Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Airports and Hotels

Its a fact that cannot be argued that Airports are your signalling welcome to a country. The moment you land, it's the impression that's created. An airport, especially an international one, thus becomes not just an essential service for Globalisation and Trade, but also one for tourism and hospitality. This is an industry which relies very heavily on first impressions (and as a result, an industry that I under no circumstances should enter).
After the airport comes the hotel, especially if you're a nice friendly rich traveller, willing to spend money. It doesn't matter whether you're from Chicago or Chennai, if you've got the buck, you're going to want to come to a hotel that treats you well.

Now, its an interesting contrast. Landing in Singapore, you hit Changi International, which I must say is a spectacular airport. Clean, comfortable and efficient which are the three most important things in my opinion. The overemphasis on Duty Free is not what makes an airport world class, it's the speed with which you can get in and out.
On the other hand, Landing back in Delhi is quite simply a pain in the ass. However much joy I get out of being home, it only really starts to hit me once I've left the confines of Indira Gandhi International. On a side note, once it's privatised, i really hope they change the name. There's something about naming institutions after such great hallmarks of economic and social progress that runs them to the ground. If you've ever been to Jawaharlal Nehru University, you'll know what I'm on about.
Here's the contrast. As far as hotels go, five star hotels, I don't think you can find better service, hospitality and general comfort than any private hotel in India(or specifically Delhi, though I've had comfortable experiences in Chennai and Cochin as well). Singapore, Bangkok, and from what my father (who is exceptionally well travelled) much of Europe and the United States are *severely* lagging behind in this department.

I think it well establishes that given incentive, the Indian Hospitality and Service industry can clearly be a global standard. The point to note here, of course, is given incentive. I'm glad to hear that the Airports are being privatised. No, I don't really care if there's a large duty free selection when I land back in Delhi, but I would like friendly immigration services, a clean environment, faster access to my baggage and parking that works. I'd like more services, such as easy currency exchange, telephone and mobile providers and easier access to cabs in the airport too, it's something you appreciate when you land in a foreign country.
It's labour intensive, and jobs are only going to be increased, with an increase in air traffic. Which stakeholders are harmed, I'm not exactly sure.

Why am I making this point? Because day after, I'm landing back, coming home for my midterm break. I'd just love it if when I land back in a couple of years, I could look forward to more than just my bed.

No comments: