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‘Today trust is the new currency’: Suman Bhalla, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)


Hyderabad, December 09, 2020: The tourism industry is the worst affected. It lost 142.6 million jobs already and expected to reach 197 million by the end of the year, said Kamal Vardhan Rao, CMD of ITDC and the Moderator, initiating the panel discussion ‘The road to recovery of the Travel & Tourism Public & Private Sector post-Covid- 19’.

The sector has lost the US $ 3.8 trillion and which is going to go up to 5.5 trillion, he added

Speaking further he said, Tourism contributes 10.8% to their GDP, India 6.8%, Maldives 56% and Mauritius 18.8%.

He listed out how various countries have come to the rescue of the tourism sector by way incentives such as Australia giving 100% grant, Austria, Japan and UK giving unsecured loans; Hungary, New Zealand debt forgiveness, UK reducing VAT, India INR 340 bn support to SME sector.

‘Every sector’ is talking about ‘revival’, but ‘tourism’ industry is talking about ‘survival, he said.

Suman Billa of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said the sector is not going to be the same in future. We must encourage domestic travel to boost tourism, to begin with. To encourage this, Japan is funding 50% of domestic travel. There has to be coordinated effort to ensure predictability he said. He cited an example that in future, passengers may be allowed to travel only on production of Vaccinated Certificates by some nations, he said

Speaking further Suman Bhalla said ‘today trust is the new currency’. We need to regain the trust of the travellers that it is safe to travel.

Ritesh Agarwal of the OYO said Data Science and AI will gain a lot of importance as people are going to book rooms through the digital medium. Loyalty, personalization is going to be very key factors.

More people in Denmark and Belgium proved to the rest of the world by travelling increasingly within their country. Which indicates that more and more people start travelling domestic destinations? He hoped that travel will come back. Human beings are social animals, we would not like to spend full time indoors.

People are showing more interest in the holiday’s homes. The reason for that is because of uncertain times, also because these offer private spaces while maintaining physical distance.

Domestic holidays will continue for a longer time. Domestic travellers may choose places close to nature, he said. And added that small is the new big. Small hotels, vacation homes will be preferred more in future he said.

Shobha Mohan suggested various methods to improve the tourism sector.

Employees First, Customers Next

In a keynote speech at the ongoing TiE Global Summit 2020, Vineet Nayar, former CEO of HCL Technologies spoke on why it is employees first and customers second for him. He said that learning to say yes when everybody is saying no is the mantra for success.

When the IT services firm HCL Technologies was facing a crisis and he was looking for answers. He and his team asked questions to themselves. What business are we in? And the answer was that we were creating value for our customers. Where does it get created and how is it created? The value is created when customers and employees interface. And so another question arose “If our employee is creating value, when what is the role of managers and management? The answer was to encourage and enable employees. That’s how the concept was born. The conventional management was turned upside down and the concept of ‘employees first, customers second’ was adopted and it transformed the company, Vineet said. The customers and revenues grew and employment satisfaction increased, he added.

He also spoke about the Sampark Foundation that was started when he quit HCL to give back to society. Using the same learnings from the ‘employees first, customers second’ approach, Sampark Foundation was able to make a difference. This very thought process of Mr. Nayar lead to value creation and thereafter the foundation embarked on focused on encouraging and enabling them with innovation. Today, the Sampark Foundation is transforming learning outcomes for one crore children studying in 84,000 schools.

Speaking on the current Covid crisis, Vineet Nayar was critical of the way the companies abandoned employees in the crisis. He said that industrial-age management principles need to change and companies need to become employee-centric. The firing, purging of employees is wrong, he felt. Think about your employees, stand by them and it is they that create value to the organization. If you do that they will stand by you and your organization will be successful and nobody will be able to catch up, he said.

‘Zero to 1000 crores’

A session titled ‘Zero to 1000 crores’ had Bhat Dittakavi in conversation with Yashish Dahiya, Founder of PolicyBazaar. Speaking on creating a billion-dollar business, Yashish Dahiya shared his experiences, key insights and business perspectives for aspiring entrepreneurs. He spoke about believing in the idea, sticking to it with perseverance. He recalled how PolicyBazaar was co-founded by 18 people who were ready to live without a salary for months because they believed in the idea of the company.

A good business plan is needed. We did not do anything different from the competition. We were earlier just advertising and lead generation business. Later on, in 2011-12 we went from lead generation to sales model. After that, the plans never changed, and when competitors found it tough and shifted back to lead generation, we kept at it. And it bore fruits, later on, Yashish informed.

Today, PolicyBazaar does one million transactions a month across life, health, auto, and investment-linked insurance products and has the largest market share in online insurance.

Innovation in Agriculture: An Idea whose time has come

A panel discussion ‘Innovation in Agriculture: An idea whose time has come’ showcased how their companies were using technology to yield new growth in agriculture. The discussion was moderated by Hemendra Mathur of Bharat Innovation Fund (AgTech) and it had Vihari Kanukollu, Co-founder – UrbanKisaan; Anil Kumar S.G., Founder and CEO, Sammunati and Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Cropin as panellists. The panellists shared their experiences and journey of using tech-driven innovation in agriculture.

Krishna Kumar of Cropin shared how their data-driven tools help in decision making for agri-businesses. Live reporting, analysis, insights, etc. give information to predict trends, yields, etc. Data is going to play a major role in agriculture. Today, we use A.I. too along with the data, Krishna informed. From advanced satellite imagery, historical and real-time data, weather, etc. help to address the problems for farmers, Krishna informed.

S.G. Anil Kumar of Samunnati, an NBFC operating in agricultural space talked about their model to fund agricultural activities. Using their A.M.L.A. approach (Aggregation, Marketing Linkage and Advisory Services), farmers come together for collective welfare and produce. The farmer collective benefits farmers like reducing input cost and also selling their produce. Samunnati works with Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and helps farmers improve credit flow and brings the benefits of aggregation, market linkage and advisory services to these farmers.

Another entrepreneur Vihari Kanukollu, Co-founder – UrbanKisaan shared how his agri-tech startup helps farmers to increase production 6 to 8 times using the same area of land with vertical hydroponic cultivation. The hydroponic farming is not new but most of the research had happened in the US and cultivation was limited to lettuces and such. UrbanKisaan has researched and now has around 60 varieties of vegetables that can be grown hydroponically with minimal use of soil and water, informed Vihari.

Fostering Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation is different from innovation. Aadhar, I-phone, UPI and things like that can be named as disruptive innovations.

They are innovations that created a new market, a value network. That ultimately disrupted an existing market or value network. These innovations displaced many established market-leading companies, business models, products and offerings observed, the panelists.

These innovations can be lead by technology or business models. They combine technology and creativity.

Fostering Disruptive Innovation session was moderated by Pradeep Gupta of CyberMedia. The panellists include; Nagendra Bandaru, Naveen Gullapalli, Ravindra Kelkar, Saumer Phukan (Intel), Puneet Chhahira (Head of Marketing and FinTech Engagements, Infosys Finacle).

Naveen Gullapalli said Disruptive Innovation is a must. Two things corporates must focus on are developing ecosystem and innovation culture.

Future of Innovation in India

Santanu Bhattacharya, Chief Data Scientist, Airtel X Labs said we were the innovative nation in the world. Our good old architecture, construction and metallurgy all talk about innovation.

Innovation is seen for business growth. But, innovations make a huge difference to the way we live and work. Low cost and high innovations are very important felt the panel.

The panellists include Atul Batra- CTO, Manthan; Santanu Bhattacharya, Chief Data Scientist, Airtel X Labs; Dale Vaz, Chief Technology Officer at Swiggy; Sandeep Maini, Chairman at Maini Group

Updated on December 11, 2020