Riaz Munshi, President, OTOAI & MD, Chirag Travels Pvt. Ltd.



If you would like to summarize the learnings from 2021, then what would they be?

Riaz Munshi. 2021 has been a trying year but also one that has proved the resilience of travel like never before as we have all adjusted our businesses to fit into this new and precarious setting.

The learning that has come from this is that we need to rethink old processes and constantly adapt, innovate and map out the growing needs of a new era of travel. Our focus has been to improve the customer experience across the entire end-to-end journey, from the planning and booking phase to the travel and return home. With different government rules, digital health certificates, travel restrictions, safety measures and dynamic policies, more considerations and information is required than ever before. Consistent trainings have been crucial to act fast and ensure a seamless experience for the travellers.

As we move towards recovery and new travel trends and traveler expectations emerge, leveraging the skills of people and technology will ultimately allow us to deliver journeys that meet travellers’ expectations and gain their confidence to travel in the new normal.

What according to you would be the top trends in 2022?

Riaz Munshi. Travel has again taken a hit again with the new Omicron variant, however once the vaccines’ efficacy against the variants proves durable, we expect a big release of pent-up demand in 2022.

  • Destinations that offer quick flights, little to no restrictions, and good mix activities would be preferred.
  • Given the unpredictability of restrictions, we have also noticed a trend of increasing last-minute bookings. People are becoming more flexible and spontaneous in their travel planning.
  • We also saw a much greater inclination towards private jets and anticipate that there will be a strong retention of this new customer base in 2022 as well.
  • The ‘workcation’ trend has also seen an upturn and will likely to continue in 2022 as the distinction between home and work life has become increasingly blurred and many people have seized the opportunity to work from wherever they choose.
  • Travellers will now be much more cognisant of their travel choices, moving towards fuller and immersive travel experiences that allow them to truly connect, explore and unwind. The resultant demand for luxury stays would increase significantly as we saw it grow this year.

What will be your plans for 2022?

Riaz Munshi. The plan is to utilise our learnings and constantly implement solutions to adapt to the changing global travel norms. We have also re-evaluated our offerings and collaborated with our global partners to put careful consideration into embracing slow and sustainable travel, focusing on curating new itineraries that are impactful, purposeful and responsible. We will thus, be working more on experiential travel and immersive journeys along with introducing new, unexplored destinations.

What message would you like to give to the industry?

Riaz Munshi. The travel industry has been incredibly resilient for the last two years. Even though we are not on the other side of the tunnel just yet, the courage and solidarity shown during these difficult times make me confident that our industry will grow out of this ordeal and will bounce back stronger than ever before. India is going to emerge as one of the leading outbound markets of the world and I am optimistic that the 2022 will shine new light and prove to be a breakthrough one for travel.