Piyush Tiwari, Director (Commercial & Marketing), India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), speaks with TRAVTALK on the PSU’s focus on The Ashok Hotel and how they are planning to develop and promote other divisions under its wings.
MICE being a big part of ITDC’s success, how are you working towards promoting the same?
MICE is one of the major focus areas for our hotel business and continues to generate large revenue and bring laurels to The Ashok. Hotel contribution from MICE business is about 12 per cent. The Ashok has a collection of superbly equipped meeting and banquet venues that provide high flexibility and cater to a diverse range of convention and banquet requirements. The Ashok is well equipped to host 300 to 3000 delegates at any point in time. Currently, we are working on providing competitive prices to our clients with no compromise on MICE facilities. We are also in the process of building a holistic environment to become a one-stop destination for MICE needs of national and international travellers, tour operators and event organisers.
What are the other divisions of ITDC that you are focusing on?
ITDC is working hard to improve its overall performance by focusing on each vertical and various initiatives have been taken in this regard. A big push is being given to connect ITDC with new customers especially with younger generation through digital and social media. Steps are being taken to make ITDC website more attractive and user friendly. ITDC has already taken to digital marketing in a big way to connect with new generation of prospective clients as well as to increase its reach through very effective social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. ITDC is introducing special packages/promotions for hotels and ATT division. We have also appointed a digital agency to ensure brand presence and engagement on all important platforms.
Another establishment on which we are keenly working is Ashok Travels and Tours (ATT), an IATA approved travel wing of ITDC, which is also a Ministry of Finance-authorised travel agency for booking air tickets for the officials of Government of India. We have strategic plans in the pipeline to expand the services of ATT. ITDC through ATT has recently signed an MoU with Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), under which ATT will conduct the complete procedure for CGDA to create an e-ticketing platform to ensure smooth functioning of air travel needs on pan- India basis. ATT division is also making its entry into cargo business. Ashok Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management (AIHTM) AIHTM conducts many skill development courses under Hunar Se Rozgar (HSR) and DONER schemes.
We are also in the process of building a holistic environment to become a one-stop destination for MICE needs of national and international travellers, tour operators and event organisers. Our focus is on improving the entire experience by enhancing our venues, sound facilities as well as by providing more experienced and efficient manpower.
Another establishment in limelight is ‘Son et Lumiere (SEL)’, Sound and Light Show Wing under ITDC. In addition to owning two sound and light shows at Purana Quila and Red Fort at New Delhi, SEL division takes up assignment of mounting sound and light shows and monument lighting for various state government departments/ ASI monuments. Recently, the much-awaited light and sound show at the Sun Temple in Konark was inaugurated in collaboration with the State Tourism Department of Orissa. SEL expects to complete the implementation of SEL shows at Dal Lake in J&K, Tilyar Lake in Rohtak, Haryana and Diu Fort at Daman during the financial year. Ashok International Trade Division has opened two more Duty Free Shops i.e. one in Krishnapatnam and other in Kakinada, taking total number of Duty Free Shops at seaport to 11. Efforts are on to open some more outlets during current financial year. AITD intends to have duty free shops in most of the major sea ports by 2018. The Ashok Events Division handled substantial number of major events/ conferences/ exhibitions in India during the year 2016-17 including National Voters’ Day 2017, National Tourism Awards 2014-15, International Buddhist Conclave, International Tourism Mart – 2016 at Imphal, as well as Bharat Parv at Rajpath.
Are you also focusing on promotion of other properties under ITDC?
At present, we are focused on development of The Ashok Hotel and Hotel Samrat. Hotel Samrat is another star property under ITDC which is undergoing infrastructural developments. Renovation is underway for both the properties. Recently, Hotel Samrat re-launched its renovated swimming pool to add to guest experience.