NTOs and hotels have to look at new ways to keep the source markets warm: Vasudha Sondhi
The Covid-19 pandemic will leave not only businesses but also economies gasping for funds, and therefore budgets for travel and destination marketing will be reviewed. However, new technology platforms will allow destination marketeers to keep their source markets warm, feels Vasudha Sondhi, Managing Director of Outbound Marketing and Jt. Managing Director of OM Tourism.
It’s difficult times for sure, concedes Vasudha at the outset. Although sales and marketing are her forte and it has evolved over the years, and she has adapted to its demands over the decades, the kind of situation that the Covid-19 pandemic has put the world into, is “so sudden and dynamic”. “All our hotels are closed. The destinations we represent are also like what we hear in India might look inwards into domestic for sometime,” she says. Her marketing company handles sales of some of the premium hospitality brands in the world like Onyx Hospitality, Melia Hotels International, The Sun Lux Collection, Corinthia Hotels, and also destinations like Mauritius, Indonesia.
“It will definitely change the way business is done,” confirms Vasudha, although a lot of things are still uncertain as to how long the lockdown and travel restrictions will continue. However, she who came through the rigours of hardcore hotel sales in the beginning of her career is not heavily perturbed. While B2B sales and marketing is her core competence, she and her team has gained sufficient expertise in B2C marketing as well because of the bouquet of clients she handles and their specific demands. But the purpose was not to bypass channels, she clarifies, but to supplement and drive business to the B2B channel partners.
India is an emerging market for a lot of hotel companies and therefore an important source market. However, it is still not the number one market. Considering, most of the number one markets for those companies are struggling now and not able to perform and produce results, will they have money to pump into emerging markets is a big question, she says. So there are chances some clients at least withdrawing from the market to return later, she admits openly assessing the new situation. Moreover, a lot of hotels and other travel services will take time to fully understand the obligations of new WHO protocols for travel and accommodation stakeholders and put in place those SOPs and protocols, she feels.
But India as a source market will continue to charm the travel and tourism stakeholders from across the globe. They might stay dormant for some time for lack of funds for market activities. Those who feel their economy will bounce back even in a year or two, will try to keep the market warm in one way or the other. And, in the changed scenario, they can do it in smart and efficient way at a much-lower cost. “Before Covid-19 crisis, we have been struggling to do anything in the digital space. Today, we see a lot of traction for webinars and virtual events. So even if they are not able to spend a lot in the market, they can continue to engage the market through webinars, targeted digital marketing campaigns,” she said. As a specialised company in the travel and tourism marketing Outbound Marketing and OM Tourism, will explore keeping the market engaged through virtual FAM trips, virtual road shows,etc., she adds
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