Is this the time for Halla Bol!

The picture of travel and tourism industry doesn’t seem to be as glossy as it looks. If we intend to go deeper we find that every day many agents are either incurring huge losses or are threatened by the online offers or are shutting down their shutters. In this scenario, the question is, are the online portals eating up the business of the agents who are doing business the conventional way? Is it an ethical way of doing a business where one section of the travel and tourism i.e. the online portals is doing pretty well despite making profits, whereas the tour operators are not able to compete with them, as per few tour operators. Let’s have a look.

halla bol

Sudipta Saha

‘Ethical’ is a big word in itself, the meaning of it doesn’t stand as simple as its pronunciation. Today, ethical is really losing its meaning, not only in regards to travel and tourism industry, but also in other verticals. The online portals are taking away the business of the tour operators which is being claimed by many of the tour operators these days, and Ethical Tourism Policy has become a buzz. Let’s first understand what ETP is and why this initiative has been started by a group of tour operators. Online travel portals which are armed with large foreign funding are squeezing hoteliers for lowest possible rate and have brought almost a monopolistic situation. They are in a way abetting unethical practices in the travel and tourism industry. Many Tour operators have to shut shop and many are on the verge of closure because Tour operators are not able to compete with the heavy discounting by portals.

But, is anybody making money in the process? The answer is, none! The whole beneficiary in this game of price war by travel portals is direct customer. The ARRs of hotels have gone down drastically, and the offline agents have literally swept out of business because OTAs sell inventory lower than their purchase price to kill the competition. Most of the tour operators want a permanent solution, else they will be forced to shift their business options, says the member of ETP group.

The group firmly believes that hotels should play the role of a principal and product supplier and frame rational sales policies for the tourism industry. The group basically wants to stop hotels to offer attractive special rates to offline or online tour operators producing results for them. All what they demand to hotels is to have strict ethical tourism policy. Firstly hotels should allow portals to discount the rates only on B2B portals and B2C portals should display selling price set by hotels.

The ETP under this model aims at benefitting the hoteliers as well. It says, hotel’s ARR will increase as discounted rates are not displayed and dot coms will be making better profits and will not squeeze hotels for lower rates. As the price war will be resolved, it will be create better profits for the hotels. It also states that hotel’s direct customer will not have any complaints from the hotels as display rates on portals will be higher than nett rates quoted to portals. This will result in gaining the confidence and enhancing hotels credibility amongst direct clients. Since discounted rates are going to be only b2b portals and display rates on b2c portals, travel agents, tour operators will be more loyal to hotels. Hotels will get their bulk sales from Dot Coms as tour operators will be routing their business through their B2B portals.

When it comes to portals, the ETP promises that they will also be benefitted. Since on b2c portals clients will see only selling price and will either book directly or will come through a tour operator. In both the options portals will be benefitted. If clients book on display rates, portals will make more profits, if client comes through an agent which again route his business through portals because of the heavy discounted price on the portals. So portals are getting benefit either ways. Portals will get a loyal team of professionals (i.e tour operators) with no cost which will further enhance their business as tour operators will provide personalised services to all clients. As of now they have to hire team and have that liability of paying them on monthly basis. One customer probably comes to portals may once or twice a year for his booking. But if agents start making profits through portals then probably each agent might be able to give two to 10 bookings a day resulting in maintaining or enhancing the high turnover model of the portals with better service standards. Portals can create their own team of loyal professionals (agents) at no cost and still be able to maintain their turnovers. This will probably convert into a model where agent’s offices can be claimed claim their own offices by portals and can provide all service of offline as well, such as payment collection, personalised services, etc, through the local agents of the specific locations.

The movement obviously intends to provide benefits to tour operators, affordability and easy access of technology at no cost using the portals for bookings. Else agents will have to spend crores of rupees which hardly anyone of the tour operators can afford. An ease of business will be created as portals will do all spade work of contracting and will upload on b2b where tour operators have just to login and conclude the booking procedure. Tour operators are running from pillar to post to get wide range of hotels and keep negotiating the rates will be reduced as portals will do all the contracting that too on a special discounted rates and with incentive schemes by portals. Agents will get their customers and profitability back as clients do not have excess to b2b portals and can see the common display rates on b2c portals only set by hotels.

ETP, a war between offline and online, better to be termed as a movement, is a step to bring in the industry i.e. hoteliers, portals and tour operators together and work as a team. The tour operators are on a verge of losing their business and concerned with the rising demand of online. It is important for all verticals of the industry to follow certain ethical practices so that interests of the industry as well as the clients are safeguarded.

What is (ETP) Ethical Tourism Policy?
ETP is not against any portals or technology it’s not about online vs offline, many are confused, rightly so as industry is going through transit. The aim of the policy is to use technology for the benefits of all industry partners in fact ETP welcome technology and suggest all members to adopt the technology for its better use. Under ethical tourism policy, hoteliers to stop only these few portals which are using their dominant position of having excess funds to under sell (selling even below their purchased cost) b2c portals to have common display rates (selling price) set by hotels. As many hotels could sense brand diluting by not getting the same profile of guests due to this under cutting of price by using different means of under cutting, discounted coupons, advertisement budgets etc.
ETP is against ‘Predatory Pricing’ which is illegal under CCI, (Competition Commission of India) Predatory pricing the act of setting prices low in an attempt to eliminate the competition. Predatory pricing is illegal under anti-trust laws, as it makes markets more vulnerable to a monopoly. Therefore Govt., allow 100 per cent FDI for market place with riders of predatory pricing, these OTAs must regulate else purpose of ETP is to approach govt and force regulation of such practices.
As of now it is a price war in our Industry, whereas the service standards have gone down drastically in the absence of respectable margins due to price war created by few OTAs. Market has become so vulnerable that news of defaulters and cheating has become very common which is not a good sign for any industry.

TTJ Feels
Ethical Tourism Policy is the new buzz in the tourism industry, where the online travel booking is taking over the conventional system. Well, we all will agree that today is an era of technology which has made everything easy and convenient. Online booking can be trouble-free, but often booking holidays through it cannot give a pleasant experience. Whether, it is tour operators, hoteliers or portals, all are the elements of the same industry and they should welcome the change as well as it is a high time to work as a team, and not step over each other shoulder to climb up the success ladder. We feel, all three should come together in order to offer better service to the consumer which in future will definitely lead to expansion and economic growth. The ‘price war’ should be resolved and better understanding amongst the hotels, tour operators and portals should be developed.
ETP is a great initiative, in order to save the dying business of the offline agents, but is a bunch of people enough to drive the mission. The answer is ‘NO’, if the entire industry is facing crisis, then it’s time to be united, come together and convert the movement into mass movement.

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Delhi Tourism Ministry to launch ‘Brand Delhi’ in 2016

kapil mishra, delhi tourism minister, tourism minister

Shri Kapil Misra, Tourism Minister, Delhi, is a young, dynamic, enthusiastic and full of ideas. He talks about Delhi; he feels it and envisions taking Delhi to greater heights, by boosting its tourism in its various aspects. Just in six months of taking the charge as Delhi’s Tourism Minister, he has strategically picked out the small elements and through them is working towards achieving the larger vision he has for the state. In 2015, the Delhi Tourism Department was fairly dormant, however, he plans to change the same and bring in many new initiatives giving Delhi Tourism the much needed push. He shares his plans for 2016 exclusively with TTJ.

Sudipta Saha

2015 was not an unusual year for Delhi in terms of tourist flow in the state; it has been an average year. But one improvement which has happened in the year 2015 is that the networking of Delhi Tourism Department has improved, which has been an achievement. Earlier what use to happen was that tour operators were working on some other activities and government was taking some other initiatives and the connection between both were missing. We have started emphasising on relation building and even on policy making; we are taking feedback from the tour operators. For example, Delhi didn’t have any Tourism Policy earlier, so we are in the process of making it and it are on the final stage now. This particular stage, I will name it as a foundation stage, we can’t accept a dramatic result in the moment but, atleast we have started working in a positive direction which for sure in the years to come will give an encouraging outcome.

Key highlights of Tourism Policy:

The policy will carve out an overall overview including what significant approach we will be taking to encourage tourism in the state and in what direction we will be taking it. What will be our vision and what kind of facilities will we provide to tourists coming in the capital. At present the scenario is that, tourists coming in the capital often get lost and do not know where to head towards. So, we are developing quiet many tours, mobile application and are also upgrading our website. We are also in the process of opening up tourist information center. So, first of all, we have shaped our larger goals and now are identifying the small components with the help of which we can achieve the vision we have set.

Vision 2016:

2016 is going to be a year of events for Delhi. All the big events are coming to Delhi. Already we have seen Zubin Mehta, A R Rehman, everyone year after years have came to Delhi and performed. We have changed the event organising policy and are also giving a single window clearance. We are also planning Delhi Festival at massive scale in the month of February 2016, which will later on become an annual event. We are also planning few major events on the banks of Yamuna River. All the major events will be coming to Delhi and this will be the year when we will launch Brand Delhi. The first phase of marketing Brand Delhi campaign nationally and internationally will also start. This is going to be a very interesting year for us. We are also working on certain ideas, few logos or symbols or products which one can identify with the capital. At present we are working with Delhi I Love, running a campaign on Twitter, taking feedback from people. Yet, we have not taken any concrete decision. Definitely, there will be symbol, punchline, and a whole marketing exercise will be done for Delhi.

Reviving unknown heritage sites:

There are around 200 heritage sites which are unknown and are reviving many of those. We also have an archaeological section in South Delhi, which have never been maintained. We now are putting all the records online which are approx 10 lakhs pages. We are also planning small tours to these heritage sites and around 100 walks these not so known sites and will also launch several walks such as food walk, history walk, etc. For this we are looking for partners, several NGOs have come forward, there are other commercial organisations and others such as FICCI, CII are coming forward. It is going to be a mass exercise where so many people are coming forward.

Other initiative:

We are going to brand the food heritage in old part of Delhi. People are already going there and experiencing it, but it is not well managed and promoted. There are some food walks in the southern part of Delhi which we are going to initiate in the coming two months. Apart from this, other major issue is to deal with touts in the airport, railway station and bus terminal area. There are also many fake tourist information centers. These touts does not allow people to enter Delhi, the moment they land wrong information is passed on to them saying there is a curfew or strike in the city and take people outside Delhi. We have reports and I have also written to Delhi Police Commissioner and Lt Governor to organise a joint meeting with Delhi Police and Tourism Ministry. There are many FIRs and need a corporation from Delhi Police. We are also changing the DTDC website and it will be dynamic and interactive website and will also launch Delhi Tourism on Twitter and Facebook.

Promotional plans:

We are in touch with people who have organised Singapore Festival and Mumbai Festival and we are learning from. We are also connecting all the events which we are doing in Delhi. So with the launch of Delhi Festival you will see the change. Without any initiative people are coming to Delhi and would like to visit Delhi despite of any negative feedback. Earlier there was no strategy there and if they were doing any events, there was no long term strategy behind it. We need to have an action and we are working on a long term policy and strategy and once we roll it out in February 2016, you will see that we have a plan.

It’s 2nd innings with The Resort- fall in love all over again

It’s 2nd innings with The Resort- fall in love all over again, senior citizen packages

Senior Citizen Package
Relive your day of love with the most delightful experience at The Resort, Madh-Marve, Malad Mumbai. In a homelike atmosphere, you can spend all those desired moments here which you perhaps missed in your early life. The Resort offers an exotic Senior Citizen Package, customized for you and your loved ones. Located at Madh-Marve in Mumbai, ‘The Resort’ is a luxury beach resort, a getaway located on Aksa beach facing the Arabian Sea that assures their enchanting best for the nature lovers. Enjoy pristine luxury and relaxation in The Resort exotically designed rooms for just INR 7,999 on Double Occupancy for Standard room and INR 8,999 on Double Occupancy for Delux room and invigorate yourselves with a bracing stay-cation at The Resort.

The package includes a non-alcoholic welcome drink on arrival. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Buffet in High-Tide Restaurant. Complimentary Wine and Cookies. Use of Wi-Fi in Rooms and Hotel areas. Complimentary use of Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball, Cycling, Swimming, Badminton Courts and Spaces*. The package also includes complimentary pick-up and drop facility for pre-paid bookings. Overall, ‘The Resort’promises you a decorous lifestyle in a lavish, rejuvenating and secure environment. And what’s most unique is the fact that you can have all the fun within the city limits.

According to Mr. Satyajit Kotwal, General Manager of The Resort, “2nd Innings is a gift for senior citizens- a child can gift his or her parents and has nothing to worry from transport to food and stay. We have had inquires wherein guests were interested in staying at The Resort, howvere commuting was an issue and that’s why we thought of having an all inclusive package”. Hotels have monsoon and festival packages, but we have never had any stay packge specially designed for senior citizens to meet and suit their needs, he added.

Terms & conditions associated with the package:
• Offer valid from Sundays To Thursdays- Check IN-12 Noon, Check Out-10:00 Hours
• Applicable for couples falling within the age group of 60 years and above
• Age Proof mandatory at the time of Check-in

Mauritius records 18 per cent growth in Indian tourist arrivals in 2015

As per the statistics shared by MTPA, 72,145 Indian tourists visited Mauritius in 2015. This is an increase of 18per cent as compared to 61,167 tourists who visited in 2014. Speaking on this subject, Mr Sanjay Sondhi, CEO, OM Tourism said that the growth was due to the stupendous efforts of the MTPA India team. He further added “We are looking forward to an even better 2016”. Vivek Anand, Country Manager said “We have seen a remarkable rise of Indian footfalls to Mauritius from all target groups i.e. FIT, MICE, Wedding, Families and honeymooners.

Mauritious

I would like to thank all stakeholders for partnering MTPA in this endeavour. We have seen more wedding and MICE groups showing interest in Mauritius. We also initiated direct interaction with the consumers – promotions in malls and during Golf tournaments, Radio campaigns and a destination promotion series on NDTV Good Times anchored by Rocky and Mayur helped us to increase awareness about the destination. Anand added that “we expect the numbers to increase by another 20 per cent next year with more weddings and MICE groups visiting Mauritius. We will continue promoting Mauritius as a MICE, Wedding, Honeymoon, Adventure, Golf, Family and Luxury destination in 2016.”

FAST organises a seminar on ‘Make In India: Challenges and Opportunities in Civil Aviation Sector’

The Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism (FAST) organised the Seminar on ‘Make in India : Challenges and Opportunities in Civil Aviation Sector’ on February 2, 2016 at the India International Center. Hon’ble Minister of Civil Aviation Shri P Ashok Gajapathi Raju was the chief guest and inaugurated the seminar by lighting the lamp along with Secretary Civil Aviation Shri R N Choubey besides others on the dias. While welcoming the delegates, Lt. Gen. KM Seth (Retd.), former Governor of Tripura and Chhattisgarh and President FAST emphasized that unless all the stake holders come together and make coordinated effort, it will be very difficult to bring about transformation in the aviation sector.

make in india, narendra modi

The Hon’ble Minister of Civil Aviation said that the civil aviation industry in India has ushered a new era of expansion driven by factors such as low-cost carriers (LCC), modernisation of airports, foreign direct investments (FDI) in domestic airlines, cutting edge information technology (IT) interventions and a growing emphasis on regional connectivity and therefore we must utilize the opportunities available under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Dr Mahesh Sharma underlined the importance of better coordination between Civil Aviation and Tourism sectors in synchronizing the developmental activities in both these sectors.

Secretary civil aviation talked about the review of civil aviation policies and consolidation of various fragments which will provide a roadmap towards growth of the civil aviation sector.

Curtain Raiser: The TTJ Jury Choice Awards for Excellence ‘n’ Innovation

travel trade journal, curtain raiser, ttj, ttj jury choice awards

TTJ Jury Choice Awards hosted its curtain raiser in the capital at the Eros Hotel, with leading personalities from the travel and trade fraternity. In order to address the need for fair awards and establish a system that is credible, fair and transparent, the TTJ jury choice awards of excellence ‘n’ innovation in travel have brought back the independent jury system to under the guidance of an equally valuable advisory board and technical committee.

 

TTJ Jury Choice Awards for Excellence ‘n’ Innovation in travel offers a neutral and fair platform that acknowledges path breaking achievements, milestones and innovations that have made a difference across the travel and allied sectors.The event is being supported by Ministry of Tourism, Incredible India, IATO (Indian Association of Tour Operators), IAAI (IATA Agents Association of India), ADTOI (Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India), and many others.

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Mr. Ravi Sharma, Founder and the brainchild behind TTJ Jury Choice Awards, said “There will be great value attached to these achievements and perhaps even perks of replicating these best practices across board in different sectors. Your brand is associated with excellence and innovation and allied with a unique and wonderful opportunity that not only milestones in business administration and innovation but also with change for positive.”
The jury members constitute of eminent industry leaders having impeccable leadership qualities and business acumen along with technical experts and renowned ex-bureaucrats.

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The advisory board has on its panel the leading travel trade association heads and eminent personalities from the trade. The award function will offer recognition across 16 categories, including inbound, domestic, outbound, airline, airport, MICE, hotel, NTO, special product, State, Cruise service provider, travel technology, Tourist transport service provider, charter service provider, VISA facilitation and NGO.