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Travel and hospitality sector will recover in 7-8 months:Former CEO of IndiGo and Oyo

17 Aug 2020

Once the artificial restrictions on flights and hotels are removed, people will rush back to travel, says Aditya Ghosh, former CEO of IndiGo and Oyo Hotels & Homes. Mr Ghosh, who is now a director at Oyo and Fab India, believes that the travel and hospitality sector will make a comeback in 7-8 months, even without a vaccine. People are currently driving long distances because of artificial restrictions on flights, he points out.

Speaking in an online dialogue with India’s management fraternity, organized by All India Management Association (AIMA), Mr Ghosh predicted that the more affordable segment of aviation and hotels will be the first to recover. However, he emphasized that the service delivery methods will have to become highly tech driven, as people will have the option of saving time and expense on travel and stay by engaging with distant people online.

The dialogue, 26th in the LeaderSpeak series, was moderated by Mr Sanjay Kirloskar, President, AIMA and it was anchored by Ms Rekha Sethi, Director General, AIMA.

Mr Ghosh said that covid was only one of the crises facing the world. He argued that climate change was likely to be even more devastating in two decades from now and the CEOs and boards had to pre-empt that by acting now. “If people start seeing climate change as a business problem, they will do something about,” he said. He gave the example of Indigo’s plan to acquire cleaner and greener engines and planes to compete against established international airlines with legacy planes.

Talking about the responsibility for mitigating climate change and other real problems, Mr Ghosh said that the onus lay on the people to convince the regulators and enablers to change their priorities. He said that the CEOs had to believe that the investors would understand if they were explained the rationale of patient investing with logic and data. He argued that investors bet on the entrepreneur and if the entrepreneur told them what he was prepared to do and not do and asked to be judged after a certain amount of time, the investors will get it.

Mr Ghosh said that doing well and doing good were integral to business. He regretted that people hero worshipping those with extreme wealth. “There is little talk about which of the important problems are such heroes solving,” he said. Giving an example of doing well and doing good, he mentioned that Oyo led a rainwater harvesting facility building drive in Shimla after 2018 water crisis on the hill station. “With another water crisis, there would have been no traffic for hotels in Shimla,” he said.

Mr Kirloskar mentioned his father’s advice that the true measure of success was how well one’s company did after one was no longer in charge. Talking about extreme inequality in the modern era, he recalled that in the pre-Regan America of relatively higher taxes, there was greater equality of incomes. Mr Ghosh remarked that taxing extreme wealth more could at best be a band-aid. “You have to find ways to do things differently, otherwise you will remain trapped in the cycle of making more profits to allocate profit to philanthropy,” he said.

Commenting on the CEOs’ singular aim of making profits, Mr Ghosh said that while making big profits and paying employees well, the CEOs must also ensure that the little suppliers’ life also gets better. “If you break the back of the supplier trying to reduce costs, you push the supplier out of business for your profits,” he said. He argued that CEOs had to find ways to make supply chain and customer base sustainable. With fewer people having jobs, the customer base will disappear, he remarked. “The design of the economy has to be changed from transactional to transformational,” Mr Ghosh said.

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