Incredible India was surely a force to reckon with at WTM London this year. While the focus was increasingly on networking and building relationships, the Indian participation at the event was indicative of the importance of the UK market in India. The Indian contingent shares its views on the event.
PEDEN DOMA BHUTIA FROM LONDON
Dharmendra Sharma, Chief Secretary, Government of Goa
WTM is a one-of-its-kind mart. I don’t have a benchmark comparison of how WTM has evolved over the years but I have been made to understand that earlier it was a four-day mart and now it is a three-day event. For Goa tourism, we have been associated with WTM for a very long time. We went outside the India pavilion and took our own space way back in 1996. It’s nice to see that our travel partners, who would primarily use our space earlier, have now grown to have their own stalls. Our presence here makes a difference; UK being an important market, the presence at WTM is important.
Chhavi Bharadwaj, Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation
The first day opened phenomenally! We had lots of good appointments with travel operators, bloggers and travel advisors based out of Europe. We’ve be been looking to promote our heritage destinations, our wildlife itineraries, natural wonders and cultural products. We’ve been able to promote our itineraries very well with the operators based out of Europe and we followed that up with a roadshow in Paris on November 9. We also did a 15-day roadshow in the USA in the later part of November, we look forward to converting these appointments into business. From November 21 onwards, we went to the US where we attended USTOA and until December 11 we had roadshows across five destinations in the US. We recently concluded the MP Tourism Mart, where we tripled the number of buyers and sellers. We were able to sell newer products along with having productive, one-on-one meetings with our partners.
Kingshuk Biswas, Manager Marketing & Investment, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat
For us, Day 2 was much more exciting than Day 1, as the first day was slightly lukewarm in response. The UK is an important market for us, hence WTM in that way is an important event for us and not only does it give us access to the UK market, but also gets us in touch with the European market. The three-day format is good for any exhibition. In Gujarat, the interest of the people has primarily been on niche areas like handicrafts and the white desert, people want to find a different aspect of Gujarat, which they don’t see in other states. The novelty factor is what piques their interest. The wellness factor is also catching up, earlier we didn’t have people inquiring about these products fields but gradually the interest is gaining hold.
Jehangir Katgara, Chairman and Managing Director, Trail Blazer Tours India
Every year WTM seems to be growing. However, we also get to hear about the dwindling footfalls at the mart, but the footfalls don’t bother us as we come with appointments in advance, so as long as you meet the people you want to make business, we don’t have any issue. If one expects to get investment out in one shot, then it doesn’t work like that; it’s a long-term affair. How can one attribute marketing to ROI? We can’t measure it in strictly those terms, it may happen this year or next year or after two years. The inbound industry seems to be doing pretty fine, and while the government does say that they are taking a lot of initiatives, but they need to do more when it comes to really helping out agents in issues like GST.
Meenu Sachdeva, Managing Director & Co-Founder, TI Infotech, India Travel Award winner
As far as WTM this year is concerned the footfall has seen a dip compared to last year. Though people fix up meetings, they don’t show up, hardly 50-60 per cent of the people who fix up meetings through the portals turn up. But walk-in customers have been there and we have got some good leads coming our way. This is the reason we are happy with our participation at the event. My only request to the oragnisers is that they should not look at relocating our stands every time and they should allow us to showcase at one place. If we have been exhibiting for the last 9-10 years we should at least be given the preference to choose the stand position which is to our liking. They should consider the consistency that a client is maintaining of participating at WTM. I’m hoping that with technology getting a separate stand from next year we are able to get a higher footfall.
Bharat Bhushan Atree, Managing Director, Caper Travel Company
World Travel Mart 2017 was a great platform to interact with new agents from countries we are setting foot in. Being one of the most popular and oldest travel exhibitions, WTM is a reputable exhibition to make one’s presence known, it adds to brand credibility and also provides a platform to meet your partners and associates from across the world. WTM is not just a networking platform, but a place to make the acquaintance of new agents, close the contract and also associate with co-exhibitors. Caper is a part of many exhibitions globally and most of these fairs have adapted to the changes in the market and the trade.
Jaal Shah, Group Managing Director, Travel Designer Group
WTM has been great for us, it’s always been a good show for us, no wonder we are in the eighth year of our participation. The timing of the mart is perfect as it comes around the end of the calendar year so that makes it significantly important. Before you start the new year, it helps you to get in touch with your partners and plan the coming year. For us, we have two takes when we participate anywhere, one important point is to buy, we have contractors who come here and sit so we need that space. There’s no straightforward ROI on the number of hotels we buy and sell, but it also gives us an opportunity to meet some of our customers and partners. The second and third days have been busier than the first day
Senthil Kumar, Group Chief Financial Officer, Red Apple Travel
Nowadays, with the increasing number of travel marts happening around the world, you keep meeting the same kind of people. At the same time, it helps us meet other customers and sometimes your own team coming from all over the world. This helps us do our team networking with internal and external customers, thereby helping companies to create brand awareness and showcasing their products and services to the travel community. The second day is the real business day while first and third days are very slow. Even out of three days, only the second day is effective. We generally meet the same kind of people at various travel marts happening around the world. This might be better for customers based in that region as sometimes you do get serious business but it’s now more about creating brand awareness. It also helps us identify new trends in travel technology, so it’s more about value addition.
Roma Sojitra, Vice President- Pre-Sales, Mystifly
The concept of WTM being a three-day mart works out well for us, it’s short, sweet and we get qualitative leads apart from meeting our present customers, which is an add-on. WTM is one event that we religiously participate in every year. In terms of existing customers, we have had new dialogues. We’ve seen that Day 1 has been more productive, though the rest of the two days were also great, as we had a good footfall. The other thing that has changed this year is the new tech shows that are absolutely brilliant. I attended three of them and all were very insightful. I have heard they are planning some more next year and I’m looking forward to it. Now, Mystifly as a brand has grown enormously and everyone knows about us. It helps us in terms of just being here at the right time so that people can come speak to us face to face and we take it forward with e-mails. It’s also about building relationships.
Ruchir Bang, Executive Director, roomsXML Solutions, India Travel Award winner
WTM historically has been a very good show for us. We’ve been participating here for almost a decade. It gives us a good platform to meet our existing partners and connect with some new customers. It’s a good way to network with people in one central location. For us, it’s more of a networking opportunity, but one thing leads to another. It’s difficult to measure the ROI, I can’t calculate how much business we derive out of the show but over a period of time you consistently meet people and develop and work upon these opportunities and then business follows. The format has been the same, but I’ve heard from next year, they will be having a separate section for travel tech companies, let’s see how that works out.
Swadesh Kumar, Managing Director, Shikhar Travels
I’m coming to WTM after 10 years and I have witnessed that there has been a lot of change. Now they have a special buyers’ meet in the morning for an hour, I attended one of those and found it to be very helpful and productive. For people who want to do serious business, it’s a good attempt to meet the focused marketing agents and a perfect platform to go and meet the right people. Having come here after such a long time, I have realised that change is a good thing and now I see that a lot of young people have come in and with them, they bring along new ideas.