‘Our target segments from India are FIT, Luxury, and small group visitors’
Utah Office of Tourism will hire a full-fledged representation firm in 2021 to expand their reach in travel trade & PR activities. Besides this, plans are also afoot to develop strategic co-operative marketing campaigns and hosting key travel trade partners in the state, says Rachel Bremer, Global Travel Trade & Destination Development Manager, Utah Office of Tourism and Film, in an exclusive interview with TravelBiz Monitor.
Q. Currently, there is no direct flight from India to its capital city Salt Lake. What according to you should be the ideal route to visit Utah? Is there any chance to start a direct flight from India after the completion of the renovation of the Salt Lake City Airport?
Although we don’t have direct flights to India right now, Salt Lake City International Airport is a Delta hub airport and is easily accessible via flights from the East Coast and West Coast. International flights to Europe, including the non-stops to Paris and Amsterdam are scheduled to resume this spring. These European connection flights are recommended for long-haul flights to/from India and Salt Lake City International.
The Salt Lake City International Airport has undergone a USD 4.1billion rebuild allowing for increased flight capacity, larger aircraft access, and increased passenger capacity within the airport. The first phase of this rebuild opened in September of 2020 with 30 new gates. Completion is scheduled for early 2025, with 67 new gates including 6 dual-use international gates. We are currently working with the airport team to identify new direct flight opportunities and will be evaluating South-Asia options.
Q. As of now, India is not in the list of top ten source markets for Utah. What is your strategy to make India to figure (among the top 10) in that list, especially against the backdrop of the new normal?
With strategic co-operative marketing, partnerships, education, and product development, as well as targeted consumer marketing, we will see growth from this market. We must inspire consumers to visit Utah while educating them on how to visit, and creating an accessible, bookable product for our travel trade partners. We are fairly new to the market, this will take time, but I am optimistic that with the right messaging, partnerships, and education we can increase visitation and visitor spending from India.
Q. Which cities in India is currently your focus?
We tend to consider the types of trips that Utah beckons; the extended road trips, and therefore we are aiming to tap into the FIT/luxury, and small group visitor segment. These are visitors that typically have already travelled to the US, and are looking to expand their exploration beyond the East Coast and West Coast. Comprised of honeymooners/couples, families, and small multi-family groups that will enjoy the vistas and viewpoints along our scenic byways, hiking in our National Parks, and state parks, bespoke cuisine, glamping, and other unique experiences. The pandemic and the eventual travel normalcy will lead to many people looking for a destination that offers respite, and scenic beauty, which is what they will find in Utah.
With this in mind, as we continue to develop brand awareness and devote marketing efforts in India; our focus will be Tie-I cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, and Kolkata.
Q. Rocky Mountaineer, an eminent train company, has announced its plans to introduce a new Colorado to Utah route for its luxury train journeys in 2021. What important leverage points will it offer to Utah tourism?
The Rocky Mountaineer expanded route from Denver to Moab is a phenomenal new product that we are excited to launch with them. We have been working with local tour operators to offer extended set departures from Moab, offering additional nights in Utah, and working with key travel trade partners globally to package and promote this spectacular new product.
This presents an opportunity to refine our product offerings, develop new, enriching experiences for the visitors, and support the local visitor economy in Utah in new immersive ways.
Q. Given Utah’s spectacular landscape, many prominent Hollywood films like Mission Impossible, Forrest Gump, Independence Day, etc. have been shot in Utah. Do you have any plan to target Bollywood as well? If yes, elaborate.
We are optimistic about opportunities to expand film tourism with Bollywood and other film industries. We work closely with the Utah Film Commission to send any leads, referrals, and film opportunities their way, as well as develop new film tourism product, and will continue to do so as we expand our work in India.
Q. According to you, when is the ideal time to visit Utah? Currently, how many nights Indians have been spending in Utah?
Utah is a year-round destination. We see four-seasons in Utah, with snow in the wintertime along the Wasatch Mountains in Northern Utah, and beautiful green mountainous drives in the summertime. Our National Parks are open year-round, and in the off-season for the National Parks, (fall-winter), visitors will experience a less busy, slower-paced experience. We are one of the few destinations where, in the springtime, you can ski in Northern UT, and within a few hours be surrounded by red rock, hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Utah is an arid, dry state, and we recommend that visitors prepare for this with hats and clothes to protect them from the sun, plenty of water, and good hiking shoes, particularly when visiting Southern Utah in the summertime. In the fall visitors will experience leaf viewing, perfect for scenic drives.
Utah is a large state with varying driving distances between the National Parks. We recommend a minimum of 5 nights in Utah, and 8-10 nights to experience the Mighty 5 National Parks, the state parks, and viewpoints along the way.
Q. In terms of trade outreach, enumerate some of the activities planned for 2021.
In 2021 we aim to hire a full scope representation firm to expand on our current travel trade and PR efforts, develop strategic co-operative marketing campaigns, hosting key travel trade partners in the state, continuing our education efforts with additional industry training tools, and engage in more trade events and meetings.
We also need to continue to expand our DMC, and supplier connections to create pathways for contracting packaging, and bookable product.
Again, we have not been in the market long and have our work cut out for us, but, with the right strategic partnerships and development, we look forward to growing visitation from India, and supporting travel trade partners in that growth.