May 27, 2024

More Travelers Are Embracing Travel Rewards and Benefits

Indian consumers are willing to use their payment cards for travel expenses and everyday costs when travel-related rewards are offered – 83% of consumers, according to a Collinson research report titled “The New Rules of Engagement: Customer Expectations Revealed.”

This trend underscores the potential for financial services brands to tap into the Indian market by providing compelling travel rewards and building deeper customer connections.

Most recently, digital payments company Visa collaborated with Indian conglomerate Adani Group to introduce branded cards for travelers. Last month, IDFC First Bank, Club Vistara and Mastercard joined hands to launch a travel credit card to meet the ever-changing demands of new-age travelers.

Also, with travel firmly back on the agenda, the report revealed that Indian travelers hold airport lounge access in high regard as a travel-related reward.

Such benefits have a positive effect on the emotional connection Indian consumers feel towards the brand offering these privileges, with many expressing feeling valued and rewarded, the report said.

“The positive recovery of travel and the growing appeal of travel-related rewards in India present an exciting opportunity for brands, particularly in the financial services sector, to design a strong travel-experience focused proposition to re-engage and strengthen relationships with valued customers,” said Sumit Prakash, country director of India and South Asia at Collinson. 

Indian consumers rank airport lounge access as a highly desirable travel-related reward

Singapore Airlines Restructures India Network

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is increasing business class seats to Hyderabad and offering a mix of premium and budget class seating to Chennai in the upcoming winter schedule. The restructuring comes as the airline awaits regulatory nod for merger of Vistara with Air India.

Currently, SIA and its subsidiary Scoot offer 96 and 44 weekly flights to India respectively. While the total number of flights will remain the same in the winter schedule, services are being adjusted to cater to evolving demand patterns, the airline said in a statement.

From October 29, Hyderabad will be entirely served by SIA, which takes over Scoot’s daily flight. Scoot will commence daily services between Singapore and Chennai from November 5, while SIA will operate twice daily service between the two cities from October 29. 

SIA is also aligning its Singapore-Bengaluru flights, putting in more widebody aircraft on the route. SIA will operate twice daily to Bengaluru (instead of the current 16) from October 29 using its Airbus A350s on all days except Thursdays and Sundays.

Indian Hotels Company to Operate Hotel in Frankfurt

Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company is entering into a lease agreement to operate a hotel in Germany’s Frankfurt. The company proposes to spend $5.5 million on renovating this property that will be leased to them for 30 years (20 years with rights of two renewals of five years each).

Additionally, it will buy 100% equity of Pamodzi Hotel, a listed company in Zambia from Tata International Singapore. Pamodzi Hotel has long-term leasehold rights for Taj Pamodzi, Zambia – a luxury hotel in Lusaka city. At present, Tata International Singapore owns 90% equity of Pamodzi. The transaction is subject to Tata International Singapore acquiring the balance 10% equity in Pamodzi Hotel through a delisting process in Zambia.

Russia to Launch E-Visa for Indians from August 1

Russia is launching electronic visas for Indian passport holders, starting today. The e-visa will be processed in a maximum of four days and a $40 consular fee will be charged for the facility. 

Citizens from 52 countries including India will benefit from this decision, according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. The e-visa facility could be used to enter Russia for a variety of purposes such as business trips, guest visits, tourism, etc. 

The new e-visa will be valid for 60 days, allowing tourists to stay in the country for 16 days at a time. The e-visa facility for Indans is expected to cut short the extensive documentation process and reduce the processing time, providing a more convenient option for Indian tourists planning to go to Russia.

SaffronStays Partners With Marriott Bonvoy to Offer Premium Rental Properties

Premium homestay chain SaffronStays has joined hands with Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy to offer luxury rental properties. These stays will be present in approximately more than 20 markets across India, including Alibaug, Lonavala, Pawna, Kamshet, Mahabaleshwar, Karjat, Nashik, Igatpuri, Ranikhet, Chail, Manali, Dehradun, Ooty, with many more to come.

At present, 236 of the Mumbai-based company’s properties are live, and 54 more are being exclusively branded and marketed by the platform. SaffronStays competes with the likes of Lohono Stays and StayVista.

Launched in May 2019, Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy has grown from 60,000 listings to 115,000 in just a year. Before being added to the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, Marriott International audited and reviewed SaffronStays’ rental properties to meet its standards for regulation, design and amenities.

AirAsia India Gets Nod to Operate Under Air India Express Brand

AirAsia India has received approval from aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation to operate its flights under the Air India Express brand. The approval from the regulator now allows both Air India Express and AIX Connect flights to be marketed, distributed, and operated under the common brand name ‘Air India Express’ even before the scheduled legal merger of the two entities. 

This move accelerates the integration efforts, including the harmonization of customer touchpoints, products, and services across both airlines.

Currently, Air India Express connects 20 domestic destinations and 14 international destinations while AIX Connect serves 19 domestic destinations. In March, the airlines introduced a unified website, airindiaexpress.com. 

Tata Group-owned Air India is expecting to complete its merger process with Vistara by March 2024. The merger faced a setback last month after antitrust regulator Competition Commission of India sought more information from the airline to give its nod. 

The Fern Hotels & Resorts Signs New Property in Mumbai And Expands in Gujarat

India-based environmentally sensitive hotel chain The Fern Hotels & Resorts has signed a 70-key The Fern Residency, Mira Road, Mumbai, which is scheduled to open in 2024. Currently, the company operates nine hotels in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. 

The Fern has also announced its latest addition of The Metropole Hotel in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat, soon to be rebranded as The Fern Residency Subhash Bridge, featuring 69 rooms. With this takeover, the hotel became the company’s 24th operational property in the state. 

Last month, the company signed a 107-room hotel in Kota in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Currently, the company operates seven hotels in the state. 

Go First Struggles to Resume Services; Cancels Flights Till August 3

Cash-strapped Go First has canceled all flights till August 3 due to “operational reasons.” Earlier this week, the airline was denied a motion for emergency arbitration in its dispute with U.S. engine maker Pratt and Whitney, Reuters reported.

This comes as the airline had filed for bankruptcy protection in May blaming “faulty” engines for the grounding of about half its 54 Airbus A320neos. However, in some relief to a crisis-hit airline, bankruptcy court National Company Law Tribunal on July 26 rejected the request of six lessors to stop Go First from using their leased planes for flying passengers. 

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