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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Sarovar Hotels has promoted Shatabdi Dutta as the New General Manager – Marketing. The elevation is in line with the company’s efforts to strengthen its marketing department and bring urgently needed edge for the brand.

In her new role, Shatabdi will be responsible for Databases –Quality, Quantity and Targeting; Digital thrust- Search Engine Optimisation, Campaigns, Lead generation, Viral content reach, Social Media traction, Website hits ;Alliances, Partner programmes and Guest recognition. Her focus area would now also be on Sales vertical.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on flight booking lead times in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region since March 2020, reveals new flight booking data released today by Amadeus.

According to Amadeus’ first COVID-19 Travel Insights bulletin, flight bookings across the region have been made 17 days later on average during the pandemic, compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019.

The data released shows that Indian travelers appear to be the most last minute in the region when it comes to booking flights – making flight bookings on average only 10 days before their departure date between March-July 2020 – followed by Thai and Singaporean travelers, who have been making bookings on average 21 and 25 days prior to departure during the pandemic.

The Amadeus bulletin also found that overall booking lead times for international and domestic flights combined have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic across all ten of the APAC countries that were studied*, except Malaysia where there has been no noticeable change.

India, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand have seen the most significant changes in traveler behavior, with decreases of 68%, 54%, 53% and 51% respectively in flight booking lead times compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. Even in Japan – where booking lead times have remained the longest in the region at 53 days – the booking window has still contracted by 14% compared to before the pandemic.

“We expected that a greater number of passengers would prefer to book last minute in light of the uncertainties and changing travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has been borne out by our flight booking data across APAC,” said Cyril Tetaz, Executive Vice President, Airlines, Amadeus Asia Pacific. “This has significant ramifications for our industry as it looks to rebuild. For a start, airlines, hotels and tour operators now have a much shorter window of opportunity to engage travelers, and urgently need to adapt their marketing and business strategies to cater to the nuances of the last-minute market more than ever before.

“The old methods of using historical data to predict demand and income are no longer effective in the COVID-19 era, either; with so many bookings now left to the last minute, travel businesses will need to increasingly rely on real-time data instead, and build extra flexibility into every aspect of their day-to-day operations, so that resources, systems and services can be seamlessly scaled up and down as demand fluctuates at short notice, without having any impact on the traveler’s experience.”

Malaysia and the Philippines buck the trend in domestic travel

Amadeus’ COVID-19 Travel Insights bulletin also looked into the impact that the pandemic has had specifically on domestic flight bookings. Whilst most markets in the region followed a similar pattern of condensed lead times for domestic flights in the COVID-19 era, travelers in Malaysia and the Philippines have so far bucked this trend.

In recent months, Malaysian travelers in particular have been making domestic flight bookings much further ahead than they were typically doing before the pandemic hit – booking domestic flights, on average, 51 days ahead of their departure date between March-July 2020, compared to the country’s average booking lead time of 28 days for domestic flights prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Amadeus’ anonymized data, the same is true of Filipino travelers too, whose average booking lead time has increased by 22% for domestic flights during the pandemic.

“Whilst in general we have seen the same pattern of much shorter lead times on domestic flight routes in APAC, Malaysia and the Philippines are two important exceptions where travelers are actually booking  domestic flights further ahead than they previously would have done. This could, in part, reflect particularly strong concerns from Malaysian and Filipino travelers about the safety of travel and the security of domestic bookings,” said Amadeus’ Tetaz. “Whatever the reason, travel companies in these markets will clearly need to go the extra mile to lure back hesitant domestic travelers, which is going to be a critical part of every country’s recovery, especially in the short-term.”

In our recent CTC Travel Manager Taskforce call, many of our members mentioned that due to the downtime caused by Covid-19, there had been a golden opportunity to revitalise and perfect their travel policy to a reflect the new situation.

On top of the traditional corporate level benefits, could travel policies include higher level strategic universal values? Could some new elements be incorporated into the travel policy so that it could provide help towards more positive world development?

“It is absolutely the right time now due to the pandemic downtime to add sustainability goal concept in travel policy to make our world better”, commented Adriana Nainggolan, Asia Travel Manager of Autodesk. She added: “The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) can be considered, e.g. clean energy travel vendors to be appointed”.

Five years ago, United Nations Member States passed a resolution agreeing to adopt 17 meaningful goals called ‘The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)’ as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the goals.

This is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. Since 1960 when the new concept of a “Global Village” was created, it has continued to gain traction and expand around the world. Hence, each individual in society has an important role to play in our ‘Global Village’.

By deep-diving discussions of SDG in the coming editions of Bow-Tie Briefing, we aim to further reiterate how our corporate travel industry can be more proactive in contributing towards a better world by applying some of the 17 SDGs (the below infographic illustrates all 17 SDGs).

We will commence with Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 7 in this edition:

SDG 3 – good health and well-being

“Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development”. Currently, the world is facing a global health crisis unlike any other — COVID-19 is spreading human suffering, destabilising the global economy and upending the lives of billions of people around the globe. Simply by further ameliorating our corporate travel policy, together we can add value globally. Actions can be levied such as: Formalising the implementation of social distancing during business trips; officially requesting innovative measures from travel suppliers via RFPs; applying more touchless business travel processes e.g. touchless airline and hotel check-in…etc. All these tiny corporate travel additional measures enable the mitigation of health and safety risk for travellers and local communities.

SDG 7 – affordable and clean energy

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity”. According to the UN, there are encouraging signs that energy is becoming more sustainable and widely available. Access to electricity in poorer countries has begun to accelerate, energy efficiency continues to improve and renewable energy is making impressive gains in the electricity sector. Nowadays, many hotels are installing solar panels to help them to become more energy self-sufficient. Simply by encouraging more hotels to follow suit and via appropriate hotel RFPs to select this kind of clean energy hotels where possible, this goal can be realised.

Another United Nations specialist agency, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), broadened the horizons of SDGs and cultivated the ‘Sustainable Tourism Development Guidelines’. Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.

Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts and introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary. This UNWTO website takes you to the details of the guidelines.

As a preview, in the forthcoming two issues of this column we will continue to discuss a few more UN Sustainable Development Goals that can be applicable to our beloved corporate travel industry. My personal strong belief is, if each of us pays a little bit more attention, our world can be developed healthier than ever!

(Bow-Tie Briefing shares the views of Benson Tang, a corporate travel thought leader and Executive Director of the Corporate Travel Community (CTC).)

In our last edition of “Bow-Tie Briefing” two weeks ago, we explained the background to the 17 United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs) and the fact that some travel managers had reported that the downtime caused by Covid-19 provided a golden opportunity to revitalise and perfect their travel policies by incorporating SDGs into the travel programme. The application of two SDGs to the corporate travel industry were discussed, namely: SDG 3) Good health and well-being and SDG 7) Affordable and clean energy.

In Part 2 let us continue to explore three more SDGs and discover how can these goals be incorporated into our corporate travel programmes to create a new horizon to our world. This time we consider goals numbers 9, 10 and 12.

SDG 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure

“Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, together with innovation and infrastructure, can unleash dynamic and competitive economic forces that generate employment and income. They play a key role in introducing and promoting new technologies, facilitating international trade and enabling the efficient use of resources”.

One example in our industry is the further growth of virtual meetings and events instead of physically attending the traditional ones. “Events and exhibitions are definitely a major spend in southeast Asia and Siemens has internal technology to hold events and partner meetings.” said Jane Sim, commodity manager ASEAN for Siemens.

She added: “We started analysing our use of virtual meetings and events a year ago and are looking for capable partners to help us achieve this.” Undoubtedly, new innovation and technology will continue to be disruptors in the world.

SDG 10 – reduced inequalities

“To reduce inequalities, policies should be universal in principle, paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalised populations”. When selecting corporate travel service vendors, travel managers can put more emphasis on whether the suppliers are equal employment opportunity firms.

Questions can be asked such as: Do they employ a certain number of physically handicapped staff? What is the male/female staff ratio? Do they have official programmes or designate a company department to handle key responsibilities in the areas of corporate social responsibility or corporate sustainability? With the recent global “Black Life Matters” campaign, many corporations are reexamining their corporate policy, including travel policies.

In an open letter by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, he stated: “To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To the Black community — we see you. You matter and your lives matter.”

SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production

“Worldwide consumption and production — a driving force of the global economy — rest on the use of the natural environment and resources in a way that continues to have destructive impacts on the planet.” Food wastage is one of the main areas of concern.

The following is an example from Hong Kong. Procurement managers could consider joining the established government programme – Food wise Charter which is a Hong Kong Government initiative to encourage Hong Kong businesses/organisations to adopt measures to reduce food waste within their establishments and through the reduction of food waste by over the top consumption.

Companies can implement policies to promote best practice and behavioural change to reduce food waste by the staff, particularly when they are on business trips. To realise the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need to transform the way we produce and consume our natural resources. We can all play a useful part to reduce food waste for the benefit of our community.

In a sneak preview of the next “Bow-tie Briefing”, we will continue to discuss two more UN Sustainable Development Goals that can have substantial application in our corporate travel industry. Then we will make a constructive conclusion on how our corporate travel industry can lead the way for a better future. Stay tuned!

(Bow-Tie Briefing shares the views of Benson Tang, a corporate travel thought leader and Executive Director of the Corporate Travel Community (CTC).)

In the previous two editions of “Bow-Tie Briefing”, we have so far discussed the following five United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs) namely: SDG 3) Good health and well-being; SDG 7) Affordable and clean energy; SDG 9) Industry, innovation and infrastructure; SDG 10) Reduced inequalities; and SDG 12) Responsible consumption and production.

This third part of the article is the last in the series, and we will further illustrate SDG 13) Climate action and SDG 17) Partnerships for the goals. How can these goals be incorporated into our corporate travel programmes to further expand our horizons?

2019 was the second warmest year on record and the end of the warmest decade (2010- 2019) ever recorded. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to new records in 2019. Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more extreme.

How to offset corporate carbon emissions has become a responsible company’s goal. For instance, Microsoft announced an ambitious target – they will be carbon negative by 2030.

Microsoft president Brad Smith said: “Beginning next year, we will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of our procurement processes for our supply chain. Our progress on all of these fronts will be published in a new annual Environmental Sustainability Report that will detail our carbon impact and reduction journey. And lastly, all this work will be supported by our voice and advocacy supporting public policy that will accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.”

Hence, their Travel Department will also be required to act accordingly to accomplish this goal. For details of their pledge, see here: Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030

The SDGs can only be realised with strong global partnerships and cooperation. A successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships – at the global, regional, national and local levels – built upon principles and values, and upon a shared vision and shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre.

“This (SDG 17) has extreme similarity to one of our Informa Plc integral guiding principles,” said Melissa Willock, group travel director and head of corporate events. “Success is a partnership – we get to better answers by combining skills and talents, joining forces and embracing ideas, wherever they come from. This broadens perspectives, expands horizons, sparks innovation and keeps our thinking fresh.”

Hence, the trump card of success is partnership. As a consequence, partnership must be further augmented in order to be successful. This absolutely includes the subtle partnership relationship between our travel vendors and travel managers.

During this three part article, I am very pleased to have had a chance to share the core concept of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Altogether, seven out of the total 17 goals were illustrated in detail. Moreover, their possible application to our beloved travel industry were further reviewed.

May I have the honour to conclude this SDG article series with a quote from a distinguished Korean, an iconic Asian global leader, the 8th Secretary-General of United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon (반기문). In his keynote opening address at Climate Week NYC back in 2014, he stated: “If we can’t all swim together, we will sink. There is no plan B, because there is no planet B.” The inspiration from this simple statement is so powerful! Travel managers, let us join hand-in-hand to lead the way for a better future! 

(Bow-Tie Briefing shares the views of Benson Tang, a corporate travel thought leader and Executive Director of the Corporate Travel Community (CTC). Benson’s remarkable career in travel started more than 25 years ago and his extensive knowledge of the corporate travel sector has made him a sought-after speaker and lecturer.)

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has thanked the BMC and the Government of Maharashtra for acceding to the various representations made by the Association for waiver on Property tax for the hotel industry. While the Association has welcomed the three-month waiver, it has also expressed that the waiver should have been granted to all hotels as well as restaurants for a six-month period, during which they were asked to remain shut. It stated that hotels and restaurants are facing major cash crunch and the pandemic crises has brought the shutters down on many establishments. In such times, with the Industry being on the verge of collapse, not just hotels but restaurants as well are hoping for complete waiver on taxes or levies for the duration of at least 12 months.

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, HRAWI, said, “We are thankful to the Government and the BMC for considering our plea and showing the industry the much-needed solidarity. It is nice to know that the Government cares and acknowledges the Hospitality industry’s contribution and support during the crises.”

The HRAWI has consistently been making representations to the BMC to waive the property taxes for the entire industry for at least 6 months. The industry is under major crises, facing severe cash crunch and is one of the hardest hit among all sectors.

Kohli added, “While we welcome the 3-month waiver, one cannot overlook the fact that hotels and restaurants have been forced to remain shut for 6 months. During this time, establishments had to shell out for electricity and maintenance, utilities, statutory fees and other levies and also salaries. There is no income but only expenses and we don’t know for how much longer these conditions are going to last. Even by the most conservative estimates, it will take nothing less than a year or a year and a half before businesses might see some recovery. Until then, we will require the Government’s support and which it can offer to us in the form of tax and levy waivers. If nothing, the waivers will help reduce the burden in outgoings for hotels and restaurants which as mentioned earlier, have no income whatsoever, at present.”

The HRAWI has also reminded the Government of the entire costs of operation and maintenance borne by hotels for quarantining health workers and other essential workers for which they have not been paid yet. This has resulted in many hoteliers having to borrow loans to keep the hotels running.

Kohli said, “The industry, in spite of being the hardest hit has stood by the Government in times of dire need and whenever it was required. We are positive that the BMC will show graciousness and magnanimity and accede to the pleas of the industry.”

Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Expedition, passed away on September 16 morning of a cardiac arrest. He was 51. Son of the legendary mountain climber and soldier, Colonel Narinder (Bull) Kumar, he was a passionate skier, trekker and rafting guide. Kumar joined Mercury Himalayan Expedition, India's largest adventure travel company, established by his father. He was the President of the ATOAI for two terms and Vice Chairman of the Federation of Associations in India Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the umbrella organisation of Indian tourism trade and industry associations.

Akshay trained as a river guide in Canada when he was 15 and rafted over 30 rivers across India and Canada. Years earlier whilst doing his graduation at St Stephen’s College Delhi he kept the legacy alive of the Hiking Club. He was supported by his wonderful wife, Dilshad, and ran a great adventure travel operation along with a rafting lodge in Rishikesh called Bulls Retreat. A qualified mountaineer, rock climber and biker, he was most comfortable in rafting and navigating skilfully through rapids.

He led the first-ever descent of the Brahmaputra river in Arunachal Pradesh in 1990; led the first-ever Isuzu Challenge Expedition in India – a first of its kind off road jeep safari across the upper Himalayan region.

He was a true adventurer.

The Kashmir slopes had been his home ground since he was 3 and the Calgary Winter Games in 1988 would have been his Olympic debut, but for an unfortunate skiing accident while training in Val Thorens, France.

His biggest joy was taking his little daughter, Saira on treks in the Himalaya and watching her ski down slopes, alas short lived.

The loss is immense and he will be remembered by the travel industry in India and overseas. Our deepest condolences to his parents, Dilshad, his wife and his little daughter, Saira.

India has entered into Air Bubble agreements with 10 countries viz. USA, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Maldives, UAE, Qatar, Afghanistan and Bahrain, till Sept 13, 2020, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C) Civil Aviation, informed Lok Sabha yesterday.

These are temporary agreements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They are reciprocal in nature i.e. airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits. Tickets for the flights are sold through the airlines' website, travel agents and Global Distribution Systems.

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions on international flight operations to/from India. The Indian aviation and health infrastructure is currently trying its best to efficiently handle the large scale Vande Bharat Mission and Air Bubble operations. Limited quarantine and other related health facilities to be provided by the State Governments is a factor that has to be taken into account before regular commercial scheduled international operations are allowed.

Marriott International resorts in the Maldives are poised to welcome guests again following the country’s announcement to reopen borders for international travel. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, W Maldives, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, and JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa are set to re-open from 1 October 2020, while The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will welcome guests starting 1 November 2020.

"Working hand-in-hand with the local authorities, we are delighted to announce the reopening of our five iconic resorts in the Maldives. The island-paradise remains as a beloved and inspired destination for many, and with the reopening of our resorts, we look forward to bringing those dreams to life as travel gradually resumes.” said Rivero Delgado, Area Vice President, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, at Marriott International. “The wellbeing of our guests is of paramount importance and we have the highest standards of cleanliness as well as hygiene protocols in place to ensure peace of mind for first-time and returning travelers to the islands,” Delgado  added.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts brings the romantic charms of a Tuscan country estate to the biodiverse ecological wonderland of Khao Yai with Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai. Located less than a three hour drive from Bangkok on the fringes of the Khao Yai National Park, the resort offers 112-room.

“The opening of Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai represents our 10th Mövenpick address in Thailand. Home to a rich National Park, Khao Yai has long been a favoured getaway for Bangkok residents and domestic travelers seeking an escape into nature. With the opening of our first hotel here, we are looking forward to showcasing the 70-year culinary legacy of the Mövenpick brand, and delivering a guest experience that is authentic and memorable, through a sustainable and responsible approach,” said Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer of Accor, Upper Southeast & Northeast Asia and the Maldives.

Khao Yai has long been known as a countryside getaway just a short drive from Bangkok. In addition to the lush Khao Yai National Park – the country’s oldest, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage-protected forest complex – the area is home to many points of interest, including Chokchai Farm, Jim Thompson Farm, GranMonte Vineyard and Winery, PB Valley Khao Yai Winery, and Heaw Narok Waterfall. 

“With the opening of Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai, we are delighted to showcase a range of service offerings for travellers to the resort. Khao Yai is the one of the region’s most picturesque destination packed with fun attractions and scenic mountain views perfect for the family,” said Benoit Metanomski, General Manager of Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai.



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