ITB: Cracking deals or brand building?

India’s strong presence of around 50 exhibitors at ITB Berlin 2017 reinstates the importance of international fairs such as these and the growing importance of the European market for India. We ask the Indian exhibitors whether these fairs do translate into business or are they more of a brand building exercise.

PEDEN DOMA BHUTIA

Karan Anand, Head of Relationships and Supplier Management, Cox & Kings, India Travel Award winner
“ITB Berlin for a large company like Cox & Kings is a perfect one-stop shop for all our businesses. This year we have a delegation of more than 25 people from the company attending the mart and they straddle all the spectrum of travel. While it’s not directly a business generating avenue, there are appointments that do later translate to business, but I need to point out that that events such as these are increasingly becoming an opportunity for networking. I foresee that in future those with existing client base and prior appointments will find it more successful to be here”

Rajnish Sabharwal, COO, Ultimate Travelling Camp, India Travel Award winner
“ITB Berlin has been positive for us, we have got bookings out of it. We can’t complain as times are changing, what ITB used to be 10 years back it’s not the same today as now it’s more about prefixing appointments and meeting your target audience. We might not be exchanging cash and bringing in con- firmation and reservations right away, but yes we have contracted with very interesting people. We have showcased India and our far-flung camp areas like Ladakh and Nagaland. We have been pleasantly surprised that the interest in India which was lukewarm before is now bouncing back. It may not be as upbeat everywhere but in spite of the bad press we are doing well, we need good press and need to collectively put up the right front and the right atmosphere.”

Kapil Goswamy, Managing Director Trans India Holidays
“We’ve had a good two days at ITB, we’ve seen plenty of new interest in India and we’ve also witnessed new people come and ask about the destination, which is a very positive sign. India as a destination is generating a lot of interest and that’s great news for us. ITB is a place where we need to be visible but that visibility serves the purpose of meeting your existing clients and setting up a new client database. It’s important for us as it gives us access to the European market. And it’s also a place where we come looking for new business. For us, at Trans India we are looking for people who would be keen to start promoting the destination, we can help them do it.”

Sowmya R Vijaymohan, Founder & Partner, RARE Destinations & Experiences
“I think ITB has been pretty good, though the general reaction of people have been that it’s been very slow. We had some quality meetings on the first day and towards the end of second day meetings have picked up, it was better and busier. We do get a few walk-ins but mostly we come with pre-fixed meetings and these meetings need our time and attention so it can’t be over in just a matter of a few minutes. We need to start working on them way earlier. You’d find two sets of thoughts about the event. Coming from a representation background, for me the idea of being here is to disseminate information and update people about my hotel partners, be it a new routing or a new itinerary, so the platform works beautifully for me.”

Bharat Bhushan Atree, Managing Director Caper Travel Company
More than 10,000 exhibitors have come down to ITB Berlin this year and this is an excellent thing for us as it keeps things very busy here. Even as the world is increasingly seeing a vast change in regime people are very optimistic and are continuing to travel, which is a good point for the travel industry. Globally, since we have partners everywhere, we get tremendous exposure from international marts like ITB and WTM. And since these marts are attended by people coming from every nook and corner of the world, platforms such as these keep one updated on the trends that are prevalent at a particular time. This in turn helps us to gear up for the season, while going into the market.

Rohit Arora, Area General Manager The Park, New Delhi
ITB Berlin is a very well-known forum and we have been participating at this event for many years. This year too we are here to network with our clients. The first day had been good for us, but the second day seemed a little slow. I feel that we may need more push for India as a destination, as it’s not very slack at most of the pavilions. Compared to ours, some pavilions look pretty busy. ITB helps enhance the branding part for our hotels. It’s a very important fair for us. There is no direct generation of business but this forum helps us to establish contact with our client base. Not just that it also provides good networking platform for our existing clients.

Shubhangi N, General Manager- Sales & Marketing, GRT Hotels
I’ve been coming to ITB for the last five years, and I have been meeting my large operators and FTOs who contribute large numbers to our hotels. I’d like India’s Ministry of Tourism to see if we can meet new agents, because that’s not happening right now, that’s where there’s a gap. To grow our business we need new people, at the moment we are fending for ourselves but if the ministry makes an effort on our behalf then that’ll be more effective. For us, we come to market our product, and to know the present market trend and find out more about FIT business. We also need to find out if we are featured in the brochures here, and if we are not then what is the reason for our absence. For us, it’s more of a platform for information gathering.

Ravi Gosain, Manging Director Erco Travels
Day 1 was pretty empty as we were expecting more people to come. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, needs to strategise in the future about participation at such events. ITB is important for us but before visiting, the ministry should do some more publicity, both online and offline. They need to involve more tour operators. The India evenings hosted by the MOT at ITB Berlin is a great initiative but we need to plan well in advance, not just a month ahead but 3-4 months before. We need to also host pre-seminars for tour operators, hoteliers and event companies. We need to generate interest and curiosity about India among foreign buyers. FTOs will come only if there is something new.

Mario Habig, CEO-Inbound Business Le Passage to India
For LPTI and our brands it was a very successful ITB, the quality of meetings was good as well the response towards India where we can see that tour operators have gained confidence again in terms of growing demand for the destination. Overall, large fairs like ITB and WTM are platforms where we can meet on the spot and connect to various operators from across the globe (at ITB it’s mainly operators from all parts of Europe), so it gives you a chance in a very short time to meet a broad agent base and not just for client relationship management but also for client acquisition. We make our starting point here and it helps us to open doors to build new relationships and helps us to work on relationships that are already established.

Rajeev Kumar G, Founder Managing Director and CEO, Mystify
This is our fourth year exhibiting at ITB, it’s not as busy as the other travel shows we attend but the quality of what we see here is great. Being a better focused travel show we find great opportunity that comes to us through ITB. For us, it is very clear that while visibility of the brand is a very important aspect cracking a deal is equally important. We do have certain objectives when we come here and we work towards it. Unlike other shows, ITB is not a platform where one can crack deals without pre-event planning so you have to indulge in a lot of activities before you come here. The better the pre-event activities, the more success you’ll have. How prepared you are depends on the success of the show

Manish C. Palicha, Head Leisure Sales Amritara
So far ITB has been good for us and it has helped to meet all our expectations. The first day was very good, but Day 2 hasn’t been able to pick up, though I don’t really know the reason for that. Not all the people we had meetings with have been able to turn up on Day 2, but overall the experience has been good and healthy. ITB is useful for us as it helps create awareness for our brand, and most importantly it helps us to keep in touch with our old contacts. It is a very powerful networking tool. Even if it doesn’t generate any business, it definitely helps us to generate leads. It opens new doors, we do meet new contacts, the ratio is 30 per cent new contacts and 70 per cent is servicing old accounts.

Mehul Vaswani, Director Hospitality Chokhi Dhani
This is my first time at ITB Berlin and it’s been a great experience so far. The best part about this is that I get to meet the top management guys who are not always accessible in India. I have been to many trade fairs in India but coming in to Berlin is in the international market. Since we are now expanding to international markets like Dubai and London, it helps us to gauge the market and establish new connections. The Europe market is very important for us as foreigners are very attracted to the concept that we have at Chokhi Dhani.

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