Attributing the success of tourism industry majorly to internet and online space, La Vacanza Travel has been making effective use of the medium through innovative ways such as the recent launch of travel blog on their website. Managing Director, Mohammad Shad Siddiqui, talks about the current trends, markets and the intelligent travellers of today.
Q : How exactly has travel business been this holiday season for outbound travel? How much does outbound travel form a part of your total revenue?
This holiday season was good for us. We had a lot of customer base asking for domestic holidays and we do have expertise in most of the domestic holiday sectors and popular places. However, La Vacanza Travel is primarily an outbound travel company, focused on constantly strengthening our presence and products for Far East and Middle East and striving to increase our numbers for Europe and Americas. Outbound travel contributes to almost per cent of our total revenue.
Q : What kind of growth do you anticipate in the travel and hospitality industry? How have the growth rates been so far?
We are upbeat about the growth in outbound travel from India, which is in sync with the sentiments shared by almost all foreign tourist boards for Indians travelling abroad. According to Tourism Australia the number of Indians travelling overseas is set to increase from around 15 million today to 50 million by 2020. Tourism Australia is hoping to receive 300,000 Indian tourists by 2020. South African Tourism Board today considers India as one of the key market for their country and for the first time Indian tourist arrivals in Thailand crossed 1 million mark in 2012.
Introductions of direct flights is another indicator, many airlines started direct flights from India like Malindo and others added direct flights from other Indian cities. Recently released Amadeus-Frost & Sullivan tourism industry report says Indians travelling to Asia-Pacific alone spent USD13.3 billion in 2011. This figure is set to zoom to USD91 billion by 2030, making Indians the second-biggest spenders, after China, in the world on overseas travel.
Q : How would La Vacanza be different from the existing players in the market? What is the kind of competition that you are facing?
There are many good travel companies in India, many of them have created a niche for themselves with their products and are competition to us. La Vacanza Travel stands out with the help of our quality products, competitive pricing, innovative marketing and a great young and knowledgeable team to ensure high quality deliverables to our customers.
Q : What is your core business at present? What are the plans for expanding this core segment? What are the innovative measures that one can expect to see in this space in the times to come?
Our core business is outbound travel; we have small but three effective verticals to reach out to the respective markets in our team namely – corporate ‘Meetings and Incentives’, leisure and distribution to our partners, currently in East and North India.
We understand there are many new opportunities. As a next step, besides strengthening teams and products, we are working on many innovative things mostly in digital space. One of its kind, La Vacanza travel blog, was launched few months back. It is a unique blog for both Hindi and English readers and the response is very encouraging.
Q : For how long has La Vacanza been promoting outbound tourism, particularly Europe?
La Vacanza has been promoting outbound tourism since inception and Europe is our strength.
Q : What kind of volumes you do currently?
Corporate ‘Meetings & Incentives’ is one of our vertical, which delivers good numbers as far as volumes are concerned. La Vacanza Travel today is associated with most of the big corporates in electronic, office automation, banking and IT sector. We organise incentive programs for these corporates ranging from 20-500 frequently, which constantly adds to the volumes for us to respective destinations. We are focussed on increasing our volumes in distribution and leisure segments.
Q : Which were the initial destinations and circuits that you launched?
At La Vacanza Travel we always aspire to offer new things to our customers, especially new places that can offer out of the box experiences to our customers. Recently we suggested our customer a visit to Kruger National Park, it was a very well-travelled group and everyone enjoyed the ultimate wildlife and local experiences that Kruger offer in South Africa.
In past three years, we have also been actively suggesting destinations in Eastern Europe like Budapest, Prague, cities of Austria and cities of Germany as well with an excellent response from our customers.
Q : What is the difference between the earlier Indian tourists and those of today?
There is no comparison between earlier Indian tourists and those of today, customers these days know exactly what they want to do and have far better clarity of products and budgets. They are very well informed and ready to pay for quality services and consultation.
Q : What are the principal factors behind this evolution from your experience?
It is primarily because of the internet and access to a lot of information online.
Q : How proactive is the organisation in promoting novelties in the itineraries?
It is very important for us. We do not believe in offering a simple trip to our customers with air ticket and hotels, it is about 360 Degree experience of the place.
Q : Which destinations/players are most dynamic and proactive and have the potential to pick up?
Recently many destinations have shown a lot of initiatives and dynamism that include South Africa, US, Australia, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Thailand and many more. All these destinations are already popular and should pick up even more.
Q : How do you see the expansion and evolution of La Vacanza in the outbound tourism in the next five years?
Next five years are very critical for us in La Vacanza Travel, not only it is important for us to strengthen our team with highly motivated and trained members to cater to our growing customer base consisting of largely high end and corporate customers, it is at the same time also critical that we grow constantly in infrastructure and reach in the online space as well. Our existing team is focussed and working hard in all the directions.