With the advent of digitisation, Indian tourist today is more confident and willing to experiment with local cuisine, online booking etc., as most of the information is now available online, says Karan Anand.
How has the travel business been this holiday season for outbound travel? Can you share the numbers and volumes?
The winter holiday period is a time when people travel to domestic and short haul international destinations. Within India they travel to hill stations across the country or to nearby destinations where the travel time is not more than two to three hours by road or train. Prominent destinations within the country during the winter period were Rajasthan, Kerala, Goa, the Andaman and the North East of India. Closer home, Sri Lanka and Nepal also did well.
Overseas destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Macau and South Korea were key destinations for this winter period. A segment of customers also travelled to South Africa, Australia and Europe during this period.
Overall we grew by 30 pc in both the segments. If I talk about net revenue of the company, it went up 13 pc to INR 6.85 billion during the quarter ending September 30, 2015, against INR 6.05 billion in July- September quarter of last fiscal.
You have recently reported a profit of INR 1.18 billion for the quarter ending September 30, what do you think has led to such profit-making?
The outlook of the industry looks buoyant and tourism, domestic or international, is expected to grow at good pace, which augurs well for us. It has been an eventful quarter for us as we continue to build on our business. As for the financial performance for the quarter, our company continues to do well with 13 pc growth in revenues and 13 pc growth in EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation). Leisure – India, Education and Meininger (Cox & Kings-owned hotel group) continue to be our key growth drivers.
What kind of growth do you anticipate in the travel and hospitality industry in the near future?
We anticipate growing by about 15-20 pc year-on-year. Going forward, the company will continue to build on its strengths to push accelerated growth.
What role do festivals like Diwali and Christmas play in your business?
Unlike the past, today travel is a yearround phenomenon. Having said that, bulk of travel takes place in the first half of the financial year. Festivals such as Diwali and Christmas offer customers who have not been able to go on a vacation before, a chance to exhaust their holidays.
What are the innovations in outbound tourism? How proactive are you in promoting novelties in the itineraries?
We have introduced ‘Culinary Holidays’ under the ‘MasterChef Travel’ brand. It’s a new range of culinary holidays, focusing on the world’s most inspiring cuisines.
To enjoy these holidays you don’t need to be an expert cook—they are more fun without you having to compete with anyone. Of course, in addition to the culinary elements, most of the holidays include plenty of opportunities for sightseeing.
We have also partnered with Canada-based G Adventures and introduced adventure holidays in the Indian market. We sell experiences that reinforce your love for travel. We saw an opportunity to whet India’s appetite for adventure and make them feel as passionate about travel and sustainability as we do. These alliances and the consequent innovations give us a great mileage and global exposure. We are always on a look out for such innovations.
Which were the initial destinations and circuits that you had launched? And how have they evolved over time?
We were the pioneers in introducing new destinations in the Indian market especially in Europe. We introduced Chamonix Mont Blanc, France, in the Indian market. We also introduced the Grévin Museum (a wax museum) in Paris. We introduced the ‘Cox & Kings Mountain’ in 2007 in Swiss Alps as an exclusive excursion for our Indian clientele and it is the only mountain to be named after a travel company.
‘Glacier 3000’ in the Alps is another attraction that we introduced in the Indian market. Today, all of them are successful in their own rights.
What is the difference between the earlier Indian tourists and those of today? What are the principal factors behind this evolution according to you?
Today’s tourist is more confident and willing to experiment with local cuisines, buy products online etc. They are willing to travel around the world and hence have great potential.