Varesh Chopra, Regional Director – India, Middle East and South Asia. Globus family of brands, has transformed every obstacle into a opportunity during the pandemic.
In an exclusive interview with Caroline Diana, Editor of Voyager’s World, he talks about the brand’s biggest learning’s and how small efforts repeated day in day out won the confidence of the customers.
It’s been over a year since the Covid-19 upended the travel trade. With border closures and travel restrictions, the Indian outbound travel companies have been bearing the brunt of this pandemic. Take us through your journey during this traumatic phase. What were the eye-openers? How did your company rebrand? How did you innovate during this challenging phase?
What’s happened with the pandemic has truly been an unimaginable and unprecedented time for all of us, more so for the outbound operators. We still had travellers on the ground when certain borders started closing some of them with very short notice.
I feel proud to share that The Globus family of brands handled these sudden challenges with empathy as well as the highest level of customer-centric conduct. There was a fair amount of heroics and proactive demeanour exhibited by our personnel worldwide on the ground which made each customer reach back not only safely but also in the most efficient way back home.
As the situation unfolded further, we were amongst the first ones to conceive and implement a series of measures, policies as well as future protocols to ensure a safe and healthy journey for our valued travellers. The “Peace of mind plan”, adopting the WTTC Safe travels protocols early in the day, “Trip assurance” program based on our own “ Travel bubble” concept as well as “Booking flexibility” for the future are some of them.
We continue to innovate with the introduction of our “Monograms India Discoveries” as well as “Choice Touring” products introduced in the last two months, with a view on the future travel trends. “ Small group touring”, and offering “Private touring” now even on Cosmos as well as a renewed focus on our “Undiscovered “ series tours is giving us a very solid strategy to bounce back extremely quickly once the world opens up and the confidence to travel internationally comes back.
On the trade front, The Globus Family of Brands kept our loyal supporters highly motivated with our comeback sessions of “I Know Europe” training as well as the introduction of the “I Know South America “ program. All these in slick, exhaustive and complete online modules. Add to this the “Dreaming does not stop Campaign” as well as the innovative and first of its kind “ Travel Agent Superheroes” contest and the participants seemingly forgot the uncertain times that we all are living in right now.
To sum up, the Globus Family Brands has kept our nine-decade-old principles of continuing to innovate as market leaders and creating not only happy travellers but even happy partners alive even during these extraordinary times. Of course, passing on reassuring messaging through constant communications to our patrons as well as partners was a key to achieving all this.
Globus is now focusing on Domestic. As someone who has always crafted international packages, how does it feel to curate domestic holidays? What were your learnings while implementing this?
We were always offering a very select portfolio of incoming India programs to our international patrons for years. But, yes, this is a lot different as we are now offering an Indian experience to Indians! The program & product choices for our domestic travellers are of course very different from a typical incoming itinerary. There are content, experience expectation & pricing differentials that come into play here. Add to that the challenge of trying to operate during a pandemic when statewide rules and protocols keep changing every day. So, this project has been full of great learning as well as excitement without a doubt.
What makes us so positive about this new offering is that we already had demand for these packages from our existing travellers, in fact, it was they who suggested and asked for this to happen. What’s so wonderful is, that they can use all their loyalty points or unutilized bonuses and credits on these tours as well. In return, they get the hallmark quality of Monograms with our Trip assurance and Safe Travels protocols right in line with our international standards. They also get a choice of 6 brilliant tours for a start – all based on a hub and spoke model and all with the product ethos and USPs of Monograms – completely private FIT tours, staying at hand-selected experiential accommodations, programs enriched with unique built-in experiences, offering culture through cuisine, and authentic commentaries by expert local guides with a “Local Host”( TM) at each place. They earn additional credits when they travel on MID and get all the benefits of booking flexibility, trip assurance and trip protection in these uncertain times. What more can one ask for!
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 customers?
Well, there is no major change as in what we offer as a travel experience even with MID – Each of the MID journeys still tells a story – in our unique way and product flair of course. What we are additionally saying is – what better time to explore this majestic land with a segment-leading international tour operator offering not only richer, deeper travel experiences but also the highest level of health and safety assurances.
Domestic isn’t a short term plan for us and is here to stay; in fact, we have a plan to expand and include more destinations within India. We might also adapt some of the more popular itineraries from this portfolio for our future international guests as well – It will only make our Incoming portfolio more comprehensive and attractive.
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?
As of now, I do not see any such benefits percolating down to us and many like us.
There is a long list of suggestions that I have personally had both on the Domestic / Incoming as well as on the Outbound tourism front and they aren’t any different from what my other respectable colleagues have put forth on many forums in the past few months. However, it sounds futile to start listing them yet again especially when we have not seen the relevant sections of our Government pay any heed.
As an industry, we don’t seem to be reaching a point where policies can get influenced. If you would like to hear a simplistic, most critical formula I feel that many organizations will greatly benefit from a short term tax holiday, flexible loan moratoriums at lower rates to help enterprises meet operational and salary burden as well as keeping in abeyance some of the planned taxation, such as TCS would be helpful. On an industry level, even though it may sound like an idealistic proposal, but having some kind of price parity and If I may say sanity will help the short to long term future of many players in our fraternity going ahead.
The international travel scene is rife with uncertainty. What’s the roadmap for brand Globus in 2021-2022?
We are taking it day by day now and as it comes. But be assured with what all is in store with our string of innovations made even during the pandemic as well as full preparedness for a post-Covid world. We are raring and ready to go. We will be quick and sure to bounce back with loads of elan.