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Luxury travel yet to mature in Indian market, feel agents

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KAHINI CHAKRABORTYMumbai

Terming luxury as a subjective concept, certain travel agents feel that the Indian market is still not ready to sell exclusive luxury travel products. Even though this niche segment holds immense potential, the challenge for them lies in educating the frontline staff to sell authentic and unique products. This was the general perspective during the session ‘Luxury travelling with the big spenders’ at the recently concluded MICE India & Luxury Travel Congress organised by QnA International held in Mumbai.

Stressing on the need for luxury travel to be unique and authentic, Rajeev Wagle, managing director, Kuoni said that today’s travellers are discerning about their spending choices, hence there is a need for travel agents to be well equipped in selling new experiences. “We haven’t yet perfected in the way we sell luxury products to clients. There is an urgent need for research from our end to be well versed in the market as there are segments which will keep growing rapidly. The interesting part is that it is not only the metro cities but also travellers from smaller cities who have been expressing the need to experience luxury travel. The younger generation have been fuelling the demand to experience adventure tours, sports tours, etc, and work with select vendors.”

But even though Indians react differently to financial matters, they are known to be the highest travel spenders. Giving his opinion on the same, Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director, Creative Travel added, “We do react differently to money matters but luxury is a subjective matter. The challenge is that we still don’t know how to sell luxury travel. And since we all generally have our staff from the middle-class category who would not know about luxury products, there is an urgent need to keep educating the staff for them to be confident to sell something unique.”

Giving his opinion on the subject, Guldeep Singh Sahni, MD, Weldon Tours & Travels and president, Ooutbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) said, “Luxury cannot be defined but it is something that cannot be commonly found as well. Travel agents need to put in the ‘experience element’ in their tours rather than only provide luxury hotels and airline facilities.” Agreeing on the same, Mahesh Shirodkar, MD, Tamarind Tours opined, “Luxury travel segment has the evolved traveller class and hence the challenge faced is that the end user is already accessing luxury choices information on their own. Definitely it is a segment which will see growth as disposable income has never been an issue which is evident from the business class and first class occupancies in the air sector.”

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