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Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 13 : 02 PM [IST]

The Specialist - Sheema Vohra

Sheema Vohra, President & Managing Director of Sartha Global Marketing, one of the front-ranking Tourism Representation and Marketing Agencies in India, is one of the most successful women in the travel and tourism industry in the country. From her long association with the travel and hospitality sectors both in India and abroad, she articulates that the industry has always accepted women in commanding positions. In fact, she believes that now is the perfect time than before for creative and aspiring women to come and create their own space. P Krishna Kumar spoke to Sheema to understand her leadership mantra.

Sheema strongly believes in the ‘Karma’ theory and more than one’s gender, she firmly believes, it is hard work, honesty, and transparency that yield success in personal and business life. And, therefore, it is not mere coincidence, that when she decided to float her own business venture in 2007, she chose the name, ‘Sartha’, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘success’. “My parents are my role models, and they instilled a great value system based on hard work and honesty. These qualities never go waste in life,” she said when asked about her success mantra.

A hotel management graduate, Sheema started her professional career with ITC Maurya. However, she wanted to hone her knowledge and skills as a hospitality professional, and therefore went to the US to study BS in Hotel Management in University of Nevada. She believes that the eight years she spent in the US, studying and working in different hotel chains brought a drastic change in her outlook.

She came back to India and worked with hotels like The Claridges and The Oberoi Group for a while. In 1995, she along with few like-minded friends started a tourism representation and sales company, which handled global sales for hotel companies like Marriott International. Parting ways, she joined the Marriott group as Director International sales for India and the Sub-continent.

It was the time when a lot of international tourism boards looking for quality marketing and representation agencies in India. Sheema felt a void in the tourism industry of professional agencies that could offer an “integrated solution” to international tourism boards. Therefore, she established Sartha Marketing in 2007. “Lot of tourism boards have come into India by then, and one which was missing was the US. USA was a big opportunity that came our way. As a marketing representation company, Sartha is a one-stop-shop for all things related to marketing for all verticals of tourism like destinations, aviation and hotels,” she said.

“Travel and tourism industry have traditionally been women friendly. The challenges in the industry are not gender specific,” she informs when asked about the initial challenges to get established in the industry. “India had women hotel General Mangers even before many international hotels had women in top management positions,” she says. It’s a service industry where service mentality is quite important, which comes naturally to women, she feels. “There is no learning bigger than travel. The opportunity that gives a women to meet people, interact, network and broaden their horizon of knowledge is vast,” she says. Also, the travel industry is quite sensitive to women and unlike many other sectors; it gives a lot of flexibility to them, she opines. However, she agreed that there is still scope for more women to get into the industry and prove their mettle as entrepreneurs.

Sheema feels that the time is ripe for new entrepreneurs, irrespective of their gender, to come and do really creative things in the travel industry. It’s a fast growing and evolving rapidly globally and therefore there is space for people with “creative ideas” with “right strategies” in place to come and give right direction “understanding the trends”, she says. “Staying relevant is quite important in the travel business,” she stated.

“We are at a very interesting phase at Sartha,” she said when asked about her strategies for the future. “We have a vision where we want to be. We started Sartha with a vision to be a fully integrated agency for everything related to tourism marketing. Keeping that goal in mind, we are keeping our verticals tuned with the market trends here and also with the global trends. This integrated approach is critical to deliver excellent results to our customers. We have a well-balanced team with us. While staying in the same space, we are trying to make sure that we are a well-integrated one-stop-shop for all marketing and representation activities that tourism entities want to do in India,” she stated..
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