In conversation with Khursheed Mistry,
Marketing & Advertising professional
Khursheed Mistry is an experienced business head with extensive experience in the marketing and advertising industry. A business development professional from Xavier's Institute of Management, Khursheed has 20+ years of experience in Luxury and Lifestyle Media. What she brings to the table is proven experience in business planning, communications strategy, budgeting & forecasting, strategic alliances, and publication sales.
Currently working for Enthralltech as a freelance consultant, she has held senior positions with Business Traveller India, India Today Group, L'Officiel India, Worldwide Media, and Motivate Media Group.
In this interview we draw from her experience when she worked at Business Traveller India, to see if there is a convergence between business travel and vacation travel. (Especially if the family can join you towards the end of your business related commitments.)
Here’s our first question – could you tell us about working with Business Traveller?
Working with Business Traveller India has been one of my most fulfilling and enjoyable professional journeys ever. I joined the magazine a few months after it launched and learnt a lot over the years about what made the travel, hospitality, airline and luxury industries tick.
Has there been an increase over the last ten years in business related travel?
In the last decade and more, India has rapidly climbed to being one of the top ten business travel destinations in the world. I would attribute this mega boom of growth to political, economic and demographic factors mainly. Whether it has been macro-economic growth, or an evolution in the regulatory environment, to increased growth and expansion in industrial activities, coupled with speedy digitization of travel booking tools - all these factors cumulatively have led to this.
What does the business traveler look for in terms of service, from airlines and hotels?
Business travelers have become discerning in recent years and expect a lot from an airline, or business hotel which they patron. There is a growing consciousness to upscale their business travel experience. Traveling business class and staying in luxury hotels, is slowly becoming more common. Airport lounges have fast become a place where new associations are forged. Those travelling in business class on long haul flights can network with other passengers onboard in the bar. Hotels roll out the red carpet for their business guests. Exciting packages and or interesting events/food festivals are sometimes the clincher. Corporate guests can avail of the executive lounge to entertain their business associates, or alternatively, wine and dine them in top-notch bars and restaurants, in the hotel premises. This makes networking more convenient. For regular guests too, the hotels often have personalized welcome notes and the works, to pamper them.
Do people manage to take a detour for a vacation during travel for business?
Prior to the pandemic, some business hotels had shown growth in their room occupancy, especially on weekends, because their business guests were joined by their families then. Bleasure travel (business and pleasure) is now a popular trend, and business travelers are more open to adopting this model, to maximize their travel experiences.
For business travelers, do you see a new trend in taking spouses along?
I’m not sure how many business travelers will take their spouses along for the entire business trip, but some do join them later. They may either extend their stay in the same destination and/or travel to other places close by before returning home.
From what you have seen, do business travelers look forward to annual vacations?
A hard-core business traveler might find it difficult not only to schedule, but also to compartmentalize a leisure vacation (annual especially), and more often than not, they may end up combining their family holidays with one of the business trips.
Have you managed to take time off from work for an annual vacation?
Honestly, thanks to the nature of the job when I was with the magazine, and a super, ex Publisher & CEO, I have had the opportunity to travel on work to some destinations. I was allowed the flexibility to extend our trips by a day or two (at my expense of course) if I wanted to. The need for an annual vacation wasn’t as pressing then. So, instead of a single vacation, I got a few mini ones and that worked out just fine too!
With the Covid situation, what are your predictions for the industry over the next six months?
Traveling has been restricted due to this pandemic, and until the vaccine is easily available, predicting travel trends may be a bit of a challenge. However, I see a gradual increase in weekend getaways, more domestic travel by road, staying in home stays or boutique hotels, and mainly, keeping travel plans more intimate to immediate / close family.
Airline travel will be more circumstantial and restricted to unavoidable business trips, both international and domestic, or to get to one destination from another. International leisure holidays will take a backseat for some time.
All images, courtesy of Khursheed Mistry
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