Category Archives: Agents

Zen Cruises partners with American cruise-hotel operator for its domestic cruise

Zen Cruises has announced its collaboration with The Apollo Group, an American custom cruise-hotel operator. Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Zen Cruises, said, “Zen Cruises has partnered with global experts from the cruise, entertainment, port and marine industry to bring closer home the grandeur experienced by Indians onboard foreign ships. With their vast knowledge of serving global cruise industry, our strategic partners will offer quality services to domestic passengers, both in terms of innovation and experience.” Zen Cruises’ maiden cruise will sail in Indian waters in 2019 on a 70,285-ton, 2,000 passenger ship. The ship, currently in service under a leading cruise line, globally will be renamed ‘Karnika’ post change of ownership and is set for its first domestic sail from Mumbai under the brand name ‘Jalesh Cruises’ in April 2019. The Apollo Group will be spearheading an array of on-board operations ranging from food and beverage, house-keeping, guest services, payrolls, public health, vendor management and revenue collection, among others. Zen Cruises has also announced its collaboration with a leading ship manager as a marine technology partner for providing on-board environment management, itinerary distance planning, fuel forecasting, compliance and class regulations, supply chain and budgeting, among others. For onboard IT and hardware services, broadcasting, satellite and shoreside link, Zen Cruises has collaborated with IPM Solutions, which specialises in providing seamless connectivity, services and project management for cruise ships across the world. Harding Brothers & Flemingo will offer on-board high-street retail therapy from international brands as part of its collaboration with Zen Cruises. The ship will undergo revitalisation in Singapore with Sembcorp Marine.

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We are not ‘dictating’: FHRAI reacts to Deep Kalra’s statement

After MakeMyTrip (MMT) group’s chief executive Deep Kalra’s recent comment that the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has no locus standi to determine commercial agreements between MMT and the establishments on its platform, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, VP, FHRAI, says, “Goibibo and MMT have been exploitive, unethical and adapted divisive business practices, leading to predatory pricing, market distortions and cannibalisation. I fail to see how our letter clearly worded as requesting to “resolve” the situation would be misconstrued as trying to “dictate” terms. India has approximately 100,000 establishments which provide accommodation. Approximately, 65,000 are structured licensed establishments, out of which around 45,000 hotels are stand-alone hotels. “FHRAI has never got involved all these years in any negotiations with standalone vendors but takes a strong stand when the industry faces any outside coercion or intimidation. It is only when 1000’s of hoteliers realised Goibibo and MMT’s arrogant method of pressurising the small hotels in high commissions, more free rooms, started price control on the owners. FHRAI has, in its fiduciary duty stepped in to amicably resolve matters. Please note FHRAI is not here to negotiate as wrongly being projected. It is here to ensure that agencies like MMT and Goibibo do not take the industry for granted by parenting such market conditions in which it would be difficult to do business for one party but a win-win situation for the other.” He further said, “Going back to December 7, 2018, whilst the Ahmedabad Hoteliers blocked GOMMT in the city, Kalra wanted to sit with FHRAI and work out the issues. The team sent to “resolve” arrived but with a fixed agenda of “fixing” only commissions that too by a paltry reduction …

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Thailand launches Thai Golf Pass Season-II

To ensure a seamless golf experience exclusive to Thailand, The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), New Delhi, has launched the Thai Golf Pass Season-II after the success of  first-ever golf loyalty programme for any country. The new season of the programme aims to offer exciting rewards on redemption of loyalty points. The focus of Thai Golf Pass Season-II is to integrate its website with travel partners’ website while increasing the number of loyalty partners to 200 and membership’s base to cover 5000 golfers. Besides bringing all the suppliers under one platform, TAT is also looking to organise promotional events in India and Thailand. On the occasion, Isra Stapanaseth, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi, said, “Amazing Thailand is a paradise for golfers with more than 250 international standard golf courses, professional caddies, warm hospitality, wellness and food, and entertainment. We are looking forward to Indian golfers to become a part of this loyalty programme and experience the services and offers.”

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VFS Global appoints Jiten Vyas and Vinay Malhotra appointed to its Executive Board

VFS Global has appointed Jiten Vyas and Vinay Malhotra – both Regional Group COOs – as members of the company’s Executive Board. The Executive Board (EB), in collaboration with the Board of Directors, plays a pivotal role in the compamny’s strategic decision-making across various business verticals and its functions. The addition of  Vyas and Malhotra, with their respective vast individual career experiences, will further strengthen the EB to bring in the wider operational business perspective, in light of the company’s growth strategy. Vyas, a UK citizen, who joined the company in 2003 is responsible for all business operations in Africa (including Turkey), CIS and Eastern Europe, Europe and Americas and Australasia. Malhotra, an Indian citizen,  who joined the company in 2013 is responsible for all business operations in Middle East, South Asia and China. Both of them have handled various leadership responsibilities across geographies for the company, and are also responsible for the strengthening of key client government relationships. Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global, commented, “We are proud to have dynamic and experienced leaders of the calibre of Jiten and Vinay, who have been instrumental to our global success in growing rapidly and serving now 62 client governments. As we further expand our scope of business, we look forward to having their considerable and combined expertise add value to matters of strategy and corporate development.”

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Azerbaijan Tourism Board appoints Blue Square Consultants as India representative

Blue Square Consultants has been appointed as the representative for Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) in India. It will be responsible to build and develop strong relations with key tourism and hospitality entities and trade partners to grow and strengthen the tourism potential of the destination in the Indian market. Confirming the appointment, Sevinj Zeynalli, International Market Management Director, Azerbaijan Tourism Board, said, “India being an important outbound market, we’re pleased to partner with a highly reputed organisation like Blue Square Consultants that has a strong foothold across different cities in India. Owing to their successful track record, we are confident that their expertise will help us gain greater visibility and we look forward to welcoming more Indians on their holiday to Azerbaijan”. Lubaina Sheerazi, COO, Blue Square Consultants, stated, “We are delighted to represent the magnificent country of Azerbaijan and drive it as a preferred leisure destination for Indian travellers. The strategy is to tap into the growing outbound market and change perceptions to showcase the tourism prospects of Azerbaijan. We have the requisite knowledge and an excellent track record in managing various tourism boards and the recent appointment is a reaffirmation of our proficiency in the travel sector”.

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Siris and Evergreen to acquire Travelport for $4.4 billion

Travelport has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by affiliates of Siris Capital Group and Evergreen Coast Capital in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $4.4 billion. Under the agreement, Siris and Evergreen will acquire all the outstanding common shares of Travelport for $15.75 per share in cash. The Board of Directors of Travelport unanimously approved the agreement and recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the transaction. Elliott and its affiliates have agreed to vote the common shares owned by them in favour of the transaction. Doug Steenland, Chairman — Board of Directors, Travelport, said, “This is a good outcome for Travelport’s shareholders. Assisted by external advisers, the Board concluded unanimously, after taking into account the ongoing development needs of the business that entering into this agreement represents the best way to maximise value for shareholders. It also enables the company to continue its work to position itself for growth in the evolving global travel industry.” Frank Baker, Co-Founder, Siris Capital, added, “Travelport has an impressive track record of developing and bringing to market best-in-class distribution capabilities, technology services, innovative payment solutions and other value-added digital tools for the global travel industry. We have been impressed by the company’s industry-leading GDS technology platform, which supports mission-critical transactions for both travel providers and agents. At the same time, Travelport is redefining the travel payments industry through eNett, a disruptive and fast-growing leader in secure, virtual travel payments. Siris looks forward to partnering with the company’s management team and Evergreen in this next phase of Travelport’s evolution and growth as a private company.” Travelport may actively solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a “go-shop” period from the date …

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FHRAI meets MakeMyTrip officials to discuss reduction in commission charges by OTAs

The Federation of Hotels & Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI), along with its regional associations, met four representatives from MakeMyTrip to discuss reduction of the commission charged by the OTAs to 15-18 per cent. The meeting was attended by Surendra Jaiswal, President, HRANI and Vice President, FHRAI, along with Garish Oberoi, Immediate Past President, FHRAI and Treasurer, HRANI. Also present at the meeting were Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, HRAWI, along with some of the Executive Committee members. Another points discussed in the meeting include ceasing discretionary positioning and self-rating by properties since they have no authority to rate hotels or mention star ratings based on reviews; no predatory pricing and no further discount on rooms without consent of hotels. Apart from it, the association wants that discounting on rooms and its display will be done after the express consent of the hotel and not via the extranet. Several other points raised in the meeting included the service charge on hotel room booking to be rephrased and given a different nomenclature to avoid taxation issues for the hotel, the burden of the loyalty points and discounts passed to their guests to be borne by them from the commission and not to be passed to hotels, a full break-up of pricing in case rate is displayed with full board, commission to be levied on room only and the component of food should not attract any commission, PLBs only with express agreement with hotels not blanket, PLB taxation to be borne by MMT and not the hotel and illegal hotels apartments, B&B to be immediately delisted from the portals — only legal  properties to be listed.

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MOT formulates guidelines for approval of Online Travel Aggregators

The Ministry of Tourism (MOT) has formulated the guidelines for approval/re-approval of Online Travel Aggregators (OTAs). The scheme is expected to set standards towards accreditation and add value to the dependability and reliability to the aggregators in the online space operating in the organised tourism sector. This is a voluntary scheme open to bonafide online travel aggregators to bring them on a common platform in the organised sector and the guidelines will be rolled out online by year end. There are several players in the OTA segment operating now without any accreditation/validation. One of the risks of letting the market operate unhindered is that unscrupulous players can vitiate the entire market through unethical trade practices. In order to engage with the OTAs constructively, it is imperative that a system is put in place with qualitative benchmarks to accredit them. The paramount concern would be the assurance of quality of service delivery for the customer by the OTA. The major features of the guidelines are: recognition as an approved OTA shall be granted by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, for five years, based on the inspection report/recommendations of a committee comprising the concerned Regional Director (RD), a representative of FHRAI and a representative of IATO, and approval of Competent Authority (Chairman, HRACC); the re-approval shall be granted for five years after inspection conducted by a committee of the same constitution, based upon an application, complete and free from all deficiencies, made by OTA along with the requisite fee/documents on the online platform, at least a clear 6 months prior to the expiry of the previous approval. In case the application is complete in all respects and free from all deficiencies is …

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Vistara extends longstanding distribution agreement with Amadeus

Vistara and Amadeus have renewed a multi-year distribution agreement that guarantees Vistara’s travel agency partners’ continued access to the airline’s full range of fares and prices through Amadeus. Amadeus Airline Fare Families supports Vistara in making its branded fares, called Vistara Freedom Fares, available through the Amadeus distribution channel. Amadeus Fare Families will empower travel agents with clear, structured information they need to advise their customers and proactively upsell from one fare family to the other based on each traveller’s needs and preferences. Vistara will also be looking at integrating ancillary services in the future as part of their product offerings. This partnership will enable Vistara to further grow its customer base by continuing to connect to travellers globally through the world’s largest community of travel sellers and buyers. By connecting to Amadeus’ innovative travel platform, Vistara is able to define and deliver enhanced offers, including rich content, to travel agents and travellers. The airline is also now able to differentiate its travel offers beyond just price, while ensuring that agencies and travellers have all the information at hand in order to make the right purchasing decisions. Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, Vistara, commented, “We are pleased to continue our successful partnership with Amadeus. Travel agencies are a key part of our strategy to serve our customers through the channel of their choice, both in India and internationally. With the new agreement, we will have access to Amadeus’ global travel agency network which has the widest reach of travellers globally and this is a significant agreement in our growth strategy.” Cyril Tetaz, Executive Vice President — Airlines, Amadeus, Asia Pacific, said, “We’re very proud to be able to …

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Cox & Kings introduces culinary tours in India crafted by food experts

‘Tour to Feast’, powered by Cox & Kings has been launched to introduce travellers to unique handcrafted delicious journeys across India’s most popular culinary destinations, with a slice of history. Each of these journeys is designed and accompanied by hand-picked experts who will take travellers through the evolution of the indigenous cuisines of each region. To begin with, ‘Tour to Feast’ will offer journeys across the most popular culinary destinations in India like Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Agra and Goa. Travellers can choose from an array of customised culinary holidays. Speaking at the launch, Debolin Sen, Head, Tour to Feast said, “Our distinctly crafted tours take travellers beyond just restaurant tastings, give a taste of a region’s culture through its cuisine. Whether you want to taste food through bazaars, food walks or home dining experiences, cook like a local or just curious to know about the origins of the most celebrated cuisines, we have all that covered under Tour to Feast which promises to offer authentic culinary experiences like no one else.” Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings said, “We see a substantial increase in the number of tourists integrating culinary tours as part of their travel experiences. In India, each state has unique flavours, delectable cuisines and such amazing stories of bygone eras and their influence on food – the richness of these experiences needs to be presented in a very unique way and through a niche offering like Tour to Feast.”    

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