India Market Is Price Sensitive: Vishal Sinha, CEO, CWT
Vishal Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) speaks on how the brand is responsible for growing business in India, particularly with local companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), many of whom do not yet have managed travel programs
Vishal Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) leads CWT India’s team of over 1,200 people across nine offices, delivering an exceptional customer experience to more than 180 corporate clients in India. He is also responsible for growing CWT’s business in India, particularly with local companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), many of whom do not yet have managed travel programs.
With more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry, including considerable international experience, Sinha joined the company to largely look after its managed travel programmes. Speaking to BW Businessworld, he points out how CWT ensures an effective and holistic approach towards their clients. “Managed corporate travel is not about issuing an airline ticket, booking a hotel or a car but it goes beyond this; to ensure one spends and gets the right return on travel booking. We look at trends in travel – where the travellers fly, their preferences, safety and security and duty of care,” says Sinha.
A corporate traveller looks for his approval process and an expense management system for a seamless travel experience. The mobile application called ‘CWT to go’ helps retrieve bookings, online check-ins, PNR reference, airlines and more – an advanced technology packed with incredible experience for users.
CWT helps a corporate to develop their travel policies. “We have invested in technology with a budget that has gone up by 61% as compared to last year. We largely focus on secured technology and enhanced customer service and that’s how we are different,” he adds.
Speaking about India market, Sinha feels that it is fairly price-sensitive as compared to the global market. “So we provide solutions to corporates where they can save money. By pointing them in the right direction in terms of choice of airlines, vendors that they choose and how they manage their travel programs,” he says.
As a global company and having partners across the world with most suppliers, CWT helps secure better deals. How? “Our experience, it’s not only about deals, it’s about how you structure policies. Most companies in India have an approval process for domestic travellers. The interesting thing is 99% of these travel requests never get rejected. But they still go through a process of approval. Ideally what happens is because the fares are so dynamic every 2 hours the fares increases by an x percentage. If you cut down on the approval time you can save your fares by 10-12%. So it’s more about pointing to the corporate that why are you doing this? What is the benefit you are getting? And most corporates are considering this point, thus, changing the way you make bookings,” he says.
The idea of managed corporate travel is evolving and picking up fast. Many companies, especially Indian companies, with global aspirations or global offices are looking at being able to manage their travel programs. CWT is present in 150 countries and has 18000 people working that have actually helped travellers to be able to come up with one solution for all their offices. “Recently we have heavily invested in technology for the medium size companies and the small companies (SMEs) — a completely self-service online system where you can make bookings and enjoy certain benefits,” he adds.
In India, “CWT for you” an application which looks after the SME segment, is an online platform which allows the flexibility of airline, hotel, and car bookings. “SMEs do not have targets. One can make any number of bookings in a month. While the other segment is looking for managed travel programs with savings, contracting, safety and security, SMEs are smaller segments where they can’t forecast their travel volumes. It’s more about the ease of booking,” says Sinha. In a recent campaign, CWT had close to 750 SME corporates registered via the “CWT for you” app.
Currently, the business travel market in India is at 33 billion dollars and will rise to 90 billion dollars by 2025. India is seeing a growth of 11.3% and there is an appetite for managed travel programs, according to Sinha. “CWT is focussing on analytics as it helps in gauging individuals travel, hotel, airlines, travel spend. Companies that cut down on travel expense are advised not to do so as it does not help you achieve long-term goals,” advises Sinha.