TravTalk - India

Travel Arena gets Czech go-ahead

- Hazel Jain

Out of just a handful of agencies in India to have attained this, Travel Arena is now accredited by the Czech embassy to submit group applicatio­ns via the fast-track mechanism for Meetings, Incentives, Conference­s and Exhibition­s and social event groups travelling to Czechia.

Little did Reena Sachdev, Founder, Travel Arena, expect to win a prestigiou­s agency accreditat­ion by the Czech embassy when she sent one of the biggest groups from India to Prague in 2022. The destinatio­n took note and what followed could prove to be a game changer for Indian travellers as well as Czech Republic.

Sachdev explains, “We did a 40th birthday celebratio­n for an HNI client and one of the 10 biggest families from India in Prague in 2022. The kind of business that the destinatio­n saw at that time gave Czech Republic an idea of the kind of spend that Indian travellers can do in Eastern Europe. Western Europe already knows how important the Indian market is. As a result, Travel Arena received an accreditat­ion from the Czech embassy in September 2023 and is now entitled to submit group applicatio­ns via the fast-track mechanism for M!CE and social event groups travelling to Czechia.”

She adds that only a handful of agents received this. This is a pilot project for a year.

This completely sorts out the Schengen visa issue for business travellers visiting Czech Republic.

She adds, “They realised that the main challenge for Eastern Europe is the visa process. The oftvisited countries in Europe are already aware of this and are doing their bit towards this. But when it comes to Eastern Europe they really needed to buck up. So, it was about time they woke up and smelled the coffee and saw the spending power of Indians. They realised that the first thing they need to eradicate is the delay in visas. So, they developed a programme, starting with M!CE, because Eastern Europe is still seen as a M!CE and events destinatio­n. The embassy decided to have a handful of handpicked agencies like Travel Arena accredited with fast track visa applicatio­n where we bypass the VFS online date system, which is the regular process.” Travel Arena can apply for these visas offline for clients. Slots open every two weeks for Czech Republic.

Her company just sends the details offline and the visa process is done through that procedure. “I see a lot of interest coming in for all Eastern European countries, including Czech Republic. This initiative is definitely going to be a game changer, especially for M!CE clients. This way, they can afford to plan just one month in advance, which is what they usually do. Not just that, there are name changes, so to have this facility encourages us to sell the destinatio­n more. Visas can be applied as less as 20 days in advance. And that is a big promise for any Schengen country.”

Even group of two can apply

You don’t have to be a group of 50 or 100, Sachdev explains.

“You can be as few as two people but it has to be a business or corporate travel or social events. And, of course, the point of entry has to be Czech Republic. They also need confirmed hotel vouchers. We whet the client. We are doing the job of ensuring that the client is genuine, and it is our duty to make sure that the visa is given to the right people and that they are duly exiting the country. In that sense, we have a bigger responsibi­lity of making sure we are sending the right people and a good ROI is going to the country for giving us this advantage. A lot of hotels, agents and corporates have reached out to us after this. So, we are seeing a big increase in demand for the destinatio­n,” she says.

You don’t have to be a group of 50 or 100. You can be as few as two people but it has to be a business or corporate travel or social events

 ?? ?? Reena Sachdev Founder Travel Arena
Reena Sachdev Founder Travel Arena
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