Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications, VisitBritain, talks about how important an event like ExploreGB is for them to engage with the travel trade around the world. She says that for them to get more travellers to Britain engaging with the travel trade is the most effective way, especially for a market like India.
PEDEN DOMA BHUTIA
Q What does an event like ExploreGB do for a destination like Great Britain? How does it help you drive tourism to the country? One of our main drivers for the event is to get people to explore more of Britain. London is a global city that’s very well-known, but we want to send tourists across the nation and regions. Particularly in markets like India we do that by getting products in the brochures of the Indian travel trade. This is a real opportunity to bring Indian buyers over and showcase all the attractions and hotels that they can think about packaging. We then take them around the country and show them the various destinations so that they can get a first-hand feel of it. But I don’t think that’s enough, so what we need to do further is it tie it up with a bow almost and give them something that can be booked in their brochure. We have lots of great attractions and hotels but we need to make it easy for the Indian travel trade to make that a sellable product. We are known for our inspirational marketing, like the whole OMGB campaign is very popular, but we need to make sure that we can support the trade so that they can sell behind that campaign.
Q India is still a traditional market, even as there might be a rise in online bookings nut people would still it easier to book holidays through a travel agent. How are you engaging with the travel trade? We’ve appointed a new country manager – Vikas Sheth and he’s based in Mumbai and that’s a reflection of the fact that we appreciate the fact that we need to work more closely with the trade. We’ve just done our mission which is looking outside the major cities in India, mainly the Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where we hold trade engagements. Our intermediaries have just been taken over by a new director, who’s reviewing how we engage with the trade, how can we support them and what we do with programmes like Britagent that we use to broaden and increase the knowledge of the agents and how do we take it into the next phase and make that useable and supportive of the international trade, so, there is lot of work going on, recognising that we want to get more people to our country and the way to that in India is absolutely to work with the travel trade.
Q Recently the UK and India have signed an agreement to increase air connectivity between the two countries. How much of a change will that bring about in terms of visitor arrivals for you? Any Indian cities that you’d like them to fly? Connectivity absolutely underpins whether people travel to a destination. We have traditionally worked in India not just with British Airways but also the Middle Eastern carriers who have great regional connectivity into India and Britain and it’s worked both ways for us. The flight increases are opportunities for us of really focusing on those cities and our strategy in the future would be much more city based rather than country based. It is an acknowledgement that you are drawing people from the regions to really go to the airports and get on those flights. I’m very happy to follow the commercial judgement of the airlines of which cities they’d like to fly to.
Q How has 2016 been for you vis-à-vis the Indian market? We see historic growth from India, in 2015, we’ve seen visits up 8 per cent and a spend of almost £433 million. India is a solid market for us, the attraction of the Indian market is that they tend to have good regional disbursal and they tend to stay long so this is a market that sees a strong growth. The increased investment into India recognises the fact that it’s a good growth market.
“We see historic growth from India, in 2015, we’ve seen visits up 8 per cent and a spend of almost £433 million. India is a solid market for us, the attraction of the Indian market is that they tend to have good regional disbursal and they tend to stay long so this is a market that sees a strong growth.
– Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications, VisitBritain