Priyanka Saxena Ray
Taking place after a hiatus of 3 years, the recently concluded OTOAI Convention was one of the most unique ‘official event’ attended by the delegates in the recent past. A huge 70-plus-member delegation reached Nairobi few days before the Convention to attend the Pre-Fam Tour and were treated to amazing Kenyan hospitality at the Sarova Resort in the famous Masai Mara. From catching a glimpse of the “chase” and “kill” to early-morning Game Drives and fun bonfire nights, OTOAI members who attended the Pre Fam were simply wowed by the wildlife wonders of one of the most famous Wildlife Parks in the world – Masai Mara.
As delegates from all parts of India along with pre-fam delegates met for the first official evening of the Convention at the Stanley Sarova Hotel in Nairobi, the energy and excitement in the hall was almost palpable. The evening kick-started with an official welcome from the Representatives of Kenya Tourism who expressed the importance of tourism from India market followed by lighting the lamp and surprise birthday cake for Basheer Abdul Rahim, Director & Consultant, One Above. One Above along with their zealous team were the ground handlers of the event.
Addressing the gathering, Riaz Munshi, President, OTOAI said, “For OTOAI conventions, we always seek destinations that have the prospect of growing in the Indian market and can add value to our members. Kenya is a diverse and vibrant country, with stunning landscapes, wildlife, and cultural experiences. It is famous for its national parks and wildlife reserves. It is a unique destination in terms of experiences and hospitality and has huge potential to grow in the Indian market. Lately, we have seen an increase in flight capacity, which will help us promote the destination to Indian travellers. Moreover, this kind of destination generates better revenue as it is knowledge-based. I am confident that after experiencing the product, our members will be in a better position to pitch Kenya to Indian travellers with a better perspective.”
Day 2 of the Convention, which is when the official business was scheduled for, saw the gathering listen in apt attention to an insightful presentation by Sumit Rajwade, Founder, Chief (Deep) Thinking Officer, mPrompto on ‘Smart Tourism: The role of AI & ChatGPT in Travel’, which was the theme of the Convention this year. He went on to explain in detail how the travel industry can intelligently use AI and ChatGPT to give better outcomes to their customers along with more personalised touch. Ketan Kasabe from Tan Consulting explained how one should choose Digital Promotion platforms based on the needs of the company and their target markets. Alongside this, crisp and interesting presentations were made by the Supporting Partners of the Convention such as Trip Jack, Kazin DMC, Air India, One Above, Rezlive, Sarova Hotels & Resorts, Elewana Collection of Hotels, Kenya Tourism and more.
Moving away from lengthy panel discussions and boring detailed presentations, the official ceremony of the OTOAI Convention was a refreshing and welcome change. Another aspect that stood out and left people asking for more was the sumptuous food that was served during the Convention. Every meal had a mix of Indian and African cuisine and some unique dishes on the menu took the delegates completely by surprise, leaving them stuffed and satisfied. The final Gala evening followed the Indian theme as members/spouses and even locales put on their best Indian look and stood in fashionable solidarity. A renowned dance group enthralled the audience with its most energetic performance on popular Bollywood numbers, setting the tone for the evening as all members let their hair down to have a wonderful time. The Post Fam tours were equally looked forward to as delegates left for their onward journey.
OTOAI Convention report will remain incomplete without few special mentions starting with the Convention Chairman and Vice President Shravan Bhalla who had meticulously planned everything to the very last detail. From smooth check-ins to sightseeing trips, pre fams, post tours, everything went by without any glitch. Standing in solidarity was the Association General Secretary Siddharth Khanna who was always on top of everything, ensuring smooth flow of events and adding his personalised touch to the event. Himanshu Patil, EC Member OTOAI was the stoic energy that kept the Convention and members together. While he was certainly the brain behind the Convention Program, his good spirits and infectious humour kept everyone entertained, especially as he cheered on the gathering, giving away as many as 15 Lucky Draws. Mita Vohra, Director, Sarova Hotels & Resorts Kenya was present on all days of the Convention and added much warmth to the event with her grace and affection.
They say that a “Good Show” is all about Teamwork and OTOAI Members proved that right as they collectively put together a brilliant and successful Convention in Kenya under the staunch and able guidance of its dynamic President Riaz Munshi. The industry definitely needs more such Conventions.