Biz travel needs rep­re­sen­ta­tion

Con­clud­ing its con­fer­ence in Mumbai this Oc­to­ber, The Global Busi­ness Travel As­so­ci­a­tion (GBTA) has al­ready planned to con­duct three an­nual conferences in 2018. Gau­rav Sun­daram, Re­gional Di­rec­tor, In­dia, GBTA, re­veals more.


QWhat have you planned for 2018? We in­tend to con­duct three large an­nual conferences next year – in Delhi, Mumbai and Ben­galuru, which are the three pri­mary hubs for busi­ness travel. We are not likely to repli­cate the work­shop se­ries that we did this year. We are also look­ing at in­tro­duc­ing pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment in busi­ness travel through the GBTA pro­grammes of cor­po­rate travel ex­perts and ad­vance­ments in global travel pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in In­dia. Here, we in­tend to cus­tomise the con­tent for In­dia through our national net­work of both off­line train­ing cen­tres as well as on­line self­learn­ing pro­gramme. We are also plan­ning to look at strate­gic meet­ing man­age­ment as an area of ac­tiv­ity.

QIs there a lack of ed­u­ca­tion on busi­ness travel in In­dia? Yes, there is. Firstly, there is no in­dus­try body in In­dia yet that rep­re­sents busi­ness travel apart from GBTA. TAAI and TAFI as­so­ci­a­tions don’t fo­cus on busi­ness travel at all. There is no ad­vo­cacy on busi­ness travel is­sues with the gov­ern­ment. There are sim­i­lar chal­lenges with air­lines and var­i­ous other op­er­a­tors. There is clearly a need for ed­u­ca­tion and a need for rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of cor­po­rate travel buyer and in­dus­try.

QWhat did this GBTA Con­fer­ence 2017 in Mumbai fo­cus on? We had re­search pre­sen­ters, a CXO round-ta­ble which was very well-re­ceived last year, as well as a panel on GST, among other things. We con­ducted a ses­sion on GST even in Delhi this Au­gust but it fo­cussed more on the logic be­hind GST, the over­ar­ch­ing prin­ci­pals and val­ues and what the in­dus­try should be pre­par­ing for. In Mumbai, the ses­sion fo­cussed on the op­er­a­tional aspect of GST and how it im­pacts busi­ness travel.

QIs there a lit­tle more clar­ity on GST now as far as busi­ness travel is con­cerned?

Yes and no. There are cer­tain stake­hold­ers in the in­dus­try who are not will­ing to come for­ward and ver­balise, like air­lines for in­stance. They seem to be very ret­i­cent on shar­ing any­thing to do with GST. We in­vited a travel man­age­ment com­pany as well as ma­ture busi­ness travel buy­ers in Mumbai who shared in­sights on the topic dur­ing the con­fer­ence. How­ever, GST is still a work in progress.

QHow strong is your mem­ber­ship base? Currently, we have about 110 mem­bers in In­dia. When we started last year, we had just about 20.

The In­dian mar­ket is used to get­ting com­ple­men­tary items. We don’t of­fer free mem­ber­ships. It is based on an an­nual fee and it is in­di­vid­ual; that ini­tially posed a chal­lenge but we tell them that we of­fer them a lot of value. We charge the same fee as we do in the US.

QHas 2017 been fruit­ful for you so far? Most def­i­nitely. In the first half of 2017, we con­ducted five GBTA work­shops – Mumbai, Ben­galuru, Noida, Gur­gaon and Hy­der­abad – that were at­tended by about 400 peo­ple in to­tal. Of this, about 60 per cent were cor­po­rate buy­ers. We then held our first an­nual con­fer­ence in Delhi in Au­gust 2017 which was at­tended by 225 del­e­gates. This was fol­lowed by one in Mumbai in Oc­to­ber 2017 that wel­comed more than 250 at­ten­dees.

Gau­rav Sun­daram Re­gional Di­rec­tor In­dia, GBTA

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