Vishal Sinha, CEO, In­dia, Carl­son Wagonlit Travel, talks about his new role as CEO and the growth of the busi­ness mar­ket in In­dia

Micetalk - - Xxxxx - Kan­chan Nath

What is your anal­y­sis of the growth of the busi­ness mar­ket of In­dia?

The sta­bil­ity, growth and the con­fi­dence of the In­dian econ­omy will help boost the busi­ness travel mar­ket in In­dia. The econ­omy is grow­ing at a rate of over 7 per cent, which will fur­ther help in in­creas­ing busi­ness traf­fic. With a fo­cus on costs and driv­ing prof­itabil­ity, a lot of com­pa­nies are look­ing for so­lu­tions to stretch their travel bud­gets fur­ther and CWT is in a strong po­si­tion to help them achieve this by pro­vid­ing state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy, data and an­a­lyt­ics so­lu­tions.

What is the vi­sion that you have for Carl­son Wagonlit Travel (CWT) in In­dia as Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer?

To­day, In­dia has one of the youngest trav­eller pop­u­la­tions in the world, In 2016, nearly 60 per cent of the trav­ellers from CWT's clients in In­dia were mil­len­ni­als, and they ac­counted for close to half of the trips. Mil­len­ni­als – more so than other gen­er­a­tions – ex­pect a busi­ness travel ex­pe­ri­ence that is tech­nol­ogy-driven and more closely re­sem­bles their leisure travel book­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. My vi­sion is for CWT to be the clear leader in cre­at­ing the busi­ness travel ex­pe­ri­ence that the new gen­er­a­tion of trav­el­ers in In­dia ex­pect – an ex­pe­ri­ence that is in­tu­itive, user-friendly and per­son­alised. This is part of CWT's global strat­egy and we are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments to­wards achiev­ing this. In do­ing so, I hope to grow our busi­ness in In­dia con­sid­er­ably over the com­ing months. CWT is al­ready a lead­ing travel man­age­ment com­pany in In­dia and we have a strong track record of help­ing com­pa­nies op­ti­mize their travel pro­grams. We cur­rently man­age travel for close to 200 mid- and large-sized com­pa­nies in In­dia and I ex­pect our client-base in the mar­ket will con­tinue to grow at a steady pace. With our in­dus­try-lead­ing tech­nol­ogy, world class data and an­a­lyt­ics so­lu­tions, and a very ca­pa­ble sales team, I am con­fi­dent we will be able to achieve this.

In ad­di­tion, ear­lier this year we launched 'CWT For You', our state-of-the-art busi­ness travel so­lu­tion for small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) in In­dia. We have al­ready had more than 200 SME clients reg­is­ter for this prod­uct, and we are help­ing them take con­trol of their busi­ness travel spend by giv­ing them the right price for air and ho­tels, and pro­vid­ing them with value added ser­vices like meals, seats and free date changes. Mov­ing for­ward, we will be look­ing to fur­ther grow our busi­ness in In­dia in the SME seg­ment.

How im­por­tant are meet­ings and events to move the com­pany busi­ness for­ward? What are the lat­est trends?

CWT Meet­ings and Events is a key part of Carl­son Wagonlit Travel's busi­ness, both glob­ally and in Asia Pa­cific. While we cur­rently don't of­fer meet­ings and events ser­vices in In­dia, we con­tinue to as­sess the op­por­tu­ni­ties in this mar­ket.

At CWT, we use tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide a seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence for at­ten­dees along with the data and an­a­lyt­ics or­gan­i­sa­tions need to add tan­gi­ble value for both; at the same time, op­ti­mis­ing spend and en­sur­ing in­dus­try and reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance. may out­weigh T&E sav­ings, en­gage­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion of re­mote at­ten­dees can con­trib­ute dra­mat­i­cally to an or­gan­i­sa­tion's goals. By us­ing tools like Face­book's “live” video stream­ing, meet­ings pro­fes­sion­als can have re­mote at­ten­dees par­tic­i­pate in their events. No one is ex­cluded due to ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, at­ten­dees can share the event with oth­ers, two-way in­ter­ac­tions are pos­si­ble, and events can be recorded and fur­ther shared post-event.

What all does a des­ti­na­tion/city need to be top­notch for MICE?

A num­ber of fac­tors de­ter­mine how at­trac­tive a city is as a MICE des­ti­na­tion. Most top-notch MICE des­ti­na­tions around the world have sev­eral things in com­mon – world-class in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties, a safe and se­cure en­vi­ron­ment, an in­ter­na­tional mind­set, and vi­brant cul­ture. That said, meet­ing buy­ers know that sig­nif­i­cant strate­gic think­ing goes into de­ter­min­ing where to hold a meet­ing or event. Some­times lo­ca­tion is pre­de­ter­mined by fac­tors be­yond the scope of the meet­ing. Other times, agenda drives lo­ca­tion. In all cases, price mat­ters. When choos­ing a lo­ca­tion, buy­ers must con­sider all re­lated costs in­clud­ing air

Real-time feed­back is crit­i­cal to a meet­ings or­gan­iser’s abil­ity to make mean­ing­ful changes

Vishal Sinha

The work of an M&E prac­ti­tioner is never re­ally done as tech­nol­ogy im­prove­ments con­tin­u­ally raise the bar on both pos­si­bil­i­ties and ex­pec­ta­tions. Bea­con tech­nol­ogy, with a mi­crochip in at­tendee name-tags to track lo­ca­tion, ses­sion at­ten­dance, ex­hibit vis­its, F&B par­tic­i­pa­tion, traf­fic flow and more, pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to val­i­date pop­u­lar agenda items and to make real-time ad­just­ments to oth­ers, us­ing on­site com­mu­ni­ca­tion ef­forts to drive re­sults. That said, while ba­sic track­ing data is in­ter­est­ing, it may only re­veal what is hap­pen­ing on­site, not nec­es­sar­ily why. Real-time feed­back is crit­i­cal to a meet­ings or­gan­iser's abil­ity to make mean­ing­ful changes both in real-time and for fu­ture meet­ings. Tech­nol­ogy is also now be­ing used to fur­ther en­able vir­tual at­ten­dance. Al­though some up­front vir­tual tech­nol­ogy costs over­all travel, avail­abil­ity of di­rect flights, flight du­ra­tion and fre­quency, weather in­clud­ing sea­sonal is­sues and cli­mate, ma­jor se­cu­rity threats, lo­cal petty theft, traf­fic con­di­tions and ac­ces­si­bil­ity to pub­lic trans­port, F&B, and more.

Why do face-to-face meet­ings mean more busi­ness?

While to some ex­tent tele­con­fer­ence, video con­fer­ence and VoIP plat­forms have re­placed busi­ness travel, th­ese are typ­i­cally for low­par­tic­i­pa­tion meet­ings such as train­ings. In many in­stances, th­ese tech­nolo­gies com­pli­ment rather than re­place busi­ness travel. The adop­tion of video con­fer­enc­ing cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for hybrid meet­ings where or­gan­is­ers bring con­tent to a much wider par­tic­i­pant base.

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