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Friday, 27 January, 2017, 15 : 56 PM [IST]

GPS Nagpur, Towards a Digital Future

After spreading its wings across four cities in 2016, Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) returned to its home base of Nagpur with a larger portfolio of new exhibitors and a substantial increase in buyer participation. Moving towards a greener future, the organisers ensured the event was paperless by integrating the GPS mobile app with a host of options. Disha Shah Ghosh offers an overview.

In sync with the Central government’s plan to adopt digital technology across different sectors of the economy, the 2017 Nagpur edition of the Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) took a major leap to become a paperless B2B travel marketplace. The acceptance of the GPS app was evident with over 2,000 downloads on first day of the event. The app offered entry to the business sessions, B2B meetings and networking dinners, thus ensuring delegates were updated about the event in real time.

Moving a notch higher, the six interactive business sessions at GPS witnessed a record turnout of participants with more than 450 delegates at some sessions. However, it was the session on GST by CA Manish Gadia that saw a full house listening with rapt attention to the recent amendments in the Service Tax and CENVAT Credit slabs. This session gave the agents an estimate of the business scenario once the higher tax slab of the GST regime will be put in action.

Business at GPS Nagpur
With a clear focus on B2B interactions, GPS Nagpur was restricted to exhibitor-buyer meetings over a table-top format unlike the B2C day of the previous editions. The B2B session was inaugurated by Satinder Pal Singh Ahuja, Hon. Consul General of Georgia for Mumbai and Maharashtra; Dr Y Mohit Kumar, Advisor to Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra; Marzban Antia, VP, TAAI; Jasbir Singh Anand – Founder Chairman of Jagsons Travels Pvt Ltd; Gulshanpal Singh Anand – Chairman of Global Panorama Showcase (a division of Jagsons Travels Pvt Ltd); Harmandeep Singh Anand and Rishiraj Singh Anand, Co-Founders, GPS; SanJeet – Co-Chairman, FICCI & PATA  in the presence of Raju Akolkar, CEO, GPS and Executive Directors Ankush Nijhawan, Madhu Saliankar, Mohit Deshpande and Tanushka Kaur Anand by lighting the traditional lamp.

The two-day B2B session on January 20 and 21 at Hotel Centre Point saw 108 exhibitors showcasing over 180 products and services to nearly 1,000 buyers. There was a turnout of 200 hosted buyers, along with participation of 800 buyers from nearby destinations like Gondia, Chandrapur, Amravati, Akolka, Yavatmal, Wardha, Bhandara, to name a few.

Talking about the event, Raju Akolkar, CEO, GPS, said, “In its fifth year, GPS Nagpur has elevated its position as a premiere trade show where members of the travel industry have realised that it is not a local marketplace, but platform catering to agents and operators in Tier-II and III markets across India. Having moved out of Nagpur to four other cities in India last year, members of the travel fraternity have realised that GPS offers ample opportunities for knowledge sharing, interactive meetings and networking. As a result, trade members from states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, regions like Marathwada and Vidharbha and cities like Khandesh, Nashik and Pune are participating in GPS Nagpur. During the two B2B days, the event saw 20,000 meetings between exhibitors and buyers.”

Upbeat by the trade participation during the knowledge sessions as well as B2B days, Harmandeep Singh Anand, Co-founder, GPS said, “We were expecting 300 participants to attend each session, but some of the sessions witnessed more than 450 delegates. With this edition of GPS, we have placed Nagpur on the global map with delegates travelling from across India just like cities that are known over the world for hosting MICE events. Hotels in Nagpur have witnessed record bookings since there is large number of outstation delegate participation. Also, 75% of the agents at GPS Nagpur are first-time participants, which clearly show how the event has opened an entire new market for business.”

GPS: A Digital Platform

Since this was the first time GPS adopted a paperless format, there was an initial reluctance from the participants. But eventually, delegates were seen engaging with the app to get an overview of the event and supplier information. Talking about this, Anand said, “Since Digital India is the future, we decided to move completely to the digital platform from GPS Nagpur onwards. After a humongous wastage of paper last year, we realised that it is time to revise our format. Therefore, we developed the GPS mobile app, which is easy to use, informative and offers real time access to sessions, meetings and exchange of information. In the coming months, we are looking at incorporating the option of mobile handshake to share information and allow scheduling of meetings. We are planning to incorporate video conferencing facility through an icon within the app.” Any venture that adopts automation, there is an initial skepticism from the end user, Akolkar said, adding, “but eventually participants have realised that the GPS mobile app is for the betterment of the industry.”

Ankush Nijhawan, MD, Nijhawan Group of Companies, said, “People in India shy away from technology initially, but eventually participants are embracing technology, and it is a noteworthy development. The GPS mobile app is user-friendly and we are confident that advanced global trade platforms would follow suit. Since GPS has clearly positioned itself as the premiere marketplace for the Tier-II and III cities, it has brought immense value for exhibitors and buyers. Having received positive feedback and some suggestions, we are looking forward to the other editions later this year, especially in the untapped market of South India.”

While GPS Nagpur 2017 brought to the fore 70 new exhibitors, the upcoming five editions in Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Kochi and Pune would be crucial for the organisers to maintain the profile that they have managed to create this year. Since Kochi and Pune are the new grounds for GPS, it would be an opportunity for the trade members in these cities to gain knowledge about new products and destinations they are yet to be showcased on a large scale in these markets.

Exhibitor Feedback

Manoj Singh, Country Head – India, Norwegian Cruise Line
GPS Nagpur 2017 went a step further by adopting digital technology through their app and I appreciate such milestones. Secondly, the increase in number of buyers only proved the success of the show.

Manoj Upadhyay, Head Sales India, ClubMed
I met some new potential travel agents and tour operators at GPS Nagpur. We are now hoping to convert enquiries into bookings in the coming months. Also, the format of going digital is a good initiative by GPS towards a greener future.

Sujit Nair, Founder & Group MD, Akquasun Holidays Pvt. Ltd
GPS is a productive platform for a DMC like us. This year’s edition has been better than last year. We saw a plethora of new exhibitors as well as buyers attending this edition. The session on GST was necessary with the current revision in Service Tax slab. Hopefully, with GPS on the Move, we will continue to meet new agents in all cities.

Sudhir Patil, Director, Veena World
We had received a positive feedback of the past three editions of GPS, and therefore we decided to participate this year in Nagpur. The GST session was very informative and the event offered good networking opportunities.

Buyer Feedback

Jugal Ray, Founder Director, JASSNOW Hospitality Services Pvt. Ltd.
GPS Nagpur turned out to be an educational programme as well as an interactive platform for me. The GST session will be instrumental and I am impressed with the profile and quality of exhibitors that I met.

Ajay Chhabria, MD, In-time Travels
GPS Nagpur was an event where I could spend quality time over one to one interaction with exhibitors. Three of my client issues were sorted out on the spot. It was a fabulous decision to come up with the app, which is very interactive and I could connect with new players.

Manoj Phulphagar, Manager, High Fly Travel & Trade
This was my second year of participation at GPS Nagpur and I am happy with the turnout. The exhibitor portfolio was different from the last year with majority of new suppliers, many of them dealing in FITs, which appealed to me. I am hoping the edition in Pune would be equally exciting.
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