Let’s travel together.

Dubai calling

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The journey of Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA) began in 1995 when Naveen Advani and a few other non-IATA travel agents started meeting and later Kamlesh Amin and Karl Dantas were requested to join the core group and be a part of the think-tank for putting together an association to represent the interest of non-IATA retail agents. Reminiscing about the journey, Karl Dantas said, “We kept meeting once a month for almost a year putting together various kinds of points asking various people from the industry what were their needs and after getting that core group from 10 to 30 people together, we started trying to put together a constitution, that is called Memorandum and Articles of Association. And then it was decided that we would register ourselves as a company under section 25A as a not-for-profit body. I credit Advani for starting this entire initiative.”

Karl Dantas

When ETAA got their constitution put together and wanted to make an application to the Registrars of Companies (ROC), there was a need to call for a meeting of the promoters. “The association’s first meeting was held in 1996 at the Radio Club where over 100 people participated and a vote on a secret ballet on names for the association was done. Because as per the ROC you are required to give four names for the company,” he added. As the ROC process for finalising the company name takes six months to a year, ETAA was registered in 1998. Talking about the challenges faced as the president of the association, he opined, “The journey has been good so far in the industry as people were enthusiastic initially but unfortunately due to the mentality in the travel trade the other associations did not like the idea of ETAA coming into place and was laid up for over a year. There was a lull in ETAA for about four years. But both Amin and myself bounced back in 2009 and revamped the association and in a matter of four years we now have 527 members. Over the years, the business evolved and the industry changed. So even when the zero per cent commission issue took place it was relevant to ETAA as Amin, Advani and myself read between the lines and we knew that IATA will be irrelevant at the end of the day. There will soon be a time when IATA and non-IATA agents will be integrated. Our vision has come true.”

Kamlesh Amin

While fondly remembering his colleague, he said, “Amin was a very unique person in the industry. After he came back from his illness he realised that there was a total vacuum of people with knowledge. So rather than going back to his original business of ticketing and packaged tours, he became one of the few Mumbai city tour guides listed on Lonely Planet as he had limitations because of his health. While doing his ticketing and packaged tours through someone else he created a unique niche for himself. He continued to help the industry whether it was ETAA or non-ETAA members and also dedicated his time to the association.”

It was Amin’s suggestion that Karl Dantas be conferred with the Chairman Emeritus title. “When I retired in February this year, Amin had suggested that I be conferred with the Chairman Emeritus title, which I had not accepted as I wanted to withdraw myself from the travel industry. He kept requesting me to accept the title, and I had asked him for time to think over it. But he passed away suddenly in April this year and as a mark of respect I decided to re-dedicate my life for another six months for ETAA in honour of Amin. Right now I have gone back to the daily affairs of ETAA and help them in organising the convention. But I don’t do anything with the industry anymore. I am only guiding ETAA members because Amin is not around. But to fill a void of two people is impossible. So if he was alive, I would have not need to do this. This international convention is my dedication to Amin.”

On his expectation from the convention, he expressed, “After we announced the convention on September 30, 2013, in 24 days our membership went up to 96 , which is 35 per cent increase in membership. What is surprising is that not all have joined to come to Dubai because only half (45-50 people) of them are coming for the convention. These people have joined us because they want to know more about the association and industry, as I went to Nagpur, Indore and many other places talking to people about ETAA. ETAA has lagged behind because of lack of organisational power, but we are now growing and we the retail non-IATA agents and the retail IATA agents have come in as allied members.”

Dubai in your palm
What is the theme of the convention this year? Why did you choose Dubai as the destination for your first international convention?

Naveen Advani

The theme of the convention is ‘Dubai in your palm’. Dubai is a well known destination and has been advertised very well. Besides it is a short haul from India and is also affordable. DTCM has given us a good sponsorship which has helped us to subsidise our members.

How many delegates are expected to attend the convention in Dubai?

We are expecting 320 delegates to attend the Dubai certification programme which will be held offline for the members. DTCM conducts the certification programme usually online but they are doing it offline for our members for the first time.

Could you inform us on the business sessions which will be held at the convention?

We do not believe in organising business sessions. There will be a gala dinner on the first day while the second day will have the certification programme and the third day our sponsors will showcase their products with networking session.

What benefit will the members have from this convention? What are your expectations from the convention?

It is for the first time that a foreign authority body has seen potential in non- IATA members. Our members will get first-hand experience of the destination along with gaining the Dubai certification programme so that it is easier for them to sell Dubai. After the convention, I am sure the footfalls to Dubai will increase.

Naveen Advani, President, ETAA

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