Business Today
India is the new darling of Asia, says Singapore Airlines GM David Lau

David Lau, GM of Singapore Airlines, India, on luxury travel, the Indian business class traveller and why the world loves India.

David Lau, GM of Singapore Airlines, India

David Lau, GM of Singapore Airlines, India

After about 25 years of working with Singapore Airlines, David Lau (51) has incredible insights into the state of mind of the discerning Indian traveller. Here, he explains why India is on the map for global travellers.

#A New Class of Travel The business traveller in India has evolved into a seasoned consumer of services. They have new demands and expectations that we have to keep updating ourselves to. We are looking into personalisation of services pertinent to savvy and travel-oriented Indian customers. We are introducing our new premium economy in India (Delhi and Mumbai) later this month, based on feedback received from our customers. It has been tailored to provide passengers with an alternative to medium to long haul travel by paying a little more. This means access to priority check-in, priority baggage and an increased baggage allowance. Other features to look forward to would be a wide range of in-flight offerings including a 'Book the Cook' service, champagne, curated wines and a specially-designed collector's edition amenity kit.

#India as a Popular Destination A market of 1.25 billion people certainly holds a lot of potential for us. It's just the tip of the iceberg. We expect to see more traffic in terms of business, meetings, incentives and vacations. Indians are travelling a lot more, reading more and there is increased awareness about what's available. From the inbound perspective, there has been a growing interest in India because Prime Minister Modi is travelling the world promoting the idea of Indianness and all it entails. The country has become the new darling of Asia and has become significantly popular with tourists and businessmen from Singapore and China given the investment climate in the country.

#Prioritising the Business Traveller We value and notice the changing preferences of business travellers. Many of them don't fly Business or First class out of India if they are travelling within Asia. They may be reluctant to pay a premium for short-haul travel and that's understandable. For these business travellers, premium economy is a new standpoint, a new travel experience. Business class travellers seek reliable service and a solid on-board experience where they can work, rest and have all the on-ground comforts while flying.

#What's Cooking We have the widest list of special meals and preferences and the 'shahi thali' is new on the menu. This is an Indian platter than features a range of Indian delicacies designed by chef Sanjeev Kapoor. We have also reintroduced South Indian meals on our flights on popular demand. The 'Book the Cook' service is available on all flights originating from Singapore and travellers will also be able to pair their choice of meal with a glass of Ernest Rapeneau Brut Prestige champagne, which will be available throughout the flight on all routes. We have an international culinary panel comprising chefs and food experts such as Alfred Portale and Suzanne Goin from the United States, Sanjeev Kapoor from India, Carlo Cracco from Italy, Georges Blanc from France, Matt Moran from Australia and Yoshihiro Murata from Japan, who helped design these new menus.

Consistency establishes a benchmark for customers. That's how we literally wrote the book on luxury.

#Brand Value
Our core strength lies in providing a top notch in-flight experience through our exceptional crew. We have become more efficient and today cater to the business class traveller's demands. We literally wrote the book on luxury travel. We believe in the consistency of service, irrespective of whether the crew on board is Indian or Singaporean. We offer passengers a sense of familiarity, security and the feeling of being at home as service is personalised. Profiling our customers with the help of a computer application assists in service innovation as well. The idea is to treat the customer as a person and not as a digit and that's what we thrive on.

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