Barun Gupta, President, SITE India & Director of Sales & Marketing – Crowne Plaza, Greater Noida

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“As a President of Indian Chapter, my mandate is to create an environment among its members and industry as a whole for knowledge sharing and mutual growth. Members should have the right knowledge and they should be able to connect to the right platform for driving their business growth. Our endeavour is to make them discover the endless possibilities. As a leader of Site India Chapter, I will put forth my efforts to develop a community of Incentive travel specialists in India by focusing on skill development in our trade. Further, as a team together we will pivot to develop India as a source market for global incentive travel. I am also looking forward to expanding the network of SITE in SAARC region and work towards adaptive recovery of the travel industry.”

MS. With what mission and objectives, the SITE India was set up? What are some major activities of SITE India Chapter in India?

Barun Gupta. Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) India is the India chapter for Site Global, which is dedicated to the incentive travel industry. Here research trends and data are used to analyze decision making capabilities in our industry. Site code of conduct acts a guardrail for community with high standards. It is also a platform for members to get access to fantastic professional support from over 27 global chapters. The SITE India Chapter was launched in December 2013 with an initial membership of 23 members. India Chapter hosted Site Global Conference in 2015 within two years of its existence backed by undying support of Ministry of Tourism and entire travel industry of India.The SITE Global Conference 2015 in New Delhi was a huge success with a record participation of 255 delegates & 29 guests. Almost 100 international delegates took advantage of the visit and went on the pre & post tours and many SITE members worldwide still say that this was one of the best Global Conferences ever. SITE India also hosted super successful virtual event – SITE India Incentive Meet 2021” – virtual B2B meetings for buyers and suppliers from across the globe.

The SITE India Chapter has a Board of 11 volunteers. The Chapter has been effectively running Educationals and Networking meets for the members and we even had a CIS (Certified Incentive Specialist) Workshop for the industry, where 46 professionals qualified and today proudly wear the CIS pin. It also provides Certified Incentive Travel Professional (CITP) certificates to those who have more than 10 years of experience. Education is the core of the association. As we go into our 7th year as a Chapter, we are looking for greater participation from discerning members to help grow this forum into a strong medium for the promotion of effective incentive travel to and from India.

MS. As a president of SITE India Chapter, what would be your key priorities in the coming one year?

Barun Gupta. As a President of Indian Chapter, my mandate is to create an environment among its members and industry as a whole for knowledge sharing and mutual growth. Members should have the right knowledge and they should be able to connect to the right platform for driving their business growth. Our endeavour is to make them discover the endless possibilities. As a leader of SITE India Chapter, I will put forth my efforts to develop a community of Incentive travel specialists in India by focusing on skill development in our trade. Further, as a team together we will pivot to develop India as a source market for global incentive travel. I am also looking forward to expanding the network of Site in SAARC region and work towards adaptive recovery of the travel industry.

MS. What are your passions and how do they tie in with your career today? Could you provide the readers with a bit more about your early life and career?

Barun Gupta. It was during my school days, when I started getting inclined towards the travel and hospitality industry and decided to pursue my career in Hotel Management. There was no stopping after that. I started off with Operations and then switched to Sales and Marketing. Now I have a combined experience of 16 years in domestic leisure, corporate sales and global sales. I have lead Incentive segment as market director for Marriott Hotels and handled global travel sales for Starwood Hotels and operated large incentive groups in India and abroad. With my passion towards the travel & hospitality industry, together with the professional experience of many years, I have been instrumental in setting up launch strategies for clients to enter the market successfully and also plan, organize and execute various sales and marketing activities to achieve business growth through development of distribution networks.

MS. Post the second wave, there have been many limitations and restrictions on travel and tourism, can you enlighten us about the recent changes in the global hospitality industry?

Barun Gupta. We can all agree to this fact that Covid-19 has caused a vast and unforeseen impact on all our lives. The hospitality, travel and tourism sectors have been hit hard but we can’t ignore the impact on society. Consumer behavior and eventually consumer spending have been, and will continue to be altered and business plans need to adapt to these new circumstances. The hospitality industry will need to bear these new trends in mind if it is to experience a renaissance and continue to thrive. It won’t be easy nor swift, but the industry has often shown its resilience and capacity to rebound from unexpected scenarios and is blessed with a solid backbone. If I look into the situation of the hotel I am working for currently as Director of Sales & Marketing (Crowne Plaza), there was a strong demand for Q4 2021 and particularly in relation to high demand dates in 2022. Incentive programs are also competing for space with high-rated leisure demand, especially in the back half of 2021. Despite the pandemic, we retained most of our property-based sales people, and customers have really appreciated the continuity of relationships.

This fostered a partnership approach when programs had to be postponed or cancelled and we’re now finding that this shared risk mindset is paying dividends as recovery takes hold.

MS. Please share your thoughts on the India Chapter vision document called “Vision 2025” Why is imparting and disseminating global education in incentive tourism to its members and industry is important?

Barun Gupta. Going ahead with the discovery of possibilities, India Chapter has come with its vision document called “Vision 2025” which looks forward to impart and disseminate global education in incentive tourism to its members and industry at large. We are tying up with leading global tourism and event education providers to embark on our journey to create professional incentive executives in years to come. Pedagogy of Events and Incentives with local knowledge and experience is being built along with the veterans of Indian tourism industry for its members.

Why one should join SITE?

Education and certification opportunities help you build skills and stand out from the competition

  • Learn ways to improve your business through online educational resources.
  • Take part in educational sessions at SITE events, led by industry experts.
  • Deepen your knowledge of the industry by becoming a Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS).

Access to the right incentive customers will take your business further

  • Make valuable connections with like-minded peers in our members-only database.
  • Access a global community of professionals at SITE events around the world.
  • Establish your credibility as a SITE member, guided by the SITE Code of Ethics.

Connect with a community of experts and peers around the world through SIT

  • Build a global base of incentive travel connections by attending SITE’s networking events.
  • Meet and connect with professionals in your area through involvement in your local chapter.
  • Make lifelong friendships with fellow professionals – all while growing your incentive travel business.

MS. Having won the “Best Wedding Venue in India – Hotels” award, how do you see the success of this award and how does Crowne Plaza Greater Noida meet the MICE requirement by providing seamless services to the guests?

Barun Gupta. This year, the wedding season has proved to be a whopper for the hospitality industry. The hotel has done a total of 113 weddings that includes destination weddings attracting clients from Tier 2, Tier 3 and metropolitan cities including Agra, Aligarh, Bareilly, Moradabad, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Kanpur, and more. The wedding segment was the first to revive from all the other segments and can be considered as a savior for the entire hotel industry, since our corporate consumers gained confidence in organizing their events with every successful wedding organized in the hotel.

MS. Tech is now an enabler for great hospitality. What key trends do you observe in the Hotel industry?

Barun Gupta. In 2020, Crowne Plaza Greater Noida launched World’s First Virtual Reality Experience Centre that allows users to indulge in an immersive 8K three-dimensional, computer-generated virtual environment that can be explored and interacted with as per the client’s requirements. The service enables the clients to experience a 360 tour of various hotel spaces from one point at the lobby. The technology is playing a key role in showcasing hotel’s expansive and versatile 51,000 sq.ft banqueting space and it allows the guests to experience and visualize multiple décor setups for the same space, thus assisting with decision making and positive closure of business queries.

Till November 2021, Virtual site visits were conducted for with over 7000 customers. Today VR helps the hotel to pick more than 60% its events. The story was featured by Forbes USA and various mainline, business, regional, travel trade and hospitality publications including Economic Times – Hospitality, Daily Pioneer, Business World – Hotelier, Hotelier India, Hospitality Talk, Travel Trends Today, Tourism Breaking News, HospitalityBiz India and many more.

MS. How many regional, national and international conventions and meetings, are hosted by Crowne Plaza, Greater Noida?

Barun Gupta. As hotel is very closely connected with India Expo Mart India Limited (IEML), which is within 10 minutes from the property, we have successfully done business as a host hotel during its leading exhibitions including SATTE, CPHI, Surat Dreams, REI, HGH, LED & Media Expo, Pedicon, Paperex, IHE and more.

MS. Please share your hobbies, what keeps you busy when you are away from work?

Barun Gupta. I love to travel with my dog and I always prefer to find new destinations which are pet friendly.