Indian Travellers Now Focus on Sports Tourism, Medical Tourism and MICE, Says MadhavPai, Thomas Cook IndiaThomas Cook (Ind...
money with complimentary services, discounts and offers. Indian travelers are also opting for short hauldestinations for b...
markets and consumer segments: from the powerful Tier II & III Regions, the young adventure-lovingadult, the student, the ...
The portfolio of Indian travellers is not restricted to traditional travel, with a focus now on SportsTourism, Medical Tou...
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'Indian travellers now focus on sports tourism, medical tourism and mice,' says Madhav Pai, Thomas Cook India

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Thomas Cook (India) Limited, which began operations in India in 1881, is riding high on its growth of 50 per cent year on year for the last 3 years. TCIL has built a strong channel network of 128 partners and 166 Preferred Sales agents across 100 cities pan India.

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'Indian travellers now focus on sports tourism, medical tourism and mice,' says Madhav Pai, Thomas Cook India

  1. 1. Indian Travellers Now Focus on Sports Tourism, Medical Tourism and MICE, Says MadhavPai, Thomas Cook IndiaThomas Cook (India) Limited, which began operations in India in 1881, is riding high on its growth of 50per cent year on year for the last 3 years. TCIL has built a strong channel network of 128 partners and166 Preferred Sales agents across 100 cities pan India.In this interview with India Tourism Review, Madhav Pai, COO, Leisure Travel (Outbound), Thomas Cook(India) Ltd, tells Sana Mirza about the companys growth during the economic slowdown. He tells us howthe various challenges the Indian travel industry is facing today - the economic doldrums, rupeedepreciation, additional tax burdens, repeated fare hikes and fuel surcharges, tax surcharges, inflation,dwindling growth rates, etc - pose no real threat to the Indian traveler. He also tells us about emergingsegments the company has observed in the Indian travel industry.Can you take us through the growth of outbound leisure travel for Thomas Cook India in the past fewyears?Thomas Cook (India) Ltd had focused on a three pronged strategy of product-service innovation,targeted expansion including Tier II and III Regional markets (via owned and franchise outlets) andexceptional service delivery.We are delighted that our strategy has seen strongly positive results - with growth of over 50 per centyear on year for the last 3 years. Maintaining this impressive growth trajectory in the face of aneconomic downturn, negative consumer sentiments and rupee depreciation, spiraling air fares and tax-fuel surcharges has been indeed noteworthy.How do you rate the current Indian outbound sector? Despite an unhealthy economic climate,outbound travel from India is not expected to be flat this year. What are your views in this regard?The doomsday prophets paint an ominous picture for us: the economic doldrums, rupee depreciation,additional tax burdens, repeated fare hikes and fuel surcharges, tax surcharges, inflation, dwindlinggrowth rates. And yet, in all of this, we at Thomas Cook India are excited, and Ill tell you why.In all the global economic doom and gloom, where tourist source markets are rapidly drying up, India isthat one country that the world is waking up to. More and more National Tourism Boards like Israel,Mauritius and Philippines are making their presence felt; DMCs and Hoteliers worldwide are throwingopen their doors in unprecedented welcome. This spells true opportunity.Despite the economic slowdown, we believe that this is the best time to travel, especially for the Indiantraveler. Though, the prevalent scenario of high air fares and economic slowdown is proving to be ratherchallenging for the tourism industry, it poses no real threat to the Indian traveler.The Indian traveler is always evolving and will not be deterred by the ongoing problems. A growingnumber of Indian travelers are keen on discovering new places! Travel has almost become a must do inthe Indian consumer calendar.Given the price sensitivity of the market in light of the depreciating Rupee and repeated fare hikes,"value" is now of key significance to the Indian traveler; be it luxury or otherwise. Travelers see value for
  2. 2. money with complimentary services, discounts and offers. Indian travelers are also opting for short hauldestinations for budget holidays.Can you tell us about some of the recent trends you have observed in an Indian outbound traveler?Which international destinations have emerged as hotspots?The Incredible Indian traveler is evolving at an unbelievable pace, and creating new and engagingproduct to keep pace with him is a delightful challenge. From see-as-much-as-you-can single trips,Indians are moving to leisurely experiential discovery vacays via mono destination holidays. Besides along summer vacation, we have observed numerous short haul trips too.Travel has moved from the theoretical, to the emotional and personal domain. Exclusive and exceptionalitineraries that call for active involvement and personal engagement are increasingly being demanded.The travel bug has truly bitten the Indian traveler and be it the exotic-unique quotient of destination,accommodation, transport or theme of the vacation, he says "Dil Mange More!"Increased confidence and rather sophisticated palates seem to be the hallmark of the new age Indiantraveler. The standard tour programs no longer interests them- theyve been there and done that. Indiantravelers are developing the streak of explorers in their choice of interest. They are hungry for new,unique, in-depth engagements that are exotic and esoteric in appeal or bring on an adrenalin rush.Media exposure, vibrant new marketing campaigns, word-of-mouth and online reviews further fuel thedemand for off-the-beaten-track experiences. Indulgent spa-wellness breaks, adventure packages,unique farm stays and eco-tours, accommodation as varied as a historical castle or a lighthouse,decadent truffle-cheese-chocolate experiences, Ferrari drives to haute-couture retail therapy.Can you tell us about your partnership with Expedia to offer visa services in some detail?Thomas Cook Indias partnership with Expedia India is yet another initiative in addressing customerneeds via our unparalleled travel expertise and innovative product-service range. Our unique visaservices portfolio is an ideal fit with Expedia Indias online offering and we are delighted to partner withthem.Thomas Cook Visa and Passport Services provide end to end visa related services to Expedia Indiascustomers via an xml based web services. The partnership has enabled registered users ofhttp://www.expedia.in to access visa information by obtaining a unique Expedia ID from Thomas CookIndias Visa and Passport Service Knowledge Centre - a unique and proprietary online visa contentplatform and avail of 24x7 visa assistance services.This service offers updated visa information and downloadable visa application forms through a simpleand easy interface. Also available, is detailed information about visa procedures of the country of travel,documentation and check lists, visa fees, holiday list, consular addresses and processing time for thevisa. Clients booking via Expedia India get end to end 24x7 visa assistance services, pan India, and theadded ability to create and retrieve their visa application online.Tell us about some emerging segments in the Indian travel industry specifically in leisure travel. Howdo you plan to tap these segments?Our Marketing and Product Teams have been busy discovering new emerging and strongly viable target
  3. 3. markets and consumer segments: from the powerful Tier II & III Regions, the young adventure-lovingadult, the student, the woman traveler (moving rapidly from influencer, decision maker to frequenttraveler- with or sans family!), couples and honeymooners and ad hoc group of friends and families.Our Regional Tours are carefully designed with inclusions of a regional tour manager, conversant in theregional languages, regional cuisine, as also brochures printed in the local language. Our Tamil, Marathiand Gujarati Group Tours have been highly appreciated by our regional customers.Catering to the needs of the confident and cosmopolitan Indian traveler, TCIL introduced Self DriveHolidays allowing customers to chart their own course with an easy paced discovery of destinations likeNew Zealand, Australia, France, Malaysia, Switzerland, Scotland, South Africa and Ireland.Another path breaking initiative was the launch of a family holiday by private van, for their exclusiveuse, with a driver cum guide to ensure convenience, comfort and a relaxed vacation. Destinations: USAand Europe.For the first time, a standalone honeymoon brochure was created to reach out to the prospective andburgeoning wedding traveler segment- a plethora of special, exclusive and exotic destinations such asFiji, French Polynesia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, and Mauritius.The religious traveler, although a niche audience, was brought into the TCIL ambit via the launch of ourwell designed Holy Land package for dual countries such as Greece and Egypt.Our planned penetration into the new vibrant youth segment and young adults was undertaken via ourexclusive Rock On products: party-destinations with visits to clubs and party zones; fun and adventure;beaches and rainforests; wilderness and wildlife safaris, Cruise trips; gold and shopping breaks in Dubaialong with an all inclusive value pricing.We offer personalized holidays to look after every component of the trip; from transportation toaccommodation and bookings etc. Our newly launched 48H Holidays (48 hour Holidays) gives our lastminute bookers a neat opportunity- with a promise of delivering an international holiday in just 48hours!Luxury is a resilient market and true of the travel luxury segment too. Given the profile of the emergingnew luxury client, critical brag factor has fuelled demand for travel. We have seen a growth of upwardof 20 per cent for our luxury brand- Indulgence.This HNI-UHNI audience looks for concierge services, esoteric packages and one-of-a-kind experienceswhen booking their vacation- the demand for that elusive wow factor is on the rise.To further pique the curiosity of our discerning travelers who are always on the look-out for somethingdifferent and exotic, weve introduced truly unique experiences e.g. Farm Stays, Cycling Tours, self drivein luxury vehicles like a Ferrari in Singapore, a city tour via a vintage car; Fabulously exclusive and quirkyaccommodation- includes tree houses (e.g. Dubai), snow-dome & house boats in Europe, eco lodges inAfrica.Interest based experiences have been interwoven to offer a unique appeal- Flamenco dance lessons, afighter jet ride in a MIG in Russia, a customized cooking tour in Tuscany, a yacht tour in Capri, nightgame viewing for Safari enthusiasts in Kenya.What recent trends you have observed in the MICE segment for Thomas Cook India? How do you ratethe Indian traveler going abroad for MICE purposes?
  4. 4. The portfolio of Indian travellers is not restricted to traditional travel, with a focus now on SportsTourism, Medical Tourism, MICE and it is giving us even more opportunity as a Trade.At Thomas Cook India we have seen truly impressive growth over the last 5 years - more so in the last 2years. Seen in the light of the negative fallout of the economic slowdown on travel, cost sensitivities andtightening of budgets by most Corporates, our MICE business has seen a superlative performance of 50per cent growth this year and an over 36 per cent growth in the previous financial.To read the full interview visit http://www.indiatourismreview.com/interviews/indian-travellers-now-focus-sports-tourism-medical-tourism-mice-and-it-giving-us-even-mor

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