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Friday, 28 September, 2018, 11 : 42 AM [IST]

GPS Kolkata & Kochi- Standing Tall

The 2018 edition of Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) in Kolkata saw a renewed interest from the trade fraternity, especially from the surrounding cities. Organisers of the event believe the Kolkata market has finally matured to the concept of GPS and its format. TravelBiz Monitor offers an overview.

Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) in Kolkata this year from August 2 to 4, like its other series in 7 cities witnessed a full-house turnout on day one dedicated to knowledge sessions. The event also gave a platform to firsttime buyers from the East and North East markets in India to meet with their counterparts and suppliers exhibiting at the event from different parts of the country as well as national tourism boards on a single platform.

According to Harmandeep Singh Anand, Co-Founder, GPS, “GPS Kolkata has matured since its inception. We had 1,000 registrations, and visitors throughout the day for meetings. Last year, we had 900 registrations; however it is not about the numbers anymore. It is about the quality of agents that are participating, and destinations from far and wide that are exhibiting. The GPS app has also matured and well accepted among the trade fraternity.” In fact, Anand believes that the GPS mobile app is a perfect case study for analyzing its effectiveness in connecting so many people at the touch of a button and as well as saving paper.

Moving to 2018, the flagship Nagpur edition of GPS in 2019 will have a slight makeover. The event will begin on Sunday, January 20 with a networking evening and flow into the two-day B2B format. “We are trying this change in schedule to offer an additional touch point for engagements between the exhibitors and buyers. GPS has been incepted to create an opportunity for business interaction among the travel trade from Tier-II & III markets on a single platform.”

Reaching Break Even
For any exhibition to sustain competition and continue to return, year after year, commercial success is paramount. Commenting on this aspect, Raju Akolkar, CEO, GPS, said, “Currently, we are investing in the product and are at a growing stage to gain foothold in the market. In a couple of years, we plan to reach a position where we have different verticals of GPS, and treat each one of them as an independent profit centre. Today, we are still at the building stage and therefore we have been not looking at ROI; however we have reached a point of break even.”

The first year of Kolkata GPS had 650 visitors, and while the 2018 edition recorded nearly 1,000 visitors. “The success across the 8 cities has created confidence in the GPS format and demonstrates its acceptability. While the Kolkata market took 3 years to mature, the maiden Lucknow (over 800 buyers) and Hyderabad (1,300 buyers) editions in 2018 are a success since the launch.”

For the second consecutive year, weather played spoilsport in Kochi for Global Panorama Showcase (GPS). Despite that the organisers could pull out a comparatively good show with over 8,000 B2B meetings and fairly good participation from nearby 40 cities of South India. TravelBiz Monitor reports on the three-day GPS held in Le Meridien Kochi between August 9 and 11.

As the GPS organisers were getting ready for the ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of the 3-day B2B event at Le Meridien Kochi in the morning of August 9, TV screens flashed the news of imminent closure of Kochi International Airport because of Red Alert declared by the government agencies in the light of the opening of Dam gates away in Idukki. By noon, the international airport was closed and flights scheduled to land in Kochi were diverted many nearby cities. Although the airport was reopened after a few hours, the travel plans of many exhibitors and buyers from nearby cities went haywire. That was just a lull, before a big storm, and what was happened in Kerala after August 15 is history.

However, the adverse conditions didn’t deter the organisers of GPS. They went on with their format as scheduled and as usual. The first day was dedicated to knowledge sessions by different partners. Travelport, Silk Air, Genting Cruises, Rail Europe, all gave product presentations. There were sessions on GST, travel technology, social media marketing, etc. as well on the first day.

Speaking on Artificial Intelligence and its relevance in travel industry, Aman Kaushik, Corporate Trainer said that people in the travel trade “get scared” of AI, because they feel it will become another travel agent and take away jobs. Kaushik said that five innovations that are going to change travel are Mobile, Augmented Reality, Real Time Information, Geolocation and Artificial Intelligence. Intelligence is all about processing the data and remembering it. Travel agents do not store data, nor interpret it and talk to their customers based on that.

Earlier, speaking on Digital Travel, Nitin Sachdeva, Founder, Venture Marketing, stressed on investing in digital mediums. He said that India is among the top of the list of countries where people cannot live without internet. The number of smartphone users are expected to touch 700 million by 2020 in India and 80% of them will be consuming content in their regional language. ‘It is important that businesses develop share-worthy content instead of placing ads. Irrespective of the business model, B2B or B2C, one has to master five platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and Instagram.”

The second and third days of the GPS, as usual, were fully dedicated to B2B, buyer-seller meetings. Around 70 sellers participated in GPS Kochi and all of them sounded satisfied with the response irrespective of the adverse conditions in the city and the state.

“I could meet a lot of agents from many small towns and cities which otherwise is not easy to meet and access. They are the people who source business from those smaller towns and cities and send to other parts of the country and the world. So GPS is a good platform to enhance reach and distribution,” said Vikas Sharma, Assistant VP – Sales, The Oberoi Group.

“The flood alert has had its impact on the flow of people into the event. However, those who came are genuine buyers. Usually, we get more leads and business from GPS than any other travel event, because it has good reach to smaller towns and cities where the actual business is,” said Amal Senan, Senior Manager, Tamarind Global.

Trujet, another exhibitor at GPS Kochi also expressed satisfaction in the outcome, “My market is the Tier-II & III cities. Our goal was to connect with agents from those smaller towns and cities. GPS made sense for us,” said K Srinavas Rao, Manager – Sales AP & Telangana, Trujet.

The buyers also seemed quite content with the show. “We have seen GPS growing brilliantly over the last 3 years. Compared to many shows, GPS is a productive show and therefore stands out best in the region,” said Roche Victor, Deputy GM, TravelAir Representations.

“Unlike other B2B events, buyers get enough time to interact with sellers at GPS. This helps us to get in-depth knowledge about the product, which inturn reduces our time in convincing and selling the product to customers. At GPS, we get to meet all kinds of products from Rail to Cruises to big hotel chains, etc. easily,” said B Selvaraju, Managing Partner, SS Travels, Coimbatore.

Even for a couple of exhibitors who couldn’t make it to the venue, GPS helped them with virtual meeting for them with potential buyers. “That was possible because of our strong technology platform and knowledge,” said Harmandeep Singh Anand, MD, GPS. “Despite adverse conditions, there were around 8,500 meetings fructified, which is quite good. The industry here was quite technology savvy and they were able to download the app even before coming to the B2B area. We had 70 exhibitors here in Kochi and they were happy and satisfied about the turnout,” he said.

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