Elation over offline TAFI meet

As TAFI gets ready for its first convention since 2018, Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI, discusses the knowledge sessions planned over three days and its J&K Chapter that has received 20 member applications.

Hazel Jain

There is palpable excitement, says Ajay Prakash, President, Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI), as he discusses the upcoming convention. “The enthusiasm is remarkable because our convention is happening directly after 2018. The destination is interesting as well as it is a relatively unknown destination for the Indian travel trade. We opened registrations for the convention on August 5 and within just two weeks we received over 400 registrations already. However, seats are limited and we are not taking more than 500 people. We are also very clear that we are only taking members who are actively involved in the trade and of course the first preference is for our members,” he says.

An interesting spin-off, Prakash adds, is that there are several travel agents who applied for TAFI membership because they wanted to be a part of the convention. “So perhaps a convention is a great way to boost membership!” he jokes.

Exciting sessions ahead

TAFI is looking to have interesting sessions. Prakash shares, “We need to start talking about some of things which we have all learned from the pandemic when we did have time to think. Therefore, the theme – Build Back Better – is something that we must explore in detail during our knowledge sessions. We will have people who have built back brands after Covid and who have re-invented their businesses so they can share their experience with everyone. This will include not just travel businesses but also hoteliers and tourism boards. Each one of us has had to look at business afresh. We will also look at the alternate revenue streams which are becoming more relevant now. ticketing is what many of us survived on for so many years but frankly, today if you ask me, I will say, ‘We also sell tickets’. The tourism pie is much bigger, it is much more interesting and much more profitable. It is not just tickets. However, in order to service that, we also need to airline tickets. And so yes, we do also sell airline tickets.”

The team is also going to discuss the overload of information faced by the end traveller. “The importance of a travel consultant is to help them cut through the online clutter because everything is not as rosy as it seems on the internet. We will also be talking about opportunities beyond leisure. Yes, leisure has been a mainstay of our industry, but there are other niches. The opportunities that exist and the niches that exist must be explored. We will have some very high-profile speakers so I think it should be an interesting discussion during the convention,” he adds. Pullman Kuching and Kuching Waterfront have been chosen as the two convention hotels for delegates.

J&K Chapter

TAFI also recently started its 12th chapter in J&K. “I think it’s a very opportune time that it happened. While there have been other associations in J&K we never really had a presence there. We had an excellent inaugural of the chapter and the rapport between the trade and tourism dept is excellent in Kashmir- there is a lot of support there – there is no denying the importance of beauty of Kashmir for India’s tourism. We hope that with this, we will be able to do the conclave we had planned to do in Kashmir perhaps by the end of this year or early 2023. We got 20 members to start the chapter off! I think it’s a great beginning and I think this will be one of our very active chapters. Quite a few members from here will be joining us in Malaysia,” Prakash says.

 

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