Realising the current trends of the Indian travellers, TUI Holidays focuses on personalised experiences and has introduced Intrepid Holidays, says Vishal Sinha.
How has travel business been this holiday season for outbound travel?
Can you share the numbers and volumes? Business has been great with a lot of Indians looking to travel all year round. We have noticed a positive trend in terms of early bookings for summers this year. A lot of travellers look at booking holidays over 30 days in advance to take advantage of the best deals available. Indians are changing their holiday patterns from few long holidays to many shorter ones. With a slew of long weekends since last year, short getaways form 50 per cent of our total domestic bookings. People are looking at vacations and short breaks as an essential part of the annual planning and expenditure and we only expect this to grow significantly. As compared to last year, we have seen a jump of 20 per cent Indians who have travelled to foreign destinations this year.
What kind of growth do you anticipate in the travel and hospitality industry?
How have the growth rates been so far? The number of Indians travelling overseas is set to rise from nearly 15 million at present to 50 million by 2020. The Indian outbound segment has recorded an average growth rate of ten per cent for the past five to six years, and we looking at an upward growing curve for the travel and hospitality business in India.
What are the innovative measures that one can expect to see in outbound tourism in the times to come? How proactive is the organisation in promoting novelties in the itineraries?
Tailored vacations are going to play a big role in 2015. Now-a-days, itineraries and group tours are only chosen by first time travellers. Personalisation and customisation are taking over long and boring itineraries and unique travel experiences and unexplored journeys are not just terms used by the rich and famous anymore. TUI India has always emphasised on personalisation as one of the main factors for their holiday offers.
Gourmet tourism is a new trend, when people travel to various destinations to sample local food. This is not just at the most famous restaurants but at the homes of locals, so that they get authentic flavours. A lot of travellers even opt to sign up for cookery classes to learn signature recipes.
Film tourism will be another emerging trend in 2015. A lot of international destinations have become popular through in-film branding and tourism boards of these countries are making the most of it. Places like Switzerland (Yash Raj Films), Spain (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), Ireland (Game of Thrones) and New Zealand (Lord of the Rings) are all gaining popularity for this.
TUI India markets this segment by catering to tourists across various categories. While there are fixed packages for everyone from a family to a backpacker and the luxury traveller, we also encourage tourists to go beyond the ordinary with our Intrepid Holidays and soak in the experience of the place that they are visiting. With an opportunity to explore different countries and cultures in a deeper and fun way, Intrepid Holidays regularly surprises even the most avid globe-trotters.
TUI India has also partnered with ‘Visit Britain’ to promote Britain as an upcoming Bollywood destination. As part of this association, TUI India is offering Indian clients – specifically young couples and honeymooners – five distinct tour packages with three to nine days itineraries involving visits to key film location sets in London, Oxford, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
Which were the initial destinations and circuits that you launched? And how have they evolved over time?
Initially destinations such as Switzerland, London, Paris, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and UAE were very popular; however Indians are now looking for new and rich experiences. Destinations including Korea, Britain, USA, Ireland, Turkey, Portugal, Austria, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bhutan are gaining a spot in every traveller’s bucket list. The Indian travellers are maturing to experiment with new destinations and experiences, with pub-hopping in Ireland, Amsterdam Food by Foot experience or a tuk-tuk ride in Bangkok.
What is the difference between the earlier Indian tourists and those of today? What are the principal factors behind this evolution from your experience?
What is the organisation doing to answer to the demands of the evolving travellers? We have seen a trend where Indians have become more experimental when it comes to travel and in the spirit of exploration; they have been looking for newer destinations. Along with the favourite Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai as destinations, Indians are looking at newer places such as Bhutan, Indonesia and Vietnam. They are also looking at spending more time at a single city which wasn’t the case few years back.
There are a lot of travellers these days, who are opting for localised holidays, where they want to enjoy the destinations in an authentic manner. We have seen the younger urban population opting for a holiday where they eat, sleep and travel like a local, meet travellers from all over the world and experience the local culture.
TUI India strives to bring out a TUIrist in everyone which means every customer travels with a smile and comes back with rich travel experiences. TUI India thinks about the reason people travel and what a trip might mean to them. We help our travellers understand and become sensitive to their surroundings, especially the culture of the people whose country they’ll be visiting. TUI India helps them feel more connected to the place and its history, and bring back lasting memories.
Which destinations/players are most dynamic and proactive and have the potential to pick up?
Indians are changing their holiday patterns from few long holidays to many shorter ones. Tailor made vacations will be one of the biggest trends in 2015. Along with the favourite Switzerland, Britain, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Abu Dhabi and Dubai as destinations, Indians are looking at newer places such as Turkey, Prague, Bhutan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
We are planning to promote Korea as a skiing destination, Arctic and Antarctic expeditions and Reunion Island along with Mauritius. We are also promoting private yacht vacations in Thailand, France, Bahamas, and Seychelles as part of our signature packages. Intrepid Holidays, where one eats, sleeps and travels the local way in Malaysia, Africa, Thailand and USA are another section of our signature packages.