'India will continue to witness strong demand for domestic travel'

Ramesh Daryanani, VP, Global Sales, Asia Pacific, Marriott Int'l, says the trend is here to stay

The time is not far when India will witness the new-age traveller getting ready to travel and explore domestic destinations first than take a flight to a foreign land, opines Ramesh Daryanani, Vice President, Global Sales, Asia Pacific at Marriott International. This, he says, is due to challenges like rising airfares, depreciating Rupee and airline capacity. Apart from these, currently, only 6.5 per cent of the Indian population has passports, he observes. And while the Government is issuing 12 million passports a year, there are 1.3 billion-plus people in the country which is also a reason why the country will continue to see strong demand for domestic travel, feels Daryanani.

While that promises a positive outlook for the country, there are some challenges the Group is trying to work its way through. Speaking on the same from a pre-pandemic standpoint, Daryanani says the focus for them has been on how India can be brought on the global map as a destination for meetings, events and leisure. “We have all collectively tried to do so but so many things like infrastructure, ease of getting in and visa approvals need to fall in place. The pandemic has helped to an extent and there has been some progress but the focus is now on how we accelerate it. India has always been great with business travel due to the presence of all Fortune 500 companies here as well as it being known as a destination for outsourcing,” he says. However, other destinations as well as history and architecture are either unknown to most or if they are aware about them, it’s not their first priority. This is what was trying to work its way through before the pandemic, the VP shares. 

“In the post-pandemic world, we have come out stronger than we would have predicted. Travel is back and it is being driven by domestic leisure which has been extremely strong for us,” avers Daryanani, adding that corporate travel is returning too as companies are trying to rebuild business and reconnect with their business partners. Moreover, meetings and events are in recovery mode as well. But the challenge is that no one had predicted the recovery to be this quick. “So there is talent crunch with the task of figuring out on how to inspire new talent to join the industry as well as ensuring that they get trained and are ready to deliver the experience,” shares Daryanani.

The talent, he says, has found newer opportunities to consider during the pandemic including working from home as well as the prospect of startups. “Hospitality is a business where you’re either passionate about it or you’re not. That’s what we’re trying to rekindle. The passion for hospitality, the experiences you have here and how holistic it makes you as a professional is what we’re trying to imbibe in the new talent,” he says.

The other challenge for the Group is to create awareness among people about the Group's brands and offerings through its loyalty programme. Now that the country has opened up for travel and people are hunting for hotels to stay, Marriott wants to re-establish itself at the top of the mind of these travellers by introducing a few new initiatives and sustaining the old ones like credit cards and Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels.

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