Footloose, but not fancy-free? Decoding the modern Indian flyer
The present generation is truly distinctive when it comes to travel—right from the destinations they pick and the adventures they pursue, to how they choose to get there and back. Understanding this unique mindset will go a long way in transforming the future of travel.Updated: Dec 12, 2017 16:29 IST
Bangalore-based consultant Debanuj Chakraborti takes an average of 16 flights a month, mostly within major Indian cities and metros. A senior market research executive in his 30s, he’s no stranger to red-eye travel and frequent layovers. “I try and schedule meetings early enough, so as to make the most of the city I’m flying to,” he explains. “Often I’ve lined up three meetings in one city, before flying back in time for a late dinner.” Does he not find it stressful? “I like being on the move,” he grins. “Besides, it also gives me the chance to catch up for a quick lunch or drink with friends in whichever city I am in. And I get a lot done on flights!”
So does Nikhil S, (34) a senior content professional who works remotely from New Delhi for a technology start-up based out of Dona Paula, Goa. He flies down twice, sometimes thrice every month, for meetings with his content and business teams. “I usually fly in early on a Wednesday morning and work out of Goa for the rest of the week,” he explains. “I’m usually fine-tuning my 9 AM presentation on the flight or catching up on reports, so it’s really an extension of my work day.”
Both professionals, in many ways, illustrate how the present generation of Indian travels differently from their predecessors. Business trips, frequent flights, and hotel beds are no longer likely to ruffle the modern executive; in fact, many look at it as a chance to explore new places and meet people. And, for both, spending their transit time as productively as possible seems to be of utmost essence.
Time is of essence
As the nature of business travel evolves, it only follows that forward-thinking service providers must reinvent themselves to suit the new breed of corporate travellers, which is well-heeled, motivated, and very particular about their time. One example of business travel innovation was when the Marriott Group started designing their hotel rooms to be desk-free, citing that millennial travellers tend to use their laptops, tabs, and phones from anywhere and not necessarily a traditional roll-top study table. Similarly, airlines and airports around the world are also reinventing their technologies keeping this new generation in mind. From biometric check-ins and one-stop boarding, to robots picking up your luggage – innovation labs across the globe are brimming with ideas.
In India, Vistara is revolutionizing flying for business through its exclusive Premium Economy services. Designed specifically keeping the high-flying corporate traveller in mind, it centres its offerings on being not just luxurious and high-end, but also practical and efficient. For example, airport security lines, long check-in wait times, and delays in boarding are sore points for nearly all the business travellers we spoke to. To this end, Premium Economy allows travellers the chance to beat all queues in one sweep. Not only do guests have dedicated check-in counters at terminals, they also get to board before others and settle into their seats before the rest.
In another example, business travellers as a general rule, tend to carry only cabin baggage due to the short nature of their trips. But, not everyone can afford such flexibility. Angira Mitra, 31, a marketing professional with an MNC in New Delhi, often travels for two weeks straight – covering multiple cities on her distribution schedule. “It’s happened more than once that my entire day has run haywire because my check-in baggage took over 45 minutes to come,” she recollects. “So much for arriving early.” Keeping professionals like her and many others in mind, Vistara’s Premium Economy service also ensures that guests can claim their checked-in bags on priority, before the rest of the passengers, thus saving time once again.
Preferential treatments, flexible rules
Essentially, businesses with foresight have understood that customization is a key factor towards retaining millennial customers. Just like one traveller differs from another, so will their baggage requirements and expectations. For instance, even on short trips, corporate travellers often combine several commitments within the span of one or two nights; apart from work meetings, they may have several high-profile events, networking dinners, or social events on their calendar. This often means carrying a combination of formal, festive, and evening wear for what is essentially a two-day trip. Here, too, Vistara steps in with an acute understanding of its audience—by allowing an additional 5kgs of cabin baggage for its Premium Economy guests. This gives them the flexibility to pack as per their convenience and schedule, while also avoiding the hassles of checking in.
Interestingly, the airline also extends the same courtesy for those travelling with more than carry-on; PE guests also get 5kgs extra for their check-in luggage.
Flying into the new
Even as the last two decades saw a massive rise in fuss-free budget airlines in India, many corporate travellers still seem to prefer the feeling of indulgence and exclusivity of flying business class. In fact, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, millennials are 60% more likely to upgrade for extra legroom and are far more open to paying for roomier seats, more head-room, and in-flight entertainment. Apart from fostering a sense of accomplishment, this choice is also governed by practical reasons.
“Look, new-age airlines have a lot going for them, in terms of efficiency and convenience. But I like a nice meal on my morning flights, and preferably a strong cup of coffee to wake me up,” asserts Rahul Sinha, 36, co-founder of a media start-up in Mumbai. He goes on to explain how given a choice between a full-service flight and a budget one, he’s often opted for the former, despite the difference of a few thousand rupees in tickets. “It’s not just the food itself, you know,” he says. “I like the entire experience of full-service flights – it makes me feel more cared for, and I don’t mind spending a bit extra to get that.”
Airlines that strike the balance between luxury and efficiency, therefore, go a long way in fostering customer loyalty. Once again, Vistara illustrates this balance through its Premium Economy services. Apart from saving precious time, guests also enjoy a luxurious, well-appointed exclusive cabin towards the front of the craft with 20% more legroom and 4.5-inch recline for added comfort—not just to accommodate essentials but also to work, watch movies, or catch some much-needed sleep. Together with on-board gourmet meals and your favourite Starbucks coffee, it ensures that guests reach their destinations refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges ahead.
Discover air travel that exclusively caters to your lifestyle with Vistara Premium Economy.
First Published: Nov 21, 2017 18:31 IST