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Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 14 : 00 PM [IST]

CentrumDirect: Adding value to the travel business

In order to establish the company as a one-stop shop for the travel trade in the Indian market, CentrumDirect Limited is looking at offering a range of value-added services and wholesale products. While travel agents can continue to focus on their core business like ticketing, CentrumDirect plans to complement their primary business by offering services like foreign exchange, visa services and travel insurance, to fulfill all the travel needs of their customers under a single roof.

Shedding light on this development, T C Guruprasad, MD, CentrumDirect Limited, said, “In the past two years we have shifted our focus to concentrate on travel agents. We are actively engaging with them and undertaking aggressive promotional activities. In 2014, we organised a roadshow – Jai Ho 1, where we engaged with the agents and launched a few schemes. Looking at the overwhelming response at the first edition, we organised Jai Ho 2 this year, which was a bigger success.”

He added, “Our focus is on the Indian travel trade, and we want to establish Centrum as a brand for all travel related value-added services. To enable ease of access and a wider reach, we are also trying to digitise all our assets including visa and foreign exchange by creating an e-commerce platform for all our products. The e-commerce platform will be a one-stop solution for all travel needs like ticketing, hotel bookings, visa related information and services and foreign exchange. A travel agent can make purchases from us on the online platform, and he will be serviced to satisfaction by our team.”



Besides digitising their assets, CentrumDirect Limited has rapidly started expanding its base into cross selling other financial products like travel insurance. “Subsequently, we will follow the OTA model, which will have travel products and services for travel agents,” Guruprasad said.

Our focus is on the Indian travel trade, and we want to establish Centrum as a brand for all travel related value-added services. To enable ease of access and a wider reach, we are also trying to digitise all our assets including visa and foreign exchange by creating an e-commerce platform for all our products


- T C Guruprasad, MD,
CentrumDirect Limited


"We are also coming up with a foreign exchange card (for inbound travellers), which will be sold through third parties, including travel agents. It will be a prepaid INR card, which will be linked to a digital wallet. It will be multi-purpose general card, which is much safer to carry for foreigners. Our airport counters will issue foreign exchange and travellers can keep reloading it from our brick-and-mortar offices," Guruprasad stated.

Sriram Rajmohan, CEO, Centrum Global Visa Services and Director, Club7 Holidays, said, “We want to empower our agents to issue visas. The agent will be at the forefront, and we want to complement them. As far as the foreign exchange business is concerned, CentrumDirect is trying to create an opportunity for the travel trade to extend their offerings.

"We want to try and create footfall for active as well as passive travel agents. For example, there might be a travel agent based in a remote location in India. We can appoint them as a franchisee and they can buy foreign exchange on our behalf. They can also apply for a license to buy foreign exchange and whatever transactions are undertaken on the e-commerce space, we will facilitate them and try to create a footfall for them. There might be 3,000-4,000 travel agents who are active, and maybe 10,000 who are passive. We want to tap both, the active and passive agents. In the current market scenario, none of the agents have the footfalls to buy tickets. With this opportunity, travel agents have the option to offer a range of value-added services to their clients," said Guruprasad.
We want to empower our agents to issue visas. The agent will be at the forefront, and we want to complement them. As far as the foreign exchange business is concerned, CentrumDirect is trying to create an opportunity for the travel trade to extend their offerings.


- Sriram Rajmohan,
CEO, Centrum Global Visa Services and Director, Club7 Holidays Ltd



Rajmohan suggested that Centrum can make a preferential arrangement for the travel agent so that the last mile delivery to the customer can be undertaken at the airports. “We are looking at coming up with more counters at strategic locations, so that service delivery becomes easier,” he informed.

A major chunk of business for Centrum comes through its repeat clients. The company is looking at potential markets of Bihar, Kerala and the North Eastern states where there is an extensive agent network. Also, in these regions, many remittances are being undertaken due to the NRI population transferring money. “We can tie-up with agents in these cities and open shop-in-shop stores at these destinations,” Guruprasad said.

Centrum enjoys a market share of close to 10% and has a leadership position in the sub-segments. “We are the largest company for the pre-paid foreign exchange card,” he added.

Rajmohan said that currently Centrum engages with 500-600 agents pan India, and they are looking at coming up with schemes to increase this 1,000 to 1, 500 agents. Guruprasad informed that the company also offers calling cards and are planning to come up with a travel application.
 
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