This year witnessed a surge in business and leisure travel, benefitting the small and medium scale companies of the Middle East region. In an interview with TRAVTALK, JVR Fernando, Chief Commercial Officer, Satguru, shares the various new trends and the rise of bleisure travel. He underllines the fact that despite digital facilities, everyone wants to close a deal in person and not online.
Dr. Shehara Rizly
Face to face business meeting has become an important aspect in most companies across the Middle East region. There is a tremendous increase in intra GCC business travel, including Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. JVR Fernando, Chief Commercial Officer, Satguru, says today business travel has become imperative, especially for the small and medium corporates. “People say now they have all types of digital platforms, so why travel, but the reality is different, everyone wants to close a deal face to face and not online. When we, as corporates, need to have a fruitful relationship, we ensure that we meet the client face to face,” he says.
Digital platforms have been the way in making sure that the networking between companies and individuals remain intact, but as soon as borders opened, we witnessed the enthusiasm, as every individual started travelling for both business and leisure. Fernando added, “Some impact was present earlier, as people had to switch onto digital platforms. For example, for business meetings, people are sticking to online sessions instead of travelling rather than keeping it as a last resort. Personally, I don’t like to do any online meetings. If you ask, is it the best way? No. That can be used when you are unable to travel, but when you are closing deals or having business relations, in-person is that takes you to a different level. For business travel, it mainly consists of small and medium businesses. Smaller businesses have grown interest in business travel after the pandemic. So, if you look at the budgets, they have gone up from 50 per cent to 100 per cent; that is really shocking to see that they are really looking into travel. Not only that, but they are also looking in areas where they are not looking at the price, as they are more focused on the safety of the employees. Even when looking for places to stay, they are looking at safe accommodation, paying a little more. They are focusing on safety measures, which they have increased the budget on.”
Fernando reiterated on the new trends of outbound bleisure travel. “There are two types of travel, one is business, and one is leisure. If you look at it, this new trend is clubbing business with leisure. As people were not travelling during the pandemic, now the new trend is that when they would travel for business, their family would join them. Even when a person travels for business, they are not in a hurry to return on the next flight. They want to extend their stay for a day or two. Moreover, people are not currently staying in big hotel chains; they are looking at alternate accommodation like Airbnb. They are not looking for just a place to stay, they are looking for a place that feels like home away from home. That is another trend that I think is coming up,” he concluded.