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Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 09 : 00 AM [IST]

Ayanaant focuses on importance of Cruise Tourism and Online Marketing

Outbound Travel Thought Leadership Meet, Ayanaant, explored various aspects relating to Outbound Tourism, promotion of packages, and the scope for development in the segment. Anish V Punnackattu reports the various issues deliberated at the meet
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The Indian outbound segment has been witnessing an annual growth of ten per cent because of increase in disposable income and demand for unique experiences. As a result, many international tourism boards have forayed into India to promote their destination, and enjoy a share of the burgeoning Indian outbound pie. In order to take the momentum forward, Viva Voyages, a Gurgaon-based travel marketing company, hosted its first-ever Outbound Travel Thought Leadership Meet, Ayanaant, at Gulmohar Hall - India Habitat Centre, New Delhi last month. The meet was attended by 150 delegates from India and abroad. Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India; Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI); Stuart Llyod, Acting Publisher, Travel Daily Media Group; and J B Singh, President and CEO, InterGlobe Technology Quotient Pvt. Ltd, were the distinguished guests at the Meet.

ayanaant_2.jpgProf. Manjula Chaudhary, Director, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM); Prof. Manohar Sajnani, Director, Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism; and Prof. S.C Bagri, Vice- Chancellor Himgiri Zee University, were conferred with Award of Honors. Rajji Rai, Chairman & Managing Director, Swift Group and Former President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), gave away the awards. At the meet, delegates discussed four topics through panel discussions. The panel delved into topics like World Wide Cruising, Online Initiatives, Brochure Products, and MICE Planning.

In his keynote address, Dewan said that leadership is essentially getting others to do what you want them to do. “Few leaders conceptualise great ideas and make others follow them, while few leaders follow their role models,” Dewan stated. He cited the success story of Jammu & Kashmir in promoting tourism, and said that normally a good leader senses what his constituency requires and articulates it into a policy to take forward. The Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India is trying to do the same, he asserted.

ayanaant_3.jpgHe opined that India is a very safe and honourable destination for tourists, although the recent gang rape incidents have brought shame to the country's tourism industry. However, it would be inappropriate to term India unsafe. He requested the travel trade to take initiatives to ensure 100 per cent safety to female travellers to India. In order to boost tourism, the Centre has relaxed visa rules and has extended the Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility to nine airports from four. The government has allowed collective landing permits to groups comprising four or more travellers. He added that this move will definitely provide larger benefits to the industry in the long run.  

Singh, in his presentation, said that India is the ninth largest aviation market and will become the fifth largest by 2020. Vikas Khanduri, Managing Director and CEO, Viva Voyages Private Limited, said that they are planning to organise the meet every year due to the overwhelming response they received from participants. Khanduri said, “Across numerous conversations in the industry, we have been listening to an acute need for a Thought Leadership Forum. I am so excited that on this day of summer solstice, the leaders in the industry are converging to raise the level of innovation and thought leadership.”

ayanaant_5.jpgDuring a session on 'World Wide Cruising', moderated by Gopinath Nair, Founder & CEO, Tourism DNA, Ratna Chadha, Chief Executive, TIRUN Travel Marketing and India Representative, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, said, “In order to attract Indian tourists, cruise stakeholders should provide world-class products to their clients. Their products should be excellent in providing cuisines, entertainments, international experience and other requirements of Indian tourists.” She added that to bring an international cruise experience to the Indian backwaters, government has to modulate cruise policies. This modulation will drive investments in Indian backwaters for the promotion of Cruise Tourism. Therefore, industry stakeholders, along with the government, should make way for international cruise operators to invest in India.

Nishith Saxena, Director, Cruise Professionals, said, “India has two options for the promotion of Cruise Tourism. One is river cruising and the other is coastal cruising. The potential of India in coastal cruising is huge compared to river cruising. But, what is lacking is political will.”

Naresh Rawal, Vice President, Sales, South Asia, Russia, Middle East and South Africa, Star Cruises, spoke about the significance of marketing for the promotion of domestic Cruise Tourism. He said that stakeholders should market cruise product in the right manner at the right time. According to Saxena, stakeholders should continue educating and updating the travel trade about cruise products. Chadha added that stakeholders should sell the concept of cruise before the travel trade. Sumit Banerji, Founder and Country Head - India and South Asia, Cruise Masters, said that stakeholders should form an association to market cruises in India.     

The 'MICE Planning' session was moderated by Tanuja Pandey, National Head-MICE, Network 18. Naveen Kundu, Owner, Leisure Tours; Naveen Rizvi, Senior Vice President – India & Head – TUI – Meetings & Incentives, ICE – Integrated Conference & Event Management & Sports Division; and Rajeev Kale, COO – MICE, Cruises & Sports Holidays, Thomas Cook, were speakers. A White Paper, titled 'India's Outbound MICE', was presented to Dewan by Singh at the session.

ayanaant_6.jpgAt the session on 'Online Initiatives', moderated by Rajiv Bajaj, CEO, Tourism Interface & Beyond Basix, Ram Mohan KM, Head IT, Kuoni India, said that the online platform plays a major role in marketing. “It may not sell products, but it will support them to connect with clients. Therefore, travel agencies should continue their traditional marketing strategies along with online initiatives,” he opined.

Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor, said that a seller should find out where he/she wants to use online initiatives for marketing. For that, they should understand where their customers are based and available. They should find out if their clients are friendly to mobile or Internet, or any specific communities.

Vikram Malhi, General Manager, Expedia, South Asia, said that the online space offers huge potential for marketing. “If it targets your customers, it is better to market through online strategies. Before you market through online space, you should know whether this platform is occupied with your target customers or not,” Malhi added.  

ayanaant_4.jpgDuring the ‘Brochure Products’ session, moderated by Ashish Kumar, CEO, Independent Travel Management Consulting Firm, Robin Yap, President – Asia, The Travel Corporation, said, “Today’s customers are well informed. So, when travel agents make brochures, they should include clear information about what customers want to know. The brochures should inspire and educate customers.”

Sanjay Shah, Managing Director, Flamingo Transworld Pvt. Ltd., said that through brochures, a company sells dreams of visiting destinations. Sunila Patil, Director, Veena Patil Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, said that the content is also important if the company is new. “Besides, brochures can be used as a marketing tool in remote areas of India where there is no Internet connection,” she concluded.
 
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