Annual conventions & their relevance
Annual conventions of leading travel associations like TAAI, IATO, FHRAI, ADTOI, are an integral part of the Indian travel business diary. TRAVTALK finds out from some of the major stakeholders of the industry whether these conventions hold any relevance
Conventions pull their weight and are very useful if one treats them as serious business activities, and not holidays. OTOAI conventions have had several agendas that included showcasing products; being at places away from one’s regular offices to discuss topics that are impacting the industry; and also looking at the future. OTOAI members being outbound tour operators, focus on B2B sessions where they get to directly interact with their service providers. The business content apart, the leisure activities also highlight India’s culture. Thus, conventions become an excellent promotional tool.
The convention, exhibition and meeting industry has increased in size and importance due to several reasons. A substantial amount of revenues generated from global travel and tourism industry signals about the increased level of revenues generated from conventions, exhibitions and meetings industry. Conventions provide a common platform for learning, networking, awareness. They are unique showcasing the best of the region – potential for the hospitality industry with offerings of the culture, heritage and customs of the host state.
Conventions have great relevance to maintain sustainable growth of the tourism industry in general. These help create and capture interest and attention; reveal what’s new in the industry; cover a range of topics that demand members’ responsive attention; provide a common platform for debate and exchange of ideas; and specify the outcome of the exercise through recommendations. For 30 years, the IATO Annual Convention has helped to set tourism development on a path that is both competitive and responsible, taking consideration of new challenges. IATO’s achievements through its annual conventions is worthy of being chronicled in a book.
Annual conventions are ideal for networking; exchanging ideas and views; allowing people to imbibe best practices and knowledge through sessions, if they’re of substance. Being able to meet and network under one roof is valuable. Conventions also allow for government participation, which benefits the industry. The conventions have grown in stature but need to stay focused and be more cost and timeeffective. However, there’s no gain in organising conventions in far flung countries, where attendance is limited and it’s more of a jamboree for a few!
Associations’ annual conventions are certainly relevant today, although changing times, evolving markets, and the growing number of associations in India have somewhat reduced the prominence of conventions, compared to the 90’s and before. Today, each association holds its own convention, which may dilute their overall PR effect. Also, the number of travel trade exhibitions that have come up to encourage buyer-seller meets, have diluted conventions’ role. TAAI conventions continue to be relevant and useful, and focus on business sessions promoting destinations. TAAI’s unique advantage is the diversity of its members who champion several verticals that give immense networking opportunities.
Travel associations are and will always be an integral part of the tourism industry. They serve as a useful communication platform to connect with a diverse database of travel agents, and convey key messages to the trade. Reputed associations set a qualitative benchmark. We believe that the next step for these associations would be to evolve in alignment with changing trends, and with a well-defined segmentation targeting specific genres of travellers, like for instance, Virtuoso in the USA.
Sheetal Wadhwa Munshaw Director-India Atout France
Guldeep Singh Sahni India Travel Award winner & President, OTOAI
Ratna Chadha Chief Executive TIRUN Travel Marketing
K. Syama Raju President FHRAI
Pronab Sarkar President IATO
Sunil Kumar President, TAAI