Mumbai: VisitBritain held its India Sales Mission 2020 in January in Mumbai and New Delhi. The VisitBritain India Sales Mission gave the UK suppliers an opportunity to meet 300 Indian travel agents and tour operators (buyers) from both cities specialising in leisure, MICE & luxury. The UK suppliers held B2B table-top meetings during the day and partook in lavish networking dinner.
Held in Mumbai and New Delhi, the event saw UK suppliers showcasing destinations and products to leading buyers in India’s travel trade industry
Destination Reporter caught up with Victoria Braddock, Director of International Marketing at Marketing Manchester and Vishal Bhatia, Country Manager India, VisitBritain.
“In 2020, we will be tapping untouched markets like Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh in partnership with UKVI and other trade partners”
Visal Bhatia, Country Manager India, VisitBritain
“India is an important strategic market for Manchester and we have great air connectivity via the Middle East”
Victoria Braddock, Director of International Marketing, Marketing Manchester
In 2019, Manchester was in the limelight due to the ICC Cricket World Cup. “We have witnessed substantial growth since 2013. India is an important strategic market for Manchester and we have great air connectivity via the Middle East,” commented Victoria Braddock, Director of International Marketing at Marketing Manchester.
Manchester is working on securing a direct flight from Mumbai or Delhi. When the now-grounded Jet Airways was operating the Mumbai-Manchester route, it had a load factor no less than 85 per cent. Emirates, Etihad and Oman Air among others offer great connections to Manchester.
Marketing Manchester is leveraging key relationships that VisitBritain has in India and collaborating with agents like MakeMyTrip and Thomas Cook to ensure they have enough content and also to make up for the void left behind by Cox & Kings.
Talking about MICE groups, Braddock said that Marketing Manchester is engaging with agents who deal in the segment. “The absence of a direct flight has not impacted the MICE groups coming to Manchester,” she reiterated.
Marketing Manchester considers tier II and III markets in India as feeder markets. “Our all-out participation in Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) was reflective of our commitment to the Indian market and we received an overwhelming response at GPS in 2018 and 2019,” confirmed Braddock.
Marketing Manchester is working aggressively to ensure it gets into the Indian travellers’ UK itinerary and targeting young frequent travellers to choose Manchester as their destination of choice!
VISITBRITAIN TO HIKE B2B BUDGET
The “I Travel For” campaign launched in February 2016 was developed based on feedback and data received from digital platforms. “It is a digitally-led campaign that helps us in creating content for tier I markets and then tuning it for tier II and III. We gather valuable insights on consumer journeys and consumer segments,” said Vishal Bhatia, Country Manager India, VisitBritain.
As per recent data of H1, 2019, visits were up 14 per cent and spend up by 41 per cent. For the first time (2018 and 2019), Indians are staying more nights in the rest of England than in London. VisitBritain is focussing on destinations other than London in the “I Travel For” campaign and it is delivering great results.
“TXGB (Tourism Exchange GB) launched in May 2019 is progressing well with the ongoing backend integration with MakeMyTrip,” informed Bhatia. This will ensure MMT is accessible to many suppliers in the UK be it B&B providers in Lake District or smaller attractions in the rest of England especially Manchester which cannot directly talk to agents in markets like India. TXGB allows them to plug and play with content, check the effectiveness of the content with trade and tweak the same based on feedback. “TXGB is a game-changer for us helping develop interesting products for long-term success,” commented Bhatia.
The Discover England Fund (DEF) has been doing commendable work to support the development and distribution of tourism products. As part of DEF, VisitBritain worked on the ‘Open Joy’ itineraries for India which was part of Manchester, Birmingham and London. It has been a great success story with group departures witnessing people getting into the UK from London or Manchester and getting out from a third city.
In 2020, VisitBritain plans to increase its B2B budget to engage a lot more with the travel trade. “We will be tapping untouched markets like Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh in partnership with UKVI and other trade partners like Marketing Manchester or other DMOs. We are also working with UKVI and VFS Global to craft visa messaging, address myths about UK visa, talk about MICE scheme and passport fast track services,” concluded Bhatia.