Caesars Travel Group: Soaring to new heights

Part II of interview with the CEO of Caesars Travel Group

Caesars Travel Group CEO P N J Kumar

In an industry where biggest is not always the best, Caesars Travel Group incorporated in 1992 started with a small profile. Today, it is heading to become a competitive, innovative company at par with the key players in the aviation industry in Kuwait. We are noticing that they have grown as one of the biggest suppliers now unlike other travel groups, dealing with many diversified activities under one travel platform. Business in every industry are dealing with increased competition and travel agencies are no exception, therefore, it’s always a curiosity to know more about Caesars Travel Group that within the span of these 25 years, how they have managed to grow to the current levels apart from the many turbulences happening in the aviation field at the moment. We had a face to face meeting with the CEO of Caesars Travel Group, PNJ Kumar, who is working with the industry for the last 25 years with a dignified position till now and who is the back-bone of the steady growth of Caesars Travel Group.

Q: Passengers complain about getting their seat at the end of the aircraft though they have purchased the tickets well in advance, why is this happening?
A: It’s the duty of the travel agency dealing officer that when an air ticket is issued to a passenger, he should immediately confirm the seating, meals plan and other special handling messages if any to get it confirmed immediately and the same to be communicated to the passenger when handing over the ticket to them whereas this ethic is not followed by many of the travel agencies as their intensions are only to make sales, not to keep the clients happy by giving them excellent services, thereby making these clients as repeated passengers to that agency.

Many of the passengers realize this only after boarding the aircraft and directed to their seats by the crew. Yes, it’s not right from the part of a travel agent as most of the cases, these sorts of mistakes are happening which can be avoided by appointing qualified staff who has the specialized skills in dealing in this field. Exemptions are there, some of the aircrafts are not supporting seating plans and such special handling privileges, which should be communicated to the passenger at the same time when handing over the ticket in order to avoid their last minute disappointment when locating their seats in the aircraft.

Q: The passengers are confused about the right location for their holidays and come to the travel agent for guidance and information but, very few are competent to handle this, how is your division, Caesars Holidays in dealing with such matters?

A: With so much advertising shoved in our faces these days between print, TV and digital media all vying for our attention, deciding which travel destinations to visit can be overwhelming. Budget and time will undoubtedly play a part in the decision making process but with so many amazing places in the world, how do you whittle it down? When you approach a travel agent, he should spend some time with you patiently, giving several options to you by explaining about the unique features on each location where you are planning to visit.

In most cases, the same ignorance from travel agent may put you in trouble without properly communicating the visa rules, contraband items to carry, currency and value, cultures of the place that you are planning to visit and many such key points which you should be aware of, before starting your journey. Some of the complaints from passengers after returning from their holidays are that their hotels, ground services and other packages were not at par with their expectations and blaming the travel agents.

At Caesars Holidays, we are trying our level best to satisfy our customers by meeting these key elements and we have a broad spectrum of holiday platforms such as world’s leading cruises, Cox & Kings holidays for the NRI Indians, economical way of offering the car rental services through “Flexible Autos” and a department specially made to meet the demands of customers for their tailor-made packages.

Q: Currently, everything is available through internet such as air tickets, hotels, tour packages, car rental, you name it everything and in this case why you prefer a passenger to approach the travel agent?

A: I understand that this is the age of doing everything online, can working with a travel agent really save you money? Turns out the answers are yes because travel agents usually give them correct information than the machine where there are many hidden rules if the right questions are not asked and upon taking these services through internet you may be stuck with it. In offering more options and amenities, online travel sites have actually made it more confusing to figure out what they are selling, not less so. The explosion of restrictions and fees – many of which are not obvious to the casual travel buyer – further muddies understanding of the bottom line on any itinerary. If you can get a great deal in 30 seconds online, that’s preferable to playing phone tag with an agent, but there are times when planning a trip with a travel agent will save you time, money, and frustration. Here’s how to tell when you should use an agent and when to go it alone.

Q: At Caesars, we have noticed that you have many travel offices, many airline representations both in passenger, cargo and holiday offices, don’t you think the travel agents may feel conflict of interest in dealing with you when you have many airline representation offices but at the same time, you have enough travel offices to promote them without depending on other travel agents?

A: Though we have many travel offices, the airline representation (passenger and cargo) and holiday franchisee offices are always kept as independent entities which has no connection whatsoever with our travel offices, they always used to keep the same level of supports used to give to other travel agents. We are only the sponsors for these represented brands without any interference in their internal activities and according to me, these represented brand offices have proved their independent status among the travel trade, by keeping the same level of supports giving to our travel offices, therefore, I don’t think the concern that you have expressed about the conflict of interest is not at all relevant. Once again, let me reiterate my position in this regard that without the support from the other travel agents, these brands represented offices cannot survive and definitely, these offices always give the prime importance to protect the interests of these travel agents being they are the feeders for these offices.

Q: We have seen that lots of travel agencies are closing down due to the failure in recovering the huge receivables from corporate, how it is happening and how you are trying to overcome this situation?

A: In general, it’s a wrong saying that all the travel agents are working against each other but it’s not the fact, we are one family and from the same fraternity though our dealings are towards the same product. Many of the travel agents are also not equipped with these ideologies and just spoiling this platform which is an elite and colorful profession than uniting together for better results. Ultimately, who is taking the maximum advantage of such rivalry happening between us, mainly the corporate clients who enjoy getting all privileges from the travel agents by availing credits for long durations with neck-to-neck airline costs against air tickets and other ancillary services.

It’s a common practice among the corporate houses that availing credit from a travel agent and when it has become huge amount, switch over to another travel agent by not settling this outstanding amount toward their previous agency and the poor agent is running behind them for their money for months and years, meanwhile, many of them closing down their companies as you asked me, because of this huge outstanding amount whereas they have to settle their airline bills on every week, for that they used to depend on loans from banks, ultimately end up in such disasters that they could not settle these loan to the bank as these corporate never settle their bills.

It’s a question, why it is happening? If the travel agents have a common unity and if any corporate is approaching for a credit, before starting the business if these travel agents can insist them to settle their outstanding amounts with their previous handling agents, in other words, to bring a no objection certificate, none of the corporate can misuse the travel agents for their own benefits but unfortunately, it is not happening due to the narrow outlook maintained by the agents and at the end, we are suffering. It’s my opinion that let the travel agents themselves work together with an understanding, not as enemies but as a family and it’s very easy to protect from this situation provided the agencies should not take any credit contract from corporate.

Q: What are the future plans of Caesars Travel Group?

A: Caesars mission when founding this travel set-up is to become the true friend of our passengers in supporting the travel needs under one roof, whether it is for airline tickets, leisure, medical, cargo or you name it, everything. We are on the way to achieve this goal and yes, still to go for a long journey which are happening in Caesars Travel Group step by step. Moreover, each and every office of Caesars and the employees working under us should be the true companion of our valued passengers in guiding them to benefit the maximum out of traveling by giving economized options, thereby developing a confidence on us as their trusted partner for the travel industry.

Caesars Travel Group was previously a local player, concentrating in Kuwait only but currently, we have become a Global Player, having offices in India, Dubai and very soon, starting in other countries too. This is to give a supporting hand to our passengers to have more options of buying their travel documents based on the concept of economizing their budget as they have many options to compare their expenses by checking the cost applicable in various countries where we have our business interests which I can say, an indirect online tool to them. We have many leading airline’s passenger/cargo representations, leisure representations such as cruise companies, holiday/tours companies, having a dedicated inbound Tours department which is the one only company in Kuwait for promoting Kuwait Tourism, Shipping Division, Grand Limo for exclusive taxi services in Kuwait and many such new projects are on the way to make this set-up as a one stop umbrella of delivering the diversified travel services to the passengers.

Q: How do you rate the Caesars Travel Group’s publicities, is it by buying the same through spending which many of the business organizations do at the moment?

A: How to get publicity when you have no news to share? Not exaggerating, yes-we have many hot news to share with our passengers on a daily basis regarding the developments happening inside Caesars Travel Group which I can say, not possible without the strong and continuous support that our clients are giving, it needs no pumping of money to get the publicities but automatically, spreads through word of mouth which we believe the true tool for the establishment of a company. In brief, we are not a company to buy the goodwill through publicities whereas striving towards it through the dedicated and unique services extended to our clients but at the same time, I will not forget about the publicities which we have to simultaneously looked upon which is the need of the hour in any industry at this point in time.

To conclude, meeting with the CEO of Caesars Travel Group, PNJ Kumar, we have seen a set-up with lots of future plans in an organized way of chalking out the same which proudly they can say that it has been implemented stage by stage in Kuwait market with 35 offices across the country as of now since their inception in 1992. Kumar with his vast experience in this industry for more than 25 years, proved his business model as one of the unique kinds in travel industry, absolutely elite not comparable with others, made a unique identity of his own and further, we came to understand that still, many diversified expansion activities are under way with Caesars Travel Group related to the travel industry which are mainly targeted to the passengers for giving an array of services which is the prime necessity of the time where the passengers are looking for a true partner whom they can depend on.


By Jins M Jose

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