The second edition of FICCI’s Digital Travel, Hospitality and Innovation Summit that was held from March 22-23, 2017, deliberated on the changing spectrum of the tourism and hospitality industry with the advent of technology.
The inaugural session of the Summit was addressed by Suman Billa, Joint Secretary – Tourism, Government of India; Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee and Chairperson and MD, Lalit Suri Hospitality Group; and Rahul Chakravarty, Director and Head – Tourism, FICCI. The show was attended by key stakeholders from the tourism, hospitality, aviation, and travel technology industries. With a majority attendance of 32 per cent by travel agents and tourism operators, hotels and resorts accounted for a 21 per cent attendance, while technology companies and online travel agencies accounted for 22 per cent and nine per cent, respectively. The Summit also introduced Travel Tech Startup Launchpad, FICCI’s maiden initiative to catalyse the growth in India’s travel tech ecosystem and support the growth of young innovative businesses. FICCI received entries from 25 technology start-ups in travel out of which 12 were shortlisted to pitch to the investors at the Summit. The FICCI-Avalon knowledge paper, ‘Travel 2.0 – The Next Generation of Travel’, was also released at the event. The paper details suggestions on mapping the travel industry better and trends that can offer insight to push the growth of the industry.
Addressing the Summit, Billa said, “Travellers are moving away from exploring routes to exploring experiences. Social media is a legitimate research source and reviews are becoming increasingly important. Bloggers, as a marketing channel, have become important as they turn around niche products and create interest groups.” He further explained that the digital explosion that is happening globally has removed the advantage of big players who were enjoying over their smaller counterparts, thus creating a level playing field for everyone. “India, as a destination, cannot move ahead without being fully digitally enabled. The brick and mortar agencies have to embrace the technology curve and take on the challenge,” he added. MoT is also speeding up its digital efforts with steps like managing MoT’s social media handles across digital platforms, strengthening the website with more information, interactive audio visual content, and is also looking at augmented and virtual reality as powerful tools to boost tourism, informed Billa.
Suri added, “Adapting and adopting technology is the need of the hour and at FICCI we are happy to take on this vertical and offer a platform for thoughtful discussions and deliberation on the future of travel.” She pointed out that FICCI, as a chamber body, has always supported the government’s initiatives, playing catalysts to encourage modernisation and innovation. “FICCI continuously engages in such forums which throw up various suggestions and the outcomes are shared with relevant ministries for their understanding and possible implementation,” added Suri.