Touted as one of the most dedicated travel personalities in the region with a career spanning over 37 years, Asim Arshad, Group CEO, Orient Travel and Tourism, truly deserves his rightful honour of being ranked 19th among the top 50 Indian Executives in the Arab World in 2017. Meet TravTalk’s personality of the month for September as we unravel his secret to success.
Asim Arshad is synonymous with the Orient Travel brand. At the helm of the company for over 37 years, Arshad has been a pioneer and leading strategist for Orient Travel as well as the industry within the region. His direction and culture disposition has taken Orient Travel to great heights and their achievements speak for themselves.
Orient Travel’s corporate travel services meet the highly individualised travel needs of companies and their people through a blend of technology and personalised service. They solely represent Carlson Wagonlit Travel in the UAE, a global leader with a presence in over 150 countries specialising in corporate travel management. With a strong reputation for providing market-leading solutions to corporate travellers, Orient Travel provides integrated online booking tools, programme optimisation through in-depth diagnostic analysis, risk management solutions, traveller assistance services, etc. all form part of our customised solutions.
Besides, Orient Travel Group comprises Corporate Travel, Holidays, Leisure & GSA Affairs; Orient Tours, the inbound Destination Management Company, and Orient Cargo (Freight division). Arshad started his career as a management trainee in TCI (Travel Corporation of India), New Delhi, and then left for Muscat to work for Ehab Travel in 1979 for exploring greener pastures. In March 1981, he moved to Sharjah, UAE, to join Orient Travel and today after nearly four decades, he still holds fort as the leading executive in the company ensuring that there is a steady growth plan over the years. In 1985, he was promoted to the position of Sales Manager and subsequently given the nod to lead the company in 1986. The same year, he was promoted as the CEO of the group with approximately 35 employees within his ambit. Today, the Orient Group employs over 600 travel professionals, which is a sizeable strength for this part of the world.
Established in 1963, Orient Travel is now in its 54th year of operation, a milestone for any travel business in the region. Spread across the UAE, with more than 25 strategically located offices and more than 10 implant offices, it is the only travel agency with branches in all the seven emirates of the UAE. In 2014, Orient Travel was appointed the sole partner in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Sultanate of Oman for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, catapulting it to unprecedented growth. Fully operational offices in Doha, Bahrain, Muscat & Kuwait now make Orient Travel a leading regional player in the Middle East.
Managing GSA representation of over a dozen international airlines, Orient Travel services some of the largest corporate portfolios in the country including sizeable clients who feature in the Fortune 100 companies.
Arshad throughout his career at Orient gained many achievements both at a professional level and personal as well. Professionally, the biggest achievement was when he obtained Orient Travel the partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel for five countries i.e. UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. In 2009, he was awarded by the CEO Clubs UAE Chapter for his valuable contribution to the travel industry.
Having been in the industry for a while, Arshad stated how the industry has changed its course today and how it was when he first came in to the industry. “The industry has gone through a big change from the time I landed into the UAE. In 1981, everything was manually driven, technology did not have much of a role. Everything from the booking process, to the ticket issuances, etc. were all manual and our communication link was something known as SITA. However, today, technology is driving how we live, work and travel. Technology is what has record power and is rapidly changing our industry today. It is now completely automated. Customers expect to find what they need anytime, anywhere and any way they want it. From a travel agent, they expect the best price and the best service. Indeed, they are more demanding because supply is in abundance and technology is also disrupting and enabling the value chain. For example, OTAs, social media, etc. The customer demands are timeless because they have always wanted the best price and excellent service. That is what they demand today, that is what they will demand tomorrow and that is what they will demand the day after. Basically, I don’t see a change in the demand pattern but the requirements/ needs of customers will vary vis-à-vis products.”