Let’s Go to the USA

President & MD of Sartha Global Marketing speaks about Brand USA and the Indian source market.


EVEN THOUGH there is still a need to create better awareness about what is believed to be the most wonderful destination in the world, outbound tourism from India to USA is growing tremendously. In hope to expand the professional footprint in future and provide quality services with integrity to all the clients, Sheema Vohra, President and Managing Director, Sartha Marketing and Sartha Global Marketing hopes to attain more numbers in the future. “Recognition and rewards will automatically follow. We are looking to build robust growth numbers for USA and this will be our endeavour in 2018,” she says. Vohra acts as India representative of several prestigious tourism boards/ destinations in the USA. Her retainer clients include Brand USA, Visit California, Las Vegas Conventions & Visitors Authority, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, San Francisco Travel and San Francisco International Airport, Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau, Nevada Division of Tourism, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Simon Shopping Destinations, Choose Chicago and Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, to name a few.

“India has great potential which needs to be explored. USA is one of the most aspirational destinations for Indians, however, there are few challenges that we face. One of them is lack of awareness beyond the major gateway cities. The US offers an unparalleled variety of experiences and destination diversity. So, it is our continuous effort to educate potential travellers on the range of attractions and destinations that we offer in the country,” she says.

Vohra comes from the tourism, hospitality and public relations industry with over two decades of experience as a hospitality professional and has worked with Marriott International, The Claridges Hotels, The Oberoi Group. In 1995, she joined a group of travel professionals running a tourism services and public relations company, gaining valuable experience in distribution, strategy planning, finance and representations and opened Sartha Global Marketing in 2007. Making India the most important and major source market for brand USA, in 2016, there were 1.17 million visitors from India to the USA, making it the 11th highest-ranked country by arrival numbers. Spending by Indians was the 6th highest – more than many developed countries with higher arrival numbers to the US, explains Vohra.

As per the marketing initiatives lined up for the year, the States offers Indian travellers a range of destinations and experiences to choose from. Over the years the country has witnessed a constant increase in the number of tourists from India. To keep this momentum going and to inspire more and more Indian travellers to visit the USA, Brand USA has implemented several initiatives in the Indian market. When the year 2016-17 was designated as the U.S. – India Travel and Tourism Partnership Year, it was designed to effectively position the States and India for increased trade in travel services by bringing the governments and the private sectors in both the countries together. It also creates an opportunity for Brand USA to bring new programming opportunities in the Indian market to its US domestic partners. The initiative had created inroads for the US travel industry with the India travel trade, and to facilitate better connections and opportunities to promote travel from India to the United States.

“We are focussing on expanded cooperative marketing programmes and B2B marketing initiatives, product development, besides ongoing consumer marketing. Brand USA’s consumer campaign is meant to welcome prospective travellers to explore the endless opportunities in the USA, and show how far they can go—geographically, spiritually, and emotionally,” adds Vohra.

Prior to creating the campaign, Brand USA conducted research into India’s key motivations when choosing their travel destinations. They found that Indian travellers are predominantly looking for excitement, meaning they are interested in fun, indulgence, and to escape the routine. With this Vohra expects to maintain a healthy growth in arrival numbers in 2018 and future.

What makes USA a special destination for MICE and leisure? She explains, “MICE is a fast growing traveller segment to the United States. With the commencement of multiple direct and indirect flights from India, getting a large group to the United States has never been easier. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have laid down special visa procedures for MICE groups. Lastly, the Brand USA in-market teams are regularly making sales calls on corporate and trade MICE decision makers – including organizing workshops and multi-destination familiarisation tours.”

USA is a vibrant destination offering diverse experiences and perceived as the ‘Land of Dreams’ in India. And with the range of holiday options available for Indian travellers, Vohra is determined to establish the US as the premier holiday destination. While today travellers are looking to touch, feel and imbibe the culture and atmosphere of a destination, they no longer want to be only visitors to famous sites and monuments. So, travel is getting more and more experiential. Vohra highlights some of the must-do experiences.

Culinary Tours: There is no better way to get to know a new place or a new culture than by eating the local foods! Trying out local cuisines are really great ways to experience a place, a way to immerse you into the flavours and ingredients prominent in the area. Culinary tours are gaining in popularity immensely these days.

Self-Drive Holidays: With one of the youngest populations in the world, an increasing number of Indians are taking advantage of the freedom of a self-drive trip offers. In the US they are travelling to some of the iconic routes like Route 66, the scenic Highway 1 on the west coast, and many more.

Adventure Travel: Adventure travel can never go out of the list. People want to hike, bike, canoe, kayak, zip line, bungee jump, and heli-trek their way around the cities they are seeing.

Theme Parks and Family Attractions: Family holidays were always a major segment from India. The United States offers the world’s best range of attractions for families.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'MICE issue'

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