Travel Time Is The Overriding Criteria When On Business’
Desai, chairman and managing director, Mastek Ltd, breezes through
his jetsetting lifestyle, in conversation with Reema Sisodia
retrospect, how would you trace your journey from the initial stages
of establishment to the present times?
Travel has been an integral part of my endeavour to building the
image of Mastek and India across the globe. It has helped me develop
the enterprise from country to country gradually. From my first
business trip in 1986 to Munich, till this very day, travel has
been an indispensable aspect of my professional life. I have traced
the transition from the initial phases of travelling on a shoe-string
budget as a backpacker, to the present day wherein travel has become
both convenient and comfortable. The journey has, hence, been full
of contrasting incidents and experiences. But to describe it in
a nutshell, challenging is what comes to mind. Undoubtedly,
travel has been the prime facilitator in building the Mastek empire.
15 years of globe trotting, which destinations have featured on
your map and how frequently have you been travelling?
Over the past 15 years, schedules have varied from approximately
eight to nine times a year, essentially international, in Asia,
Europe and North America. As for domestic travel, I dont even
consider that as travel any more. In the forthcoming months, I would
be travelling across continents, tapping new sectors especially
in the Far East. Business potential exerts a direct influence on
the frequency of travel and destination visited.
would you describe yourself as a business traveller?
Being a peoples person, I enjoy meeting new people and getting
acquainted with diverse cultures. What I look forward to most when
jetsetting is interaction, communication and dialogue. As a discipline,
I make time for a customary jog. If time permits, I also make an
effort to visit interesting and unique places of the city. I have
a penchant for collecting books. Hence, I scout around for editions
that would add value to my collection. Visiting bookshops across
the world is a must do on my list. Sitting in a hotel
room does not inspire me at all.
performance the benchmark, which airlines would you position as
creme de la creme?
I dont think I would classify any one airline as numero uno.
Each airline has its own exclusive features. However, British Airways
(BA), Delta (DL), Singapore Airlines (SQ) and Air-India (A-I) are
airlines that are unrivaled, in my opinion. Convenient timings and
excellent connectivity are my foremost concerns. Keeping these as
yardsticks, all the above international airlines meet my expectations.
of the core contentions amongst airlines is in-flight service. Which
airline would you classify as the unmatched contestant in this category?
Air-India, Singapore Airlines and Delta are definitely top of the
line in terms of in-flight service. SQ has a special touch to it
ensuring a complete flying experience. Personal touch, coupled with
empathy and variety of offers on flight, gives them a definite edge.
But in terms of comfort especially with respect to cabin seats,
Delta scores over SQ. The revamped first class is a treat for the
weary business traveller.
revamped First Class of Delta is a treat for the weary
you consider frequent flier programme memberships a vantage point?
Well, one does derive certain benefits as a member of a frequent
flier programme such as seat preference and confirmed bookings.
Meal preferences and other specifications are also catered to. Personally
I think, Delta offers a very responsive frequent flier programme.
However, despite being part of most frequent flier programmes, I
still have to reap their benefits.
domestic travel contend with international travel at all?
Travelling within the country is definitely less stressful and our
domestic airlines, whether Jet or Indian Airlines, are extremely
efficient in terms of service and performance. Exemplary service
comes naturally to Indians. I personally prefer staying with Indian
hotel chains as their level of service is first-rate and personalised.
factors influence your choice of hotel?
Saving travel time is the overriding criteria when travelling on
business, which effectively makes strategic location the benchmark
to choose a hotel. The hotel should be located in proximity to the
venues of my scheduled appointments, as most of my meetings are
slated well in advance. I prefer hotels that are centrally located
as it ensures minimum wastage of time commuting from point A to
point B. The availability of Indian cuisine also plays its small
part. The Marriott, Holiday Inn, Six Continents and the Hilton are
my preferred choices.
order of significance, what aspects do you perceive as crucial with
regards to travel?
To begin with, time for me is a decisive factor. Thus, various mediums,
which facilitate travel, have to prove gainful with respect to time.
Keeping in mind our hectic schedules, convenient flight schedules
are vital aspects of business travel. Value for money, especially
with respect to hotel properties, is also fairly significant. The
preference and availability of Indian meals would be an added bonus.
Due to the frequency of travel, I have a separate parallel luggage
ready at base to nullify the hassles associated with pre-travel
arrangements, proving to be an effective time-saver.
is there a specific episode from your wealth of travel experiences
that you would like to share?
I could think of a few, but Ill tell you about a fairly recent
incident, during my stay in Japan. As I mentioned earlier, jogging
forms part of my daily regime. As I took off for my morning jog
around the Emperors Palace in Tokyo, I soon lost sight of
my hotel. As the Japanese are early risers, almost everyone in the
entourage was dressed in business suits already headed to work.
In this impeccably dressed crowd, I was practically the only person
wearing shorts, asking frantically for directions in an alien place
as language proved to be a major barrier. It was a strange morning
and this experience still lingers in my mind.