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Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 16 : 16 PM [IST]

IITT 2018 records 30% increase in visitor footfall

L-R:Mohit Mewani, PP Khanna, Guldeep SIngh Sahani, Sunil Kumar, Abraham George, President, Kerala Travel Mart Society, Jaykumar Rawal, Saroja Sirisena, Mahendra Vakharia, Pranab Sarkar, Karan Anand, Jitendra Paul Singh and Manish Gandhi after the inauguration of IITT 2018.

The fifth edition of India International Travel & Tourism (IITT) Exhibition organised from January 11 to 13 in Mumbai went on to record over 30% increase in the visitor footfall as compared to its previous edition in 2017. IITT 2018 was a threeday affair divided into two-days of B2B networking and one-day B2C event held at MMRDA Grounds, BKC. The fifth edition, spread across 20,000 sq mt exhibition area, welcomed more than around 28,000 national as well as international trade visitors which included more than 500 exhibitors and hosted buyers respectively from 20 countries.

IITT exhibition, organised by ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences Pvt. Ltd, is a networking and marketing platform for the travel and tourism industry where under one roof exhibitors ranging from international and national tourism boards, tour operators, hotel chains, airlines, cruising lines, DMCs, etc., showcase their offerings.

IITT 2018 was inaugurated by Jaykumar Rawal, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra who was accompanied by Karan Anand, Head of Relationships and Suppiler Management, Cox & Kings; Jitender Paul Singh, COO, Cox & Kings; Saroja Sirisena, Consul General, Consulate General of Srilanka to Mumbai; Sunil Kumar, President, TAAI; Mahendra Vakharia, President, OTOAI; Guldeep Singh Sahni, Founder & Imm. Past President OTOAI; Pranab Sarkar, President, IATO; P P Khanna, President, ADTOI; Manish Gandhi, COO & Executive Director, ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences Pvt. Ltd., and Mohit Mewani, Exhibition Director, IITT.

IITT saw over 3,000 pre-fixed meetings and two-day panel discussions focusing on key industry issues. On-spot meetings with 260 corporate and 160 wedding planners were also held at the Connect Lounge set up at the exhibition.

Throwing light on the show, Mewani said, “IITT 2018 received positive responses from all the delegates. There was 30% increase in footfall and more importantly the exhibitors appreciated the presence of quality B2B buyers at the exhibition. This year we hosted buyers from Tier-II and III cities of India who conducted serious business with our exhibitors. Also, our overall exhibition setup gained much applauds from the delegates. In association with TravelBiz Monitor we managed to get quality speakers at the five knowledge sessions organised during the exhibition which proved fruitful in sharing important insights of the industry.”

The exhibition, supported by Incredible India saw participation from destinations like Malaysia, Egypt, Maldives, Seychelles and Israel and states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. Sri Lanka was the MICE and Wedding destination partner at IITT 2018 while Indonesia was the feature country. Maharashtra was the host state for IITT 2018 while Kerala was acknowledged as the partner state. Cox & Kings was the platinum partner for the exhibition. The exhibition was also supported by travel trade associations like TAAI, TAFI, OTOAI, ETAA and ATOAI to name a few. OTOAI was also the knowledge partner for IITT 2018.

The other participants were Akquasun Group, Star Cruises, Ark Travels, Club7 Holidays, TBO Group,, Ottila, NCL, Dream Cruises, dnata, Emirates holidays, Marriott Hotels, Air India and Qatar Airways to name a few. TravelBiz Monitor was the Media Partner of IITT 2017.

The sixth edition of IITT is scheduled to happen in January next year at the same venue. Elaborating more on 2019 exhibition Mewani said, “Our target would be to go out bigger and better. IITT 2019 will be over 25,000 sq mt exhibition area and will have more exhibitors than this year.”

Knowledge Sessions
TravelBiz Monitor as Conference Partner to IITT 2018 organised 5 knowledge sessions at the exhibition where senior delegates deliberated on issues concerning the travel and tourism industry worldwide.

DMCs and Tourism Boards nexus… Is this the New Powerhouse a level playing field?
The topic for the first knowledge session on day one was ‘DMCs and Tourism Boards nexus… Is this the New Powerhouse a level playing field?’ The session was moderated by Karan Anand, Head - Relationships and Supplier Management, Cox & Kings Ltd. The panellists for this session were BA Rahim, Group Director, Akquasun Holidays, Ismail Amer, Egyptian Tourism Counsellor in Mumbai, Guldeep Singh Sahani, Immediate Past President, OTOAI, Claudio Zemp, Director - India, Switzerland Tourism and PP Khanna, Member, National Committee of Tourism & Hospitality, CII. The panellist were synonymous in their opinion that synergies need to be developed between Tourism Boards and Destination Management Companies in order to promote and sell a destination more effectively.

Anand started the session by expressing that joint activities need to be developed between tourism boards and DMCs. “DMCs play a major role in popularising the destination along with tourism boards so both powerhouses should work hand-in-hand,” he added. Rahim stated that tourism boards have easy access to tour operators and thus can help

DMCs get good business. He also added that tourism boards should develop this responsibility of letting tour operators and travel agents deal with right DMCs. “Tourism boards promote a destination in India while we as DMCs promote the destination at the destination by rendering quality services,” he added.

Zemp said that education about the destination is important and this is where tourism boards can help DMCs and thus synergies between both of them can be formed. Amer mentioned about the importance of the DMCs in handling the MICE and corporate travellers. “To handle MICE and corporate travellers, sync is a must between DMCs and tourism boards. DMCs are equipped with trained professionals and have quality staff which knows how to handle the needs of big clients,” Amer explained.

L-R: Guldeep Singh Sahani, BA Rahim, Karan Anand, Ismail Amer, PP Khanna and Claudio Zemp at the ‘DMCs and Tourism Boards nexus… Is this the New Powerhouse a level playing field?’ knowledge session.

At the session Sahni said, “Collective marketing of the destination is required for proper promotion of the destination. DMCs and tourism boards should come together as a part of collective marketing and form synergies to better promote a destination.” PP Khanna expressed that tourism boards should focus on the sustainability of the destination while DMCs should concentrate on increasing the business for the destination.

Challenges of the Burgeoning Indian Outbound
The second session on day one of the exhibition was on ‘Challenges of the Burgeoning Indian Outbound’ which was moderated by Manoj Gursahani, President, Visit USA Committee. The panellists for the second session were Sheetal Munshaw, Director - India, Atout France, Mahendra Vakharia, President, OTOAI & MD, Pathfinders Holidays Pvt. Ltd., Sudhir Patil, Founder & Director, Veena World, Amod Thatte, Head - Products & Innovation, B2C, SOTC, Nagsri Prasad, Head - Outbound Holidays, Mercury Travels, Thomas Pappachan, Director - Outbound, Harvey India Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd. and Himanshu Patil, Director, Kesari Tours.

L-R: Thomas Pappachan, Mohit Mewani, Manoj Gursahani, Mahendra Vakharia, Himanshu Patil, Nagsri Prasad, Sudhir Patil, Amod Thatte and Sheetal Munshaw at the ‘Challenges of the Burgeoning Indian Outbound’ knowledge session.

One major challenge that panellists discussed at large during this session was on inefficiencies in visa processing. Himanshu Patil opined that visa processing is a major challenge travellers and tour operators have to face as embassies and consulates are not very co-operative in dealing with the issues of visa processing. “Easy procedures for applying a visa should be implemented and the response rate for visa processing also needs to speed up. For smooth functioning, cooperation is necessary between embassies & consulates and tour operators as this will help us in encouraging the travellers to choose a particular destination,” he explained.

Prasad expressed that to find a right candidate who has the knowledge about the destination and is equally interested in guiding the travellers about the same is quite challenging. She said that there is dearth of trained and educated employees in the industry who assist travellers in getting the best out of a destination.

Thatte threw light on the lack of airport infrastructure in the country. He emphasised that state-of-the-art airports are a must in Tier - II and III cities of India with more flights scheduled to come under UDAN scheme. “In the last few years direct flights to destinations like Thailand, Dubai, Maldives have started from cities like Lucknow, Varanasi, Thiruvananthpuram, etc. With India sending about 50 million outbound tourists by 2020, airport infrastructures need to be improved comprehensively,” he added.

Pappachan said that day to day increase in airfares is also posing a challenge. Due to inconsistent fares travel agents and tour operators are unable to commit airfares to the travellers, especially corporate travellers, he elaborated. Vakharia stated that the outcome of new and unprofessional travel agents is becoming a challenge for the organised players of the industry. He expressed that regulatory bodies must be formed to tackle these unconsistent and unprofessional entrants in the industry. Sudhir Patil joined Vakharia on the problems faced by the old and organised business players by the new entrants. Patil showed concern about how new entrants only focus on making business and not showing any interest towards sustaining the clients making the market more brutal. Patil added that MICE trips which are for shorter duration are also challenging to be organised efficiently.

Munshaw expressed that travellers today are highly informed and at times know more about the destination than the tour operators so it becomes difficult for travel agents and tour operators to meet their needs. She also emphasised that it is important that correct information about the destination is provided to the travellers so tourism boards must work pro-actively to keep the tour operators and travel agents well informed about their destination.

Maximising Alternate Revenue Streams
The opening panel session at the day two was on ‘Maximising Alternate Revenue Streams’ which was moderated by Sriram Rajmohan, CEO & MD, Club7 Holidays Ltd. The panellists for the session were Hariprasad MP, Sr V P & Head Treasury, CentrumDirect Limited, Dev Karvat, CEO- Emerging Markets, Cover-More Group, Jyoti Mayal, Honorary Secretary General, TAAI and Amit Vijay Gupta, Head- Operations, Lyca Telecom. The discussion at this session threw light on the developments across various verticals in the travel industry viz. Forex, Communication and Travel Insurance.

L-R: Hariprasad MP, Dev Karvat, Amit Vijay Gupta, Jyoti Mayal, Sunil Kumar and Sriram Rajmohan at the ‘Maximising Alternate Revenue Streams’ knowledge session.

Hariprasad said that technology has changed the forex market in recent times completely with the advent of strong products like ‘multicurrency travel cards’ which can capacitate over 23 different currencies at one time. With the customers’ evolving reception about the need of travel insurance, Karvat said, “About 15-20 years ago, the customer were being asked if they would opt for a travel insurance where as now travel agents discuss and understand the traveller’s budget, itinerary and then decide the appropriate travel insurance for them.”

Expressing the increasing needs of the travellers, Gupta said that a modern-day traveller wants constant communication channels and entertainment throughout their travel for which cheap international calls, and customised data and voice plans are aspects to be focused on for their efficient and hassle-free journey. Mayal emphasised, the modern-day traveller going individually or in groups is expecting nuances in services and products offered to them by the travel agents than just a mere channel for booking tickets and hotels. She added that travel associations and travel agents should work together more closely to integrally approach a traveller in order to inform and favour them with the value-added services of recent times.

“Taking forward from these three aspects, I think there are other avenues too which we can be added like tying-up with shopping malls, theatre and entertainment locations in the foreign destinations to draw special offers, discounts and coupons for the travellers,” Mayal said while speaking on the future developments in the travel industry.

Exploring the Potential of Domestic Cruising
The second panel session of the day two was focused on ‘Exploring the Potential of Domestic Cruising’, moderated by Carl Vaz, Chairman & CEO, Charson Advisory Services Pvt Ltd. The panellists in this session, namely Ratna Chadha, Chief Executive, Tirun Travel Marketing, Nishith Saxena, Founder & Director, Cruise Professionals, Naresh Rawal, VP – Sales, Genting Cruise Lines, Kunal Sampat, GM – India, MSC Cruises and Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations, Representative of Costa Cruises in India, shared disparate views on the potential of cruise tourism in India, but agreed that India lacks the infrastructure and finance to build indigenous cruise ships.

L-R: Carl Vaz, Nishith Saxena, Ratna Chadha, Manish Gandhi, Nalini Gupta, Kunal Sampat and Naresh Rawal at the ‘Exploring the Potential of Domestic Cruising’ knowledge session.

Rawal started the discussion by stating that one cruise ship brings about 1,000 passengers that in the loop benefits to the hotels, restaurants, MICE services and other products of a destination. Gupta recalled that Star Cruises initiated cruise tourism in India and how the response from the Indian market was impressive. Lack of infrastructure is restricting expansion of cruise tourism in the country, Chadha expressed, “Its not that people don’t want to go on cruise. We don’t have the infrastructure to build cruise ships in India, but we can have foreign partners.” She added that there should be discussions with the government as well where all players should take up soft initiatives first like cruise policies, government-private equity in the development.

Speaking on similar lines, Saxena said, “Combining the cruise ships, we have 900 ships coming in India. However, ship-building business being a good business, we do not have the finances as of now to build an indigenous cruise ship.” Talking on the development Sampat expressed, “By the time the developments take place, the government gets changed. But if these aspects are taken care of, India will rewill receive a multitude of revenue from inbound tourism.” Naresh emphasised, “Cruise staff skill development and other aspects must also be considered by the concerned Ministry.”

TravelBuzz – Power of Big Data – Are we prepared?
The concluding knowledge session of the exhibition ‘TravelBuzz – Power of Big Data – Are we prepared?’ saw Abhijit Desai, Managing Partner, Ekam Consulting LLP as its moderator and panellists, Ankush Nijhawan, Co-founder, TBO & Managing Director, Nijhawan Group of Companies, Jaal Shah, Managing Director, Travel Designer Group, Noel Swain, COO,, Vineet Budki, Founder & CEO, Guiddoo World and Chetan Kapoor, Research Analyst – Asia Pacific, Phocuswright, drawing opulent information on how Big Data has gained momentum since its inception and simultaneously charged in the travel industry, easing the travel operating fraternity’s operations.

Desai initiated the session by saying, “Be it transport, travel and other businesses, Data is the key. Earlier it used to be a one-way traffic, where the travel agent used to serve the customer with what they feel will be apt for the customer, but today the customer has become more demanding, also they do their own research. Here Big Data is the answer to understand and predict the demand of a customer to certain level.”

R-L: Noel Swain, Vineet Budki, Jaal Shah, Abhijit Desai, Ankush Nijhawan and Chetan Kapoor at the ‘TravelBuzz – Power of Big Data – Are we prepared?’ knowledge session.

Desai elaborated saying, “Big Data brings greater personalisation to a business, scalability and adaptability. It also helps us understand what demands are coming from the market and to understand the revenue opportunities.” Swain emphasised that with the increased amount of data in text, images, audio and video format, Big Data has certainly become a culture in organisations that needs to be adopted. Agreeing to this, Nijhawan said, “Big Data was born about five years ago, where in context of the travel agents and tour operators it will help in increasing the sales, applying effective tactics, etc.”

However, the panellists also focused on the point that the data should be used wisely to benefit both the consumers and the businesses. Shah said, “Having correct set of data is always crucial. Forecasting is one important aspect. Having data stored and reaching out to the right people is important.” Similarly Budki expressed, “It’s not about getting data, but to analyse and get results out of it.” Kapoor also posed similar views where he said that Data is not being used smartly. He said that it is fragmented and to get it all together is a difficult process. He also emphasised that India being a price-sensitive market, we click ‘yes’ to almost everything that may draw our private data for some extra services that we get by doing it. Nijhawan also affirmed that the security of data is really important while focusing on the customer recovery. Swain suggested that after analysing the data, if a customer is offered with what they are looking for, this could result in increase in conversions from enquiry.

Desai while concluding the session said that Big Data may help in cross-sell, up-sell and understanding a customer better.
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