Industry would be a better place post GST, ready to provide inputs: Karan Anand

TourismFirst buttonholed Karan Anand, Head, Relationships and Supplier Management, Cox & Kings India on the sidelines of the launch of their new brand Holiday Clubs. Apart from the brand, Karan Anand also shed light on some key markets, destinations, target audience, as well as the impact of GST on the industry as a whole. Edited excerpts:

55What are some new markets that you are looking in the near future?

Well how we are hoping to expand is that we will be looking at going metro. Simultaneously, there will be some tier-II, tier-III cities that we will be looking at. We have not yet been able to finalise the next stage of the plan and we will keep you informed as and when that unfolds.

Any priorities as far as destinations are concerned?

We are looking at existing blockbuster destinations which are your short-haul as well as new places in Europe. North, East and Southern Europe are the priority. We are also looking at Latin America as well as island destinations but with a difference.

You have launched a new brand called Holiday Clubs at 4 locations in Delhi. What is audience that you are looking to target with this brand?

Delhi is one of our key markets and these ‘concept stores’ are meant to provide customers with a unique shopping experience. Our target audience will be the Foreign individual travellers (FITs), small groups, small families, of course you have to mention the millennials as well as the young couples. These I would say constitute the target audience but we are also looking at the middle-aged segment which is the bulwark of travel out of India. These people will also be getting the opportunity to come and experience this and personalise their experiences for themselves.

These locations must already have established tour operators running their operations. What about the competition? What makes your brand different?

In all fairness, as you all are aware, there are very few pan India players in the holiday package business. Keeping that in mind, we are in areas where we welcome the footfalls. We compete with small, family run and niche travel agencies and we welcome them. I believe there is enough space in the market for everyone. You have to remember that Cox and Kings is an established brand and our product pipeline is bound to keep us ahead of the curve. We have a broad spectrum of products that we will bring and this is something that would be very difficult to match without the infrastructure to support it.

Would you say that the target audience is the affluent class?

It is middle class as well as affluent. You must understand that for India, most of our outbound travel is by air. But the good thing is that we can fly to about 20-25 countries. Because of the volumes, luckily the rupee has been stable and even more importantly oil prices have been subdued for the airfares. So, the air pricing has been very attractive and the value that Indians are getting for holidays abroad are sometimes more than what they get while travelling within India.

Any comments on GST?

Well, it is a new initiative and I believe that it is going to be beneficial for the country in the overall scheme of things. There are some wrinkles which will get ironed out but I believe that our travel industry on whole and large will be in a better place. I believe the one big challenge that is being faced is by the hotel industry in terms of tax slab. I have full faith that the government has embarked on a difficult but extremely crucial venture. We wish them all the success and they have all our support. We are ready to provide our inputs as and when required to make it fair and equitable and ensure that it is progressive. We have to make sure that the policies keep in mind all the players’ interests safe and secure. That is what we hope for and our confident that the target will be reached.

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