The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted a tremendous impact on the tourism, hospitality, and technology industry worldwide. Last year, inspired by the feedback from India’s small hotels, independent hosts and travel operators – we got together with leading players of the industry such as Airbnb, EaseMyTrip, and Yatra started to discuss how interests of and challenges faced by these new age entrepreneurs building travel businesses beyond tier-1 cities of India, could also become an inclusive part of thought leadership and advocacy for the industry. The COVID-19 crisis presents a unique opportunity to collaborate on reviving the industry and only progress upwards from here on.
To empower the voice of smaller operators in the ecosystem, travel, and hospitality tech players – OYO, along with Airbnb, EaseMyTrip, and Yatra – have come together to back and enable an industry association – Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry (CHATT).
CHATT aims to promote domestic tourism, lead the digital transformation of tourism-related business and operating models, proactively engage via advocacy programmes to be a thought leader, impart educational training and beneficial programs to all industry segments. Every member will be able to access all CHATT resources and benefits, including participation in year-round programs, signature business events, access to the travel-tech ecosystem, including the experts and regional leads among others.
The association comprises start-up founders and business leaders such as Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager, Airbnb – India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Nishant Pitti, Co- Founder & CEO – EaseMyTrip.com; Rohit Kapoor, CEO – OYO India & Southeast Asia, and Dhruv Shringi, Co-Founder and CEO – Yatra.com.
In a virtual digital launch event hosted by CHATT, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Honourable Minister for Tourism and Culture (Independent Charge), Government of India, attended as the Chief Guest. He lauded the efforts of the new-age technology, travel and hospitality companies who have come together to promote the interest of the smallest and often under-represented operators and work together with the government on various fronts in this space.
While launching CHATT, the Hon’ble Minister said, “I congratulate CHATT founding members who have come together to put India on the global map. CHATT’s formation is a landmark decision to boost India’s robust domestic tourism market and support small hotel partners, homeowners, agents to expand their offerings catering to the needs of tourists. The Tourism Ministry is continuously making efforts to make the data available of hotels, home-stays on the unified portal – NIDHI to benefit tourists and CHATT will play a crucial role in it. Vaccination is going to drive the tourism sector’s revival and we are working on a uniform policy and setting up protocols for travellers getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The consolidated efforts by CHATT will be highly beneficial for SME, MSMEs hotel, homeowners, partners and I welcome them to join the various government committees to represent the unified voice of the industry.”
Arvind Singh, Secretary Tourism – Government of India said, “It’s a privilege to be present here at CHATT’s launch in the presence of the Honourable Minister. The founding members – Airbnb, EaseMyTrip, OYO and Yatra have worked tirelessly to revolutionize and bring change in the tourism industry by integrating technology, reaching out to small, medium entrepreneurs and addressing the gaps. The efforts of CHATT are highly inclusive and once the impact of second wave subsides – a group like CHATT will present greater economic impact. Technology is at the forefront of many initiatives at the Ministry of Tourism and we look forward to closely working with CHATT to strengthen the sector.”
From L to R: Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Honourable Minister for Tourism and Culture (Independent Charge) – Government of India; Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO – OYO; Dhruv Shringi, Co-Founder and CEO – Yatra.com ; Nishant Pitti, Co- Founder & CEO – EaseMyTrip.com, Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager, Airbnb – India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Rohit Kapoor, CEO – OYO INSEA along with other senior officials from the government
Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager, Airbnb – India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said, “The adoption of technology and digital infrastructure is shaping the future for customer service industries like travel and tourism, driving affordability, sustainability and reach. In the context of COVID-19, enhancing the digitization journey for travel businesses and entrepreneurs has become even more critical and has the potential to inform the sector’s recovery. The Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry (CHATT) represents a concerted effort to promote the growth of a digital economy by onboarding hospitality entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses. With the support of all our partners, CHATT will help to advance the cause of a truly inclusive travel and tourism sector through capacity building, knowledge and best practices to drive growth, encourage innovation and build a rich portfolio of future-ready travel offerings.”
Nishant Pitti, Co- Founder & CEO – EaseMyTrip.com said, “I personally believe CHATT will bring a positive revival in the travel industry. All the SMEs, Startups, and new tech companies will be able to take its benefit. Through this, we will come up with new age technology and digital solutions for the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector to meet the expectation of new norms and trends. Through CHATT, we want to become the voice of all travel partners, SMEs and startups.”
Rohit Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, OYO INSEA said, “The pandemic has accelerated India’s shift to digitisation and tech in a way that is no less than revolutionary- not just driven by the need for hygiene and sanitisation but coming from a clear preference from the consumer for independently navigating their world.
CHATT (Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry) is driven by the recognition of these developments, and connecting thousands of small hotels and homes across India to their consumers in a way that was previously impossible. Data and understanding consumer trends is the future of hospitality. This confederation is a product of conversations among industry leaders, and the vision of the government of India to unite small and medium sized hotel owners under a unified tech platform, helping them heal from the losses of the pandemic, and ushering them into the new age where they can welcome more guests.”
Dhruv Shringi, Co-Founder and CEO – Yatra.com, said “Based on the discussion with various stakeholders in the past year or so, CHATT has been formed, primarily with an idea to give a unified voice to the small and medium enterprises. For organisations to be successful, we need partners, entrepreneurs who drive their businesses in sync with us to drive their business to the next level. The objective of CHATT is to drive advocacy for our partners in order to align with the Government with the objective of causing benefit to the overall travel and hospitality ecosystem. With CHATT, we aim to represent the interests of smaller businesses and entrepreneurs who are the backbone of the tourism sector.”
The work of CHATT is going to be important for promoting the interests of the small enterprises in the industry, by leveraging digital initiatives, and ongoing dialogue with the government – a role that has become all the more crucial in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHATT’s aim is to lead these efforts and fill in the missing pieces of technology, innovation in the tourism and hospitality industry. Throughout the pandemic, CHATT founding members – Airbnb, EaseMyTrip, OYO and Yatra have supported the Government’s vision to revive the economy. With this foundation, CHATT aims to safeguard the interests of small hotel, home and travel partners and become their voice.