Q&A Vishwajeet Singh Epitome Travels, chief information officer (CIO)
Vishwajeet Singh, chief information officer (CIO), Epitome Travels, having over 14 years of experience, is an IT evangelist and innovator. He has extensive experience in IT Infrastructure Management (architecture, selection, and internalization) of large and heterogeneous IT setups.
He has been a winner of two prestigious D&B 2009 Awards for Best CTO Overall and for ‘Process Excellence’ both under Logistics and Transportation.
1. Explain the structure of the travel industry and Epitome’s segment of operations.
Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. It is also one of the most fragmented.
Travel and tourism are two aspects of the industry and can be viewed separately, though many of the players are involved in both the sectors. Travel involves distributors (travel agents, travel suppliers, and travel operators), transport (rail, air, sea, and road), and regulatory bodies (ABTA, ADTOI, IATO, IATA, and UFTA). Tourism includes accommodation (hotels, resorts, B&B, and home stays), tour operators, tourism agencies, conference/exhibition operators, MoTourism (Ministry of Tourism), regulatory bodies, and so on.
Epitome Travels is a company offering solutions to all different verticals, that is, B2B, B2C, and B2E customers. We have categorically divided our solutions based on the segments we are trying to address. We have a dedicated MICE vertical which is known as planMice.com, the other one is dedicated for the events and it is known as Oneforallevents.com.
Our B2B arm is known as Morethantickets.com, where we focus on enhancing the earning potential of many travel companies in the country. The portal has been designed to upsell travel agencies, generate more revenues, and at the same time enable them to deliver customer delight and satisfaction.
Following this launch we have few other portals in the offing such as Travelaura.com, ETfiesta.com, and so on that would address all the corporate travel related requirements. These will not only offer the corporate the best rates, but also automate their complete travel authorization process. It will have a module-based system with complete customization options. We would launch a new concept in Indian travel industry by offering any single office agency to become a multi-location agency. We will also help them in nurturing their current manpower to become more efficient and tech savvy.
2. How big is the domestic travel industry? How is it different from its global counterpart?
As per available statistics, tourism in India is the largest service industry, with a contribution of 6.23 percent to the national GDP and 8.78 percent of the total employment in India. The domestic travel industry is maturing. The margins are low even though the volumes are high. It is incredible to note that some of the travel companies are much larger than the corporate customers themselves.
There is not much difference between the domestic and global travel industry. With the increasing dispensable incomes and the world becoming one global village, thanks to Internet, India travel industry is fast catching up with its global counterparts. With the burgeoning of MNCs in India and the exposure from large number of people traveling overseas, the travel industry is on an upswing. India plays an important role in the PNL (profit and loss) of many global travel giants as not only is India a significant travel destination, it caters to a large customer base as well. According to World Travel and Tourism Council, India will be a tourism hotspot from 2009–2018, having the highest 10-year growth potential.
3. What are the various IT applications being used by the travel industry, be it domestic travel agents, global distribution services (GDS) company, and so on?
Today’s customer is very discerning. Competition and globalization has taken customer service to new levels. Any kind of service has to be proactive and not reactive. People expect information at the click of a button. This ensures that all players have invested in IT in measures, big or small. Moreover, due to the web platform, lot of data is being accumulated every day; all travel companies require solutions such as data mining, and so on. Owing to the multifold increase in online transactions, cloud computing, and resultant security issues, IT solutions ensuring safeguard against any threats gain tremendous significance.
4. How is Epitome using IT to achieve competitive advantage?
We are relying on people to deliver excellence and IT to support the scalability of our operations, IT is our backbone and we have heavily invested into technology today. We have a team of in-house developers and infrastructure experts who are working day and night to make sure that we remain exclusive among our competitors.
We are 100 percent virtualized on both server and client end for which we are using VM Ware and Citrix. We have used Open Source technology on the other end to keep ourselves low on cost but high on quality. All our Blade servers as well as physical servers are from IBM.
5. What is your current engagement with IBM? Why did you opt for IBM amidst other players?
We are using IBM BladeCenters for all our mission critical applications today. In fact we have virtualized over 32 servers on BladeCenters currently. We are also using IBM for storage and Tape Library.
Our association with IBM commenced in 2010. My personal experience with IBM has been for over 14 years now.
We have always considered IBM as a leader in solutions and it has always emerged as the unanimous choice. When we undertook sizing up of the infrastructure, especially physical servers, we compared each and every cost. Not only has the implementation increased the overall efficiency, it has proved economical from investment point of view as well.
So far, our experience with IBM has been very remarkable, be it Sales or Support or Customer Service. Owing to the BladeCenters, we have a very good uptime.
We would most definitely extend our association with IBM, be it scaling up the infrastructure or adopting solutions such as business intelligence, in the future.
6. Do Blade servers cater to large organizations alone?
No, the incredible thing about BladeCenters is that both large and small organizations can avail its benefits.
7. What level of scalability can organizations expect after deploying IBM Blade Center?
BladeCenters are the machine to trust, it is scalable and easy to maintain. CPU cores are increasing day by day, which is anyway complimenting our decisions to move on a BladeCenter.
8. How do the various applications translate into a better experience for the end consumers?
One of the foremost benefits of having storage on IBM BladeCenter is the speed. It enables data to travel up to 10x speeds hence resulting into enhanced online transactions.