over the world want to visit exotic destinations in India to get hitched and locals scout for unique locations all the time within the country. Luxury hotels in Mumbai are a hot favourite these days with the who’s who of society. The St. Regis Mumbai seems to be the destination hotel of choice for recent celebrity weddings which become the talk of the town owing to their high-profile attendance and are a major business segment for the hotel industry in India. “Everyone wants a fairy tale wedding. Destination weddings are the current trend where both the bride and the groom along with their families can live in the same hotel. This gives them the feasibility and an opportunity for the couple to celebrate their wedding at a gorgeous destination of their choice,” says Vinayak Mhatre, Director of Catering and Event Management at The St. Regis Mumbai. “The St. Regis Mumbai has hosted a lot of Mumbai’s most exclusive and memorable events and wedding receptions. At the St. Regis Mumbai, brides and grooms receive the highest level of care and attention from their initial meeting with our experienced staff to the last moment of their enchanted gathering. It also depends on the scale of the wedding. Usually the guests use their own wedding planners so the hotel works in tandem with the wedding planner to finalize the food and beverage, themes and venue. We also offer a panel of vendors and wedding butlers to ensure a seamless experience. Celebrities who have had their wedding functions

in the recent past at The St Regis Mumbai are Shahid Kapoor, Priety Zinta, Bipasha Basu and Masaba Gupta. It is our endeavour to ensure that as each couple approaches their wedding day, The St. Regis Mumbai offers the attentive service beyond expectation to make the celebration a magical and majestic affair. From customized dining options to bespoke spa treatments for the bridal party, to even assistance in selecting the finest linens, our wedding planner will thoughtfully curate the every element to make the couple’s vision a reality. Weddings at The St. Regis Mumbai are perfectly organized with refined meals characterized by the best

Indian and International traditional flavours in modern presentations. Our focus is to ensure that our chefs work closely with the families to curate a menu that matches the theme and to ensure that the family’s guests enjoy an opulent spread befitting the wedding,” he goes on to add. Wedding planners in the region are extremely busy at this time of the year and creating a unique theme for everyone seems to be a challenge. “This year we have seen a steady demand in newer and more exotic destination-based themes. Where earlier people wanted Moroccan and Arab themes or Rajasthani elements,

this year we've done a wedding where we had to draw inspiration from China and create a theme that we called “Looking East”. We also did one inspired from our visit to Paris! Jewel trends and deeper colours are definitely back for the winter, and opulence in general is the mood,” says Noureen Morani, Business Head of Cineyug. “Europe seems to be the hottest destination this season, though of course not over the winter. But we have also had some amazing opportunities to discover the Sultanate of Oman as a new and upcoming favourite and we were so impressed that we will be definitely recommending it to those looking for a culturally

rich and exciting new destination. Croatia, Budapest, Morocco, Abu Dhabi are just a few of the top of my head, but travel, in fact is one of the most efficient areas of planning, since it can be completed much in advance and other than a few changes last minute, clients end up saving quite a bit in bulk bookings or chartering flights ahead of time.”

Exotic culinary offerings integral to a theme wedding

Destinations with natural scenic beauty are a favourite with many a couple who plan to get married. Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach is a popular choice in Mumbai as it is attached to the beach and makes

This year we have seen a steady demand in more exotic destinationbased themes. Where earlier people wanted Moroccan and Arab themes or Rajasthani elements, this year we've done a wedding where we had to draw inspiration from China and create a theme that we called “Looking East”. We also did one inspired from our visit to Paris! Jewel trends and deeper colours are definitely back.

Everyone wants a fairy tale wedding. Destination weddings are the current trend where both the bride and the groom along with their families can live in the same hotel. This gives them the feasibility and an opportunity for the couple to celebrate their wedding at a gorgeous destination of their choice.

,,

Vinayak Mhatre Director of Catering and Event Management, St. Regis Mumbai

Noureen Morani Business Head of Cineyug

The trend in the wedding space additionally has highly transformed from just having a regular buffet dinner or lunch to now more for experiential food and beverage offering with a high demand for live cooking stations. While providing guests with all assistance needed in the wedding related preparations and requirements, thus giving the hotel a great opportunity to showcase the various F&B offerings. Manish Dayya General Manager, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach

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Wedding locations are subjective to where the couple and their families are from. Within India, popular destinations are Goa, Jaipur, Udaipur and Kovalam; however, destinations such as Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, Mussourie, Bikaner and Ajmer are getting ‘trendy’. For international destination weddings – Thailand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Oman are favourites for couples and families based out of India. Divya Chadha A Klass Apart, a boutique wedding agency

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Niche: we ddings

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Experiential travel: social media making travellers more resourceful By John Owen VP- Travel & Hospitality, Infogain

Hotels and service providers would need to assimilate the ‘experience’ part in their offerings to a discerning traveller to remain relevant in a fast altering tourism market place, writes John Owen. for a romantic setting for weddings. “The latest trends in the wedding business as far as an Absolute Beach Front Property like Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach is concerned are mainly that, apart from the formal marriages and wedding receptions that take place inside the banquet halls and indoor space, high demands are also for the Pool Side venue overlooking the Arabian Sea with expectations for floral theme based décor, sundowner parties and exotic multi cuisine offerings. The trend in the wedding space additionally has highly transformed from just having a regular buffet dinner or lunch to now more for experiential food and beverage offering with a high demand for live cooking stations. While providing guests with all assistance needed in the wedding related preparations and requirements, we realize that the food plays a vital role to suit every ritual and ceremony from engagements to Mehendi, Sangeet and formal sit down dinners, theme based nights thus giving the hotel a great opportunity to showcase the various food and beverage offerings and work along for all the themes from

are getting more enquiries for Jordan, Egypt, Malta, Greece, and Italy. Couples who want a more whimsical and carefree wedding tend to opt for beach locations such as Goa. Those looking for something more regal and palatial opt for the beautiful palaces in Rajasthan (Devi Garh, Jag Mandir, Shiv Niwas, Manek Chowk), Hyderabad (Taj Falaknama) and Turkey (Ciaragan Palace on the Bosphorus and Mardan Palace). When it comes to Food – the trends are endless. We love the idea of focusing on live counters and forgoing on the standard buffet practices that are popular within India. Thematic food trucks are a big hit along with curated bite size food pairings (think mini tacos with a shot of tequila or oysters and champagne)”, she said. Families and couples in India and abroad seem to pull out all stops when it comes to spending money on weddings as opulence seems to be the name of the game. “The money that is spent on travel varies for each wedding. NRI's coming into India from UK or USA prefer locations wherein

International destinations like Thailand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Oman are favourites for couples and families based out of India. colors to states ethnicities to cultural ambience” reveals Manish Dayya, General Manager-Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach.

‘Trendy’ locations important element to an Indian wedding

Divya Chadha of A Klass Apart, a boutique wedding agency feels when it comes to the latest trends – the wedding industry is constantly evolving. “The Indian wedding market has caught onto this and we are seeing more couples getting involved in the decision-making process of their weddings and this allows for a fantastic fusion of contemporary design with hints of Indian elements. Wedding locations are subjective to where the couple and their families are from. Within India, popular destinations are Goa, Jaipur, Udaipur and Kovalam; however, destinations such as Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, Mussourie, Bikaner and Ajmer are getting ‘trendy’. For international destination weddings – Thailand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Oman are favourites for couples/families based out of India – although we

they can get direct flights as it is more cost effective for them and their guests. For couples or families from India - some communities even pay for flights for their guests - so the location is picked based on ease of accessibility and cost of flight tickets. For international destinations, the travel cost is a big factor in determining the wedding guest list as well – especially if guests are paying for their own flights. On an average, we have noticed that wedding families and guests are willing to spend up between `5,000 to `15,000 for destinations within India and `35,000 - max `40,000 when travelling from within India to an international destination. NRI couples from UK / USA who are having a wedding in India will spend between £400 - £600 from UK and up to $1500 on flights (majority of the guests pay for their own rooms so the flight cost is very important to them),” reveals Divya Chadha. By the looks of it, the wedding market in India only seems to be burgeoning which augurs well for the travel and tourism industry in the country.

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xperience the world within

Idyllic settings, pristine surroundings, gourmet cuisines, breath-taking views and oodles of pampering defined vacations, well, till recent times at least. “To travel is to live” goes the famous saying. And making this come true is the widely popular and growing concept of experiential travel that is making the traveller live as one with their surroundings. Experiential travel is redefining the travel norms and altering travel itineraries like never before. Away from the run of the mill and homely comforts, the new age traveller wants an experience that is unique, bespoke and a far cry from the tour packages on offer a plenty. It’s an experience that makes a person travel on a deeper and more personal level and to live through natural and spiritual highs in the arms of nature. The affinity towards discovering and connecting with the inner self is making travel brands offer more social travel experiences using technology and a wide spread global network of small operators. With our existing lives being governed by the clicks and the upload across the social media streams, the genre of experiential travel is trying to connect the dots and complete the experience matrix for the discerning traveller. Industry estimates reveal that the travel market in the country is slated to cross the $40 billion mark by 2020. This growth will be in perfect unison with the exponential growth being experienced by the domestic travel industry that is seeing an upswing owing to the 700 million plus urban population that is forever on the lookout for different experiences. This growing demand as well as the intense competition in the hotel industry is making the players offer unique and different experiences that make them stand apart.

seen as a way of unraveling and accepting alternative ways of life, learning more about the cultural evolution and ethos and even step out on a journey of self-discovery and evolution. Travel today has become seeking an emotional connect with the journey and the penultimate destination and not just get restricted to regular sightseeing and packaged tours.

Technology to the rescue

Internet is abuzz with a plethora of sites and operators popping up to offer an array of experiences to the growing traveller base with even various applications being introduced to plan the experience with the minutest of details being taken care off. These apps like Mobile Vacation Planner by Infogain, a tablet based app that helps to trip booking, empowers travel service providers to facilitate an interactive experiential mobile travel planning to their customers. Apps like these enables travellers to access and explore rich travel content organized by geography. They can access things to see and do, read reviews, including ratings and recommendations written by other similar minded travellers to help them intelligently plan their next holiday or vacation. It has become a need of the hour for travel technology and hospitality industry, especially the hotel brands to join hands to promote experiential travel for their future sustenance and remain relevant to travellers needs. And to be truly authentic, travel brands will have to don the hat of a local irrespective of the brands original presence and position and think of their presence in the context of their destination. The growing acceptance and popularity of experiential travel has led to the rise of a number of sharing-based travel web platforms and apps, enabling tourists to engage with the locals. Airbnb, a global lodging platform, follows this model, connecting homeowners with travellers in search for accommodation options both in the private and shared space category. Catering to needs of all kinds of travellers, the choices offered by these web-based platforms are often affordable and flexible. These platforms also offer visitor infrastructure for upcoming destinations that are still to establish them on the tourists map. The growing penetration of social media and mobile has become a popular method of planning and sharing trips with information, resources and recommendations being exchanged between travellers using these platforms. Along with sharing and promoting, the social media strategy is also proving successful in creating an interaction platform between brands and consumers. So explore, click and book the next experience that will make the ‘likes’ flow.

The growing penetration of social media has popularized planning and sharing of trips.

Change is Constant

Adopting and adapting change is the only way to flourish for travel brands targeting specific niches. A PEAK+SKIFT report on the rise of the experiential traveller states that the adventure travel market has grown 65 per cent yearly since 2009 according to last year’s Adventure Tourism Market Study, co-produced by George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). The change is evident at both ends with both the travellers and the players exploring and offering more flexibility, technology integration and acceptance to soft adventures like snorkeling, volcano climbing, cooking with the local produce with the local chefs and experiencing the unconventional and unique stay accommodations including tree houses, home stays, light houses, caravans and luxury tents among others. This trend clearly indicates the preference towards journey and not the destination. Travelling is being


B ITB

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Industry lauds the launch edition of BITB; comprehensive support for concept BITB launch edition was held earlier this year in New Delhi. We bring you a selection of comments from top echelons in both government and industry on their reactions and how they look forward to future editions. BITB 2017 will be held from 21-23 September.

Amitabh Kant CEO, Niti Aayog

Hon’ble Lt. Governor of Delhi

Najeeb Jung

Mehbooba Mufti

It is a great initiative; it has been beautifully done. This will take India’s travel and tourism to another height. It has been done wonderfully to global standards. This will be a catalyst to driving India’s travel and tourism.

This effort of BITB, combined with what people like Navin are doing is really yeoman service to the country.

I am thankful to Navin Berry for having given me this opportunity to be here among you people. I was in two minds whether I should come for this function, as you know things have not be too good back home. But at the end of it, you know, I thought what would my father had done. Would he have skipped this function? I mean, I said, no way. He would have done anything to be in a gathering of this kind.

Chief Minister, Jammu & Kashmir

Farooq shah

Kapil Mishra

Minister of Tourism, Delhi Government

As the tourism minister of Delhi, we are very proud that Delhi is the Host City partner for BITB.

Welcome to the icon of tourism! The leader who has given new shape and new definition to tourism.

Dipak Haksar

Secretary (Tourism), Jammu & Kashmir

I am feeling great. It is a beginning. In the near future, it should be a great travel mart. This is only B2B. It has started very well, and my compliments to Navin Berry and his team. They have done a good job – and we will always be participating in such events. Jammu & Kashmir is paradise on earth, and it still holds true. So, we have a destination which is topping the country and we are the best in the country as a natural destination.

Mahesh Sharma

Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (IC)

CEO, ITC Hotels

Kapil Chopra President, The Oberoi Group

I think what I like about BITB is that the entire industry has actually come together. I think, for me, that is a big achievement. If you have to take demand anywhere in India, and if you have to grow tourist demand in the country, it is very important that the entire industry comes together and creates a platform where people can meet. I think BITB fulfils that purpose.

Very very good. I think it is an excellent initiative and I must congratulate Navin Berry for having initiated this and tied up with ITB Berlin – which is really a premier travel event in the world, and to have supported this initiative will go a long way in developing inbound tourism for India. I think it is a good beginning. It obviously has to grow, and we will need more international buyers come in. And, I think that can only happen when all stakeholders are committed to developing this property.

Vikram Madhok Managing Director, Abercrombie & Kent

Actually, I am very impressed for a world-class show like ITB Berlin to come to India, of course, in the avatar of BITB. I am also very impressed to see the array, the complete bandwidth of all the partners to come together at the show. Any show, especially such as BITB because being an international show, an international organisation, it has a huge PR mileage and coverage across the globe. So, a show like this will create an international platform for Incredible India. And, it will most certainly solidify our position globally that if a show like ITB Berlin can come to India, then certainly the world should wake up and come to India.

Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar Executive Director, HRH Group of Hotels

Feels great. It is nice. The family is coming back together again. The entire tourism family is coming back, which is wonderful on different forums. I would like to applaud the venture. Compliments to Navin Berry for what they have actually done. Every such thing takes time, a few years, to settle down, but obviously, the industry in the strength that it has come here shows a lot of support and solidarity towards the concept, which is great. Looking forward to a long association with BITB in the coming years.

Marcel Kromhout

GM, Sales & Marketing, Resplendent Ceylon, Sri Lanka

Chinmai Sharma

Chief Revenue Officer, Taj Hotels, Palaces and Resorts

We are very happy to be here. All these forums actually help project India to its best. So, it is good to see all these hotel companies come together. I think in terms of number of people and buyers, we need more. But, it is a good setup.

So far so good. I think the concept of the show is really good, because you can spend quality time with your clients. It is not a rushed job where you just give out your business card. I would say that we have about 50 appointments today – which is double from what we anticipated to have. And, out of these 50, 25 have good potential to give out good business for our Sri Lankan property.


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