During the pandemic, very few people in Indian Travel Trade turned obstacles into opportunities. One among them is Mamta Pall, who launched FootprintsWorldwide just a few months ago. The company’s vision is to offer sales & marketing solutions to boutique hotels and resorts, both in India and abroad. In an exclusive interview with Voyager’s World, Pall talks about her vision for the startup.
It’s been over a year since the Covid-19 upended the travel trade. With border closures and stoppage of flights, it’s mostly the India outbound travel companies that are most affected. Please share your journey during this traumatic phase. What were the eye-openers? How did you rebrand? What’s the innovation carried out during this phase?
COVID 19 did trigger off an unprecedented crisis in the Tourism & Hospitality industry. In the initial phase, when the pandemic had just set in, I was associated with Outbound Marketing as Group Director. We, as a team, had instantly started working from home. We reached out to our client base over phone and emails, and we were doing a lot of social media activity to engage with travel agents & tour operators across India. We did virtual presentations for the hotel brands under the OM Portfolio on various travel industry Whatsapp groups and other platforms. We did some innovative Instagram Stories which were related to certain interesting questions on top favourite destinations plus places that one would have on their bucket list, etc.
With the launch of FootprintsWorldwide, you have now begun focusing on domestic travel. As someone who’s always crafted international packages, how does it feel to curate domestic holidays? What were your learnings while implementing this?
Well, I started my career in the industry with a domestic brand called Usha Shriram Hotels. The brand was franchised with Quality Inn and the properties were in Manali, Shimla & Mysore. Hence, I do have an exposure to the domestic sector. I decided to start my own Representation Company this year because I personally felt that there couldn’t be a better time. Hence, I launched FootprintsWorldwide, with a vision of offering Sales & Marketing Solutions to boutique hotels / brands / resorts in India and across the globe. We will also be looking at Tourism Boards to add into our portfolio. An in-depth knowledge of the market and a proven track record of selling & positioning various brands effectively are the main factors that ensure that our clients are in good hands.
How has your sales pitch changed after switching to domestic? Is domestic your short-term plan? Or will you continue with this even after the borders open? Also, what has changed in the modus operandi of reaching out to your customers?
I personally think that the sales pitch is the same, whether it’s an international or a domestic product. Both constitute a lot of personal interaction, effective communication and persistent follow-ups for conversions. Having said that, since the client base for domestic is quite different from the outbound client base, one has to adapt accordingly. In terms of the modus operandi of reaching out, it has become a lot more of phone calls and video calling, whether through skype or other modes of contact in the current scenario; because we still seem to be far away from one-to-one interactions. I definitely plan to get international products under my umbrella, though I will continue with domestic brands as well.
A lot of associations and forums have been formed over the past 12 months to revive the travel industry? Are these forums really helping you? What solid steps must be taken to revive the travel industry?
I agree that a lot of associations have been formed over the past one year. They have been formed more in the interest of travel agents as such, and some of them are perhaps doing good work; trying to reach out to various bodies to assist the agencies in refunds etc. plus, becoming a bridge between the airlines and the agencies.
I have myself taken on the role of State President – Delhi Travel And Tourism Council for WICCI (Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry). WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. There should be concrete steps taken to revive Domestic Tourism.
Domestic Tourism seems to be the only segment that will bounce back sooner than the others. Therefore, there must be some amount of clarity in strategies of each state, their guidelines and quarantine policies. The State Governments must arrive at some kind of uniformity in rules, regulations and procedures amongst states. I realize this may not be possible for all states. However, efforts need to be made on clarity on these issues as the customers are currently confused. Once clarity in guidelines is established, safe tourism with all precautions and measures needs to be encouraged.
What’s your roadmap for 2021?
The plan is to stay focused on promoting The Desert Tulip Hotel and Resort Jaisalmer, 7 Hills Resort and King’s Paradise and Resort Kanatal Uttarakhand – the hotels that we currently have in our product range. And slowly, as things get better, to add more interesting brands to promote under FootprintsWorldwide.