60 seconds with Rakshit Desai

 

Why are China and India slated to become the next big destination for global travel programmes? And what do buyers/managers need to be aware of?

  • China and India are now home to a third of the world’s population and have experienced rapid economic growth over the last two decades. India broke into the top 10 economies of the world in 2015 and is likely to break into the top 5 this year. Western capital chased productivity gains by offshoring the manufacturing of goods (China) and services (India), triggering investment and consumption-led booms.
  • The Indian government is in the midst of a massive infrastructure push with the stated objective of adding 100 new airports. Indian carriers, as per CAPA, have 1000 aircraft on order. The rate of capacity addition, the accessibility brought to hitherto remote locations will multiply the complexity of managing travel programmes in India
  • Travel managers also need to negotiate the usual cultural issues, dynamic contexts and inapplicability of rules-based frameworks

When it comes to business travel, what keeps you awake at night? 

  • Relevance. The laws of B2C travel also apply to B2E travel. The customer always has a choice and the only way to stay relevant is by understanding the customer’s evolving needs and expectations and mobilising resources to develop relevant solutions. Relevance requires a deep understanding of the customer and supplier environment and a mix of technological assets and human intelligence that need to be upgraded constantly.
  • Regulation. From GDPR to GST, we are experiencing unprecedented regulatory changes and their implications and consequences won’t be apparent for a while.

What innovation will make the biggest impact on travel management in the next 12 months? 

The convergence of big data, connectivity and open standards will enable a shift from historic analysis to greater predictive capabilities bringing significant changes to the way Companies source and manage travel and travel related services, effectively also enlarging the scope to a total trip view.

How will business travel look in 2022? 

Different. Geopolitical changes in America and Europe present significant challenges to what was until recently an irreversible blurring of geographic boundaries. Acceleration of technological changes, the abundance of cheap and patient capital chasing very large scale with multi-year horizons and increased regulatory intervention all make painting an accurate picture virtually impossible. We will see simultaneous consolidation and fragmentation across the travel value chain.

How will managing business travel look in 2022? 

Not terribly different for customers. Their basic needs remain unchanged – value, convenience, safety, transparency, choice, stability and increasingly sustainability.

Very different for service providers who will need to cope with everything the sharing economy and other disruptive forces present.

How will the business traveller look in 2022? 

Younger, better informed, more demanding, less forgiving.

How will we, as an industry, best survive the next three years? 

That the industry will survive is given. People won’t stop traveling and will still have service and support requirements so long as the cost of the service is lower than the perceived cost of the user’s time and effort. However, players within the industry will emerge, evolve and die based on how they manage their relevance to the customer.

What will buyers learn from your session?

That one size doesn’t fit all, that India presents significant execution challenges and that the great game is being played out right now.

What drives you mad about corporate travel? What would you put in Room 101?

  • The incessant commoditisation of an essential service
  • Customer C-suite apathy to how travel is managed especially since it impacts valuable human resources in risk and productivity terms
  • Travel programmes need urgent attention from key decision makers as they are strategically relevant to the ecosystem

 

Rakshit Desai is managing director, India, Flight Centre Travel Group. He is a panellist on Stars of the East – getting to grips with managing travel in China and India, taking place 20 February, 13:00 - 14:00. To secure your free ticket to Business Travel Show, please visit www.businesstravelshow.com

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