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.

Buyer confidence in Fiji remains high

Fijian Tourism Expo, Buyer confidence in Fiji remains high, Fijian Tourism Expo 2016, Fijian Tourism Expo, Buyer confidence in Fiji remains high, Fijian TourismBuyer confidence in selling Fiji as an aspirational destination for business and leisure travel remains high, after Tourism Fiji closed registrations for international buyers and travel trade media for the third Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) to be held in Denarau next month.

FTE 2016 has attracted over 160 international buyers and travel trade media and a number of them will be selling Fiji for the first time, specifically from long-haul markets which are now more accessible with Fiji Airways’ opening up the Singapore route.

Fijian Tourism Expo, Buyer confidence in Fiji remains high, Fijian Tourism Expo 2016, Fijian Tourism Expo, Buyer confidence in Fiji remains high, Fijian Tourism

The recent devastation caused by natural weather events has not deterred quality buyers from Fiji’s traditional, new, and non-traditional tourism markets from as far as Italy, Pakistan, Spain and Sweden.

“Buyer confidence in Fiji remains consistently high and this is evident after Tourism Fiji received 148 buyer and 14 international media confirmations to attend Fiji’s premier tourism industry event,” Tourism Fiji’s Global PR Manager, Ms Patricia Mallam says.

“The last two months have been challenging for the tourism industry but we at Tourism Fiji have kept our guards up and continued to work behind the scenes to bring in the best people from all over the world to be part of FTE 2016 for the benefit of our industry and its stakeholders,” she says.

The international buyers and media are qualified by Tourism Fiji’s Regional Directors based in Tourism Fiji’s key source markets and in consultation with Fiji Airways, the Platinum Sponsors of FTE 2016.

“The programme for the three day expo is custom-made and prepared based on the feedback from participants in the first two event. It is kept compact to enhance B2B opportunities, promoting a win-win situation for everyone attending FTE,” Ms Mallam says.

She adds that FTE 2016, “will offer enormous networking opportunities during the evening networking events for connections with peers within the industry, decision-makers, buyers and exhibitors from all over Fiji.”

FTE 2016 will be held at the Denarau Island Convention Centre from 3-5 May 2016.

Deccan Odyssey: Romance India by Rail in 2016

Each journey on the Deccan Odyssey is an exploration of India’s diversity, exotic locales and discovery of her timeless traditions; where you breathe in the vibrancy, sounds and colours of India’s cities and her countryside. Mysteries, intrigues unfold as the train snakes her way through royal cities showcasing the opulence and extravagance of the palaces, the traditions and culinary wonders of cities and villages well protected from the sands of time.

 

Deccan Odyssey, Deccan Odyssey train, Deccan Odyssey luxury train

In 2015, Deccan Odyssey won a string of awards and amongst them are the World Travel Awards for Asia’s leading luxury train and The India Travel Awards for the Best luxury train in India.

The Deccan Odyssey gives you an unhurried and intimate introduction to the grandeur of India.  The traditional is beautifully juxtaposed with the contemporary through vintage cabins, gastronomic cuisines and lively off-board entertainment in each of the deluxe train journeys. Each journey on the Deccan Odyssey is an exploration of India’s diversity, exotic locales and the discovery of timeless traditions. Each journey on the Deccan Odyssey is an exploration of India’s diversity, exotic locales and the discovery of timeless traditions.

Deccan Odyssey insight

Cox & Kings Ltd ,the company which operates it has announced an enticing offer for journeys commencing October 2016.

The offer includes a 7-night journey at the price of 6 nights and would only cost US $ 7188 per couple, per journey, instead of US $ 8386. This also includes a complimentary 60-minute spa session for a couple. The train has been refurbished to reflect the changing needs of the new age traveler. The offer is limited to bookings done on or before 30th April 2016. The early bird offer is to pay for six nights and seventh night is free.

The Deccan Odyssey train boasts of unique features and amenities such as 24*7 Wi-Fi connectivity, cell phones & LCD TVs in every cabin, spa, gym, beauty salon, doctor on call, two restaurants and a bar. Deccan Odyssey has 21 coaches, out of which 12 are passenger cars that can accommodate 8 people per coach (10 passenger / deluxe Cars, 4 coupes per coach – 2 Presidential Suite Cars, 2 coupes per coach), 1 Conference/Entertainment Car, 2 Dining Cars, 2 Generator Cars with Luggage Store, 2 Staff Cars, 1 Spa Car, 1 Bar Car. The capacity of the train is 88 passengers.

Deccan Odyssey 2

The Itineraries set are:

Maharashtra Splendour: (Mumbai – Nashik – Aurangabad (Ellora Caves) – Ajanta Caves – Kolhapur – Goa- Ratnagiri –Mumbai) 7N/8D.

Hidden Treasures of Gujarat: (Mumbai – Vadodara – Palitana – Sasan Gir – Little Rann of Kutch – Modhera (Patan) – Nashik – Mumbai) 7N/8D.

Indian Sojourn (Mumbai – Vadodara – Udaipur – Jodhpur – Agra – Sawai Madhopur – Jaipur – Delhi) 7N/8D.

Indian Odyssey (Delhi – Sawai Madhopur – Agra – Jaipur – Udaipur – Vadodara – Aurangabad (Ellora Caves) – Mumbai) 7N/8D.

Jewels of the Deccan (Mumbai – Bijapur – Aihole – Pattadakal – Hampi – Hyderabad – Ellora Caves – Ajanta Caves – Mumbai) 7N/8D.

Maharashtra Wild Trail (Mumbai – Ellora Caves – Aurangabad – Pench (Ramtek) – Tadoba – Ajanta – Nashik – Mumbai) 7N/8D.

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.

 

Ananda in the Himalayas wins Favourite Destination Spa 2015

Ananda in the Himalayas has been accredited with the Favourite Destination Spa as Condé Nast Traveller India, the Last Word in Travel, announced the winners of the fifth edition of its Readers’ Travel Awards last week. This is the property’s third win from the 5 seasons hosted for the publication’s readers to nominate their favourite properties.
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“This award is very special to us as we strive for excellence in everything we do. To be acknowledged by people who are aware of the worlds’ offerings and who opt for Ananda in the Himalayas, time and time again, is a humbling feeling. To win the Favourite Destination Spa by Conde Nast Traveller India’s readers is truly an honour.,” said Nikhil Kapur, General Manager of Ananda in the Himalayas.

Readers of Condé Nast Traveller India voted for their preferred Destinations, Airlines, Hotels, Spas, Airports and more, across 27 categories, based on their personal experiences. This was through questionnaires inserted in copies of the June—July 2015 issue of the magazine, and simultaneously posted online at cntraveller.in for the same period. The replies were collated and analysed by an independent market-research company. The winners were determined after being scored on several parameters unique to each category