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Getting its first overhaul in 14 years, online travel agency Cleartrip unveiled a revamped version of its booking tool for agents. With what Cleartrip describes as a user-friendly design and round-the-clock support center, AgentBox 2.0 enables travel agents to book over 100 airlines, more than 500,000 hotels, exclusive holiday packages, group bookings, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. “While the earlier version, first introduced in 2009, was more about making agents familiar with online adoption, the upgraded tool focuses heavily on the backend stack, offering a suite of products including flights, hotels, packages, buses and trains,” said Sukesh Shetty, head of B2B at Cleartrip. One of the reasons why the tool was never upgraded after 2009, he said, was because the company was so extensively concentrated on business-to-consumer that business-to-business was just an ancillary product for Cleartrip. “We want to be a catalyst in agents’ growth and not just another platform provider,” Shetty added. Additionally, Cleartrip registered 70 percent growth in monthly agent transactions and onboarded over 5,000 agents in the financial year 2022. The company also reported a 200 percent surge in summer travel bookings compared to the same period last year.

Tata Group-owned Air India reduced the number of days retiring employees can accumulate for privilege leaves in the current and next financial years. In an internal communication to employees, the airline’s CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson said all such leaves beyond 60 days would be encashed for staff approaching retirement. In March, the airline revised its policy, setting the accumulation limit of 60 days for all employees in a particular financial year from April 1. The airline previously allowed permanent employees to accumulate or encash up to 300 privilege leaves. Earlier this month, Air India extended the last date to apply for voluntary retirement offers for its employees till May 31 from April 30, 2023.

Indian hospitality brand Pride Hotels Group launched a 65-room Pride Biznotel Whitefield, Bengaluru in the south Indian state of Karnataka. “Expanding our Pride Biznotel brand to multiple locations is a testament to our commitment to meeting the discerning needs of business travelers,” said Satyen Jain, CEO of Pride Hotels. The hotel is the group’s second property in the city after Pride Hotel Bengaluru, located at Richmond Road. Earlier this month, the brand announced the signing of Pride Resort Ambaji in the western state of Gujarat, and the launch of Pride Resort Rudraprayag in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand

Low-cost carrier IndiGo’s first widebody aircraft landed in New Delhi, showcasing its white and blue livery on the newly introduced Boeing 777 aircraft. The B777 aircraft, servicing the Delhi-Istanbul route, has a seating capacity of 400 passengers in a dual-class configuration, the airline said in a statement. The airline’s expanding network of codeshare destinations with Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines now connects to 33 destinations in Europe — the latest connection being Edinburgh via Istanbul. Through its codeshare arrangement with Turkish Airlines, IndiGo has been adding connections to European destinations over the last few months.

India-based luxury hospitality brand Sayaji Hotels launched a 54-room Effotel Sarola in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra. The hotel marks the brand’s sixth property in the state. “We are buoyant on the industry’s growth in the Pune district that has fueled demand for upscale mid-market hotels in this region. With the launch of Effotel Sarola, we move a step forward to establish our presence across prominent destinations nationally,” said Jameel Sayed, director of business development at Sayaji Hotels. In April, the company launched a 63 room-Effotel by Sayajiin Bhopal-Hoshangabad Road in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. With 22 properties currently operational, the group plans to add 50 hotels to its portfolio in the next two years. 

The finance ministry’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development launched a project at Kabu village in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh to promote eco-cultural tourism. Young Men’s Adventure Club, the implementing agency of the project, is responsible for sensitizing entrepreneurs about the importance of conservation, including preserving, promoting and propagating the unique culture of the region’s Galo community, said the bank’s General Manager Partho Saha. “Through the homestays and the proposed Ethnographic Center, the project partners will endeavor to open a window to local cuisines, local weave and handicraft, folklores, tribal religion, mythology, livelihoods and family structure,” Saha said. Besides attracting tourists, the concept will provide substantial income to all the stakeholders, he added.

Thomas Cook India’s hospitality arm, Sterling Holiday Resorts, recorded its highest earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $141.7 million for the financial year 2023, which is a 6x multiple over the pre-pandemic year of financial year 2020 and a growth of 23 percent year-on-year over the financial year 2022. The company recorded turnover of $456 million during the year, representing a recovery of 37 percent over the pre-pandemic levels. “The surge in demand and drive towards internal efficiencies coupled with the brand strength of Sterling has enabled us to grow significantly over pre-pandemic levels,” said Vikram Lalvani, CEO and managing director Sterling Holiday Resorts. During the financial year, Sterling added a total of six resorts, taking its portfolio to 40 resorts across 38 destinations. 

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Tags: air india, cleartrip, ecotourism, india, indigo, online travel newsletter, skift india report, Tata Group, thomas cook, travel agents

Photo credit: Cleartrip has unveiled a revamped version of its booking tool for travel agents. Source: Bartek Zakrzewski/Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-business-work-young-computer-3687080/ Bartek Zakrzewski / Pixabay

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