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Sustaining the leadership role

Innovative and experienced entrepreneur, with over-the-top deliverance reputation, Vasudha Sondhi, Managing Director, Outbound Marketing & Connect Worldwide India, known for conceptualising and strategising shares more with TTJ.

Sonika Bhandari

The year 2002 turned out to be decisive, with the commencement of her own venture, Outbound Marketing, to cater to the demand for new market approaches, empowered with excellent relationships with travel agents, tour operators, airlines, corporates, the media and the government. Outbound Marketing is amongst the top hotel sales and marketing companies and has been working with top-notch brands.

Looking at 2020, Vasudha feels, “The pace of the evolving consumer dynamics will ensure that we start 2020 by investing in a good pair of running shoes. The need of the hour is to start with the basics, be it the marketing plans, setting the objectives and goals and questioning what has been done so far and put the strategy on its head, design the customer experience, leverage digital assets and integrate the human touch and maybe blur the lines of reality.”

With creativity as her forte, Vasudha adds, “We need more data, better data and innovative ways to understand the data, making it easier to make smart decisions. The travel industry will need to view technology as an opportunity to flourish. Travel agencies will need to embrace disruption to empower themselves with the best tools of the trade and communicate their expertise to those considering the DIY approach.”

Laying import on human resource, Vasudha emphasises, “People-first approach will ensure the longevity and relevance of brick and mortar agencies. Our industry, especially the travel trade industry lacks skilled manpower and is not attracting the best talent. The argument sometimes is about agencies being boutique and owner driven. There is nothing wrong with that business model, and in fact boutique is a good way to grow. Even boutique agencies need a professional, accountable, empowered and ownership driven team. Such a team will ensure that they go beyond their call of duty to deliver experiences which is what today’s customer will want from an agency.”

On the issue of thriving while remaining relevant to the ecosystem dynamics Vasudha asserts, “The big sustainability issue is no longer distant. I passionately believe that the travel industry needs to play a key role. We will need to go beyond compliance or regulation and drive efficiency. We will need to be advocates of social-impact travel experiences. It is very real and our industry will be affected the most. All my bets are on making travel and experiences sustainable. In India, I would absolutely like to see each and every hotel, restaurant and tour operator being conscious of this fact and doing everything that will keep our heritage and nature intact, as much as possible, including spending a part of our earnings on waste management. Making oneself accountable for the planet is the need of the hour as sustainability is increasingly paired with travel. We are already late, but all is not lost. Sustainability and responsible tourism will need to be more than marketing gimmicks. It needs to become a core business practice.”

“Adapting to the changing needs of the market, be it technology or community related, will keep us ahead of the curve. With artificial intelligence and an enormous amount of data at our disposal, we can personalise offers for higher revenue generation. With a greater role of travel advisors, customer personalisation and advancement in technology we can expect another eventful year for the travel industry in 2020,” rounds off Vasudha.