Sunday, October 31, 2010

A new destination for tourism worth trying

Sultanate of Oman has always been the main draw for tourist connoisseurs, when it comes to natural beauties. Salalah is already there in the radar for all who would like to enjoy the kharif season.Little, however is known to them about Masirah Island, especially those outside the Sultanate or even in the region(read GCC)and the world in general.It was a recent drive from Ibra to Mahoot, followed by a voyage in ferry to the island, which opened the eyes of yours truly to such a beautiful destination, that would definitely add to a tourist's delight.One can witness a whole gamut of things like a long drive cruising at high speed till one reaches Mahoot, from where one can take his belongings, self and even the vehicle in a ferry, which in itself is worth the try.Add to it the unique experience of fishing, going along in a motored boat at high speed in the calm sea,searching for turtles in the darkness with the background sounds of the sea shore or even indulging in sports in the virgin beaches of Masirah, makes it a holistic and absorbing one for any travel geek.Yours truly along with some of his colleagues were elated to experience the composite package first hand. Starting from the warm hospitality right at the shores, when an Omani citizen based in Sinaw was about to leave for his ancestral home in Masirah, aided and guided with all the information, hitherto unavailable in totality on the web, till the time the entourage was leaving the island, everything got etched firmly in the minds of the travelers, pointing towards Masirah as a memorable experience.The yummy delicacies comprising of Arabic, Indian, Pakistani and Turkish food joints only adds to the overall excitement, fun, frolic and enjoyment.It is ideal to take along ones own car, or rent a car, even while reaching the island from the other side of the shore.One can navigate through the island in the car so as to have an all around experience of the geography.The relaxed environs and easy going approach of the people, enables in de-stressing the tired minds and souls.There are rumours saying that a bridge is going to be constructed so as to connect the island with the mainland, however, from a tourist's perspective its better in the present form as one can experience an altogether new feeling while carrying self and his vehicle in that one and a half hours ferry journey across the calm seas, kissed by the cool winds.The destination however needs to be marketed aggressively so that it can join Salalah and Nizwa in drawing more foreign tourists.The time is ripe for the tourist operators to cash upon this unique spot.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Understanding LCC business model from a customer's perspective

Low Cost Carriers (LCC)have brought in a revolution in the global skies.Infact during the trying times that the aviation sector is currently witnessing, most of the LCC are giving the Full Service Airlines(FSA)a hard run for their money.Yours truly witnessed quite a few of these LCC and FSA first hand as a customer with a background of understanding Business and Management.The latest one which was experienced in the last couple of days was Fly Dubai while flying on Muscat-Dubai-Muscat route for a weekend visit to the Emirate.On expected lines Fly Dubai had a good customer service experience to cater with a wide range of merchandise being sold on board at compelling prices, akin to many other Gulf based carriers.The diversified background of the cabin crew, along with their friendly and warm hospitality would make even the most jaded passenger to feel fresh and happy.However, a complete and truly satisfying service was not to be as there were some lacunae that created creased customer foreheads. Two such instances were-There wasn't any mention about the departure terminal in the e-ticket especially while boarding from a big airport like that of Dubai International Airport, which is always there in case of all FSA airlines like that of Oman Air, Emirates and Etihad.The second instance was in fact more appalling as it led to customer inconvenience and harassment. On landing in Dubai, the immigration and customs official told, as per the new amendments in the entry and exit rules of all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)residents, a passenger having their visa expiry date less than six months from the date of travel are not allowed to enter the Emirate.This resulted in many passengers travelling into Dubai via Fly Dubai from destinations like Muscat, Kuwait and Doha had to face inconvenience at the airport.Thanks to a friendly immigration and custom official at Dubai International Airport, who helped in routing the cases through a known travel agent so as to complete the visa proceedings apropos the new rules in vogue.Imagine what may have gone through with those passengers who are travelling in the sector for the first and without any contact in Dubai, leave aside knowing a travel agent!However, even the best of his efforts(customs and immigration) couldn't stop the passengers from wasting their precious 4-5 hours by being stranded at the airport.As a responsible service provider Fly Dubai would have sought all details about the passenger, his passport and visa status while he booked his ticket online and also during checking-in so as to avoid such inconveniences at the last minute.Although the other aspect of the service are truly world class, Fly Dubai need to pull up socks with players like Air Arabia fast catching up with the international best LCC practices.Indian LCC can definitely pick a lesson or two from the Middle East based LCC and their FSA counterparts.These players have strong business sense and coupled with fast reaction players like Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Etihad to name a few are giving a tough fight to all the European carriers.Gulf based carriers are smart enough to leverage the export credit benefit, along with smart services to the passengers. The European hub is being fast taken over by the gulf based carriers owing to their opportunistic approach based on strong customer service.In such a scenario can the two instances of Fly Dubai be classified as an abberation?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Observation and Learning from CWG-2010

CWG-2010 being held in New Delhi, India was a fairy tale case of event management, till the stupendous inaugural ceremony stole the limelight and wiped out all the miserable happenings grabbing international headlines for more than a fortnight. These rapid developments made all and sundry sit back and ponder at the sudden emergence of the 'Numero Uno Commonwealth Games Ever' from the throes of doldrums.Even the most unorganized instances of event management wouldn't have imitated the callous approach, complicated processes and corrupt practices witnessed till the completion of the work for this global event.Thanks to the free Indian press, which left no stone unturned so as to publish all the scoops thereby publicizing the wrong doings involved in tarnishing brand India. Suddenly the billion mind powered democracy was airing their discontent, anguish, disgust and agony all over the media-print and electronic.CWG-2010 suddenly became the discussion everywhere,real and virtual.Twitter and Facebook simply complemented the platforms already available, thereby having a multiplier effect on the whole incident.All the stakeholders, save the prospective audience and the citizens were involved in alleged corruption cases, ignorance, blame game and was up in arms against the CWG bigwigs like Mike Fennel.Allegations and counter-allegations flew thick and fast and a pall of gloom descended just a few days prior to the game.The fire fighting exercise on the part of the global organizing committee wasn't enough and they soon realized the magnanimity of the situation and therefore started to ring the alarming bells in front of the government doors.The cabinet ministers, along with the Prime Minister got up from their slumber and were running helter-skelter, till someone took up the reins of turning around the preparation head-on.A handful few days to go for the gala event to take center stage, the Central and Delhi government along with the private corporate bodies collectively joined hands to avoid a complete white wash of India's brand image.The last minute saviour enabled India save the blushes, notwithstanding the jolt received by brand India, as a global emerging power.The discrepancy in a banana republic was obvious with none taking up the gauntlet of saving the country, till it became suicidal.
The major learning from the event leading to the opening ceremony are listed below for analysis and brainstorming-
(1)The decision makers in the governing bodies of Indian Sports Associations are still the powerful, corrupt and hungry politicians, whose main interest is to loot the exchequer and mar the image of the country, so as to boost up their own coffers
(2)Government takes less interest till something big erupts jeopardising national image, IPL-2010 was the latest pointer before the CWG fiasco
(3)Providing best facilities to the sports person are the last in the priority list of the sports administrators, with cricket being the exception
(4)National brand building through such a global event isn't being completely leveraged by all the concerned stakeholders
(5)Politicising events of national importance portraying myopic vision of various political parties
(6)Lack of fixed accountability, authority along with associated deadlines, and making them public for the awareness of the people at large
(7)No details of funding and the usage of the same, the source of the funds, available in public domain
(8)Hierarchical structure not known to anyone except the people having vested interests
(9)Collective effort on the part of all the states, to make the event a memorable one for the nation at large is absent owing to the shortsighted approach of the central and state governments
(10)Pre, during and post games plan so as to leverage the event in the larger interest of the national brand building is sorely missing
(11)In the information age even the smartest corrupt administrators would be under the scanner within no time

There could be more than what have been listed above. Although the grand opening ceremony have shut down the mouth of international bodies, India would find it difficult to market the destination for Olympics, thanks to the brand dilution till the resurrection exercise was initiated.Are the major decision makers listening?