Today's Traveller Interviews

Anirban Sengupta – bucking the trend is our competitive edge

Today’s Traveller invites Anirban Sengupta, CEO, 2HUB Pvt Ltd to share insights on his business philosophy and why he does what he does. Known for his seminal approach and innovative thinking, he articulates his outlook on current and future travel trends.

Anirban Sengupta,  CEO, 2HUB Pvt Ltd
Anirban Sengupta, CEO, 2HUB Pvt Ltd

Today’s Traveller: What is the business philosophy of your motto ‘connecting the dots ‘?

Anirban Sengputa : One of the most common questions asked during many business transactions is – “Why should we do business with you?” Almost all of us have our own version of ‘tried-and-tested ‘ and ‘smack-out-of-the-park ‘ winning answers, which usually gets us the deal.

But if we were to elevate this question to another level and question ourselves inwardly – “Why does our client do business with us?” Maybe we will find a different answer. We will realise that it’s not about winning a specific deal but an answer to why we do what we do.

The phrase “connecting the dots” very literally is a metaphor to illustrate an ability to associate one idea with another, to find the big picture, or salient feature, in a mass of data. It can mean using extrapolation to solve a mystery from clues, or else come to a conclusion from various facts.

At 2HUB we build our business philosophy around this belief. Why we exist, why we do business and why our clients do business with us is built on this single belief. We believe in making connections. We connect one dot to the other, in a universe of mass disconnected dots, till we find the ‘big picture ‘.

We solve problems, even before they can become problems. So in essence, we are connected to the needs of our customers not just through a single business transaction but through a series of touchpoints and providing multi-dimensional solutions to their needs.         

Today’s Traveller: What separates 2HUB from other service providers in a highly competitive space?

Anirban Sengupta : It’s not ‘what we do ’ but ‘how we do ’ it. What separates us from our competitors is not the services we provide but how we provide them to our clients. While the space we operate in may be competitive but our association with our clients, by virtue of our ‘connecting the dots’ philosophy, is unparalleled. There is a high level of personalisation and attention to detail which gives us a very high repeat rate and referrals

Today’s Traveller: Tell us briefly about the strategy in place for post-pandemic business preparedness at 2HUB?

Anirban Sengupta : The reason we don’t have a strategy is that it has always been business as usual for us – at least in spirit. When COVID hit us we were at the peak of our show. Surely, we came to a grinding halt, but we used this time to regroup and refocus.

We dug deep inside to refine our purpose and values. We looked at diversification. We added new product lines. We looked at new markets and opportunities. There was slowness in the market but our business at 2HUB was always in motion. We always believed that this is a temporary phase and the bounce back will be tremendous and we remained prepared for the turnaround.

There were small periods of vacuum, but due to our diversity of services, we remained relevant. 

Today’s Traveller: Tell us more about your Ecom Marketplace and how it will change the travel ecosystem

Anirban Sengupta : There is a lot of clutter in the travel technology space today, but not many have been inspiring. An efficient booking engine is just not enough.

Our Ecom vision is to create a tech-enabled travel ecosystem. We will be competing with the best in the world in terms of technology, ease of use and service offerings. What will differentiate our product will be its vastness of scope and our ambition to provide a product not seen in the travel domain before, and that would be just the beginning of our tech journey.   

Today’s Traveller: You have an excellent understanding of the travel market. What is your prognosis on recovery and the challenges the industry faces in its current outlook?

Anirban Sengupta : The biggest challenge for the industry as a whole will be in ‘recovery’ itself. While we are certain that there would be a recovery in the market, we just don’t know when and by how much.

The market will be extremely speculative and extremely cautious – put together this is not a very healthy combination in business. Almost all business trends and forecasts have been proven wrong. The pandemic has been a great leveller – and all of us are starting from zero. We are like start-ups bootstrapping towards growth.

Most operations are crippled by capital. There has been no booster from the government. Borrowing is difficult and equity has been diluted.

Many businesses will therefore find it difficult to recover in spite of favourable opportunities. However, on the supply side, the main challenge would lie in the ‘level of preparedness ‘.

Operations at many companies were sidelined if not halted at the onset of the pandemic. The market saw a gradual upsurge last Diwali till the 2nd wave and then again the current upsurge. The on-off-on-off mode of operations is seriously taking a toll on products and talent. Only the top few hotels/chains are able to maintain some semblance and the rest are in disarray.

Speculation and caution are playing their game here as well. No one is able to fully push the peddle. Airlines are looking at the scenario completely differently. So there is no single or even similar prognosis to the challenge.

Each business has a differing outlook based on how much this pandemic has affected us and on our speculations and risk-taking abilities / cautionary tendencies.

Today’s Traveller: It is a tough time for the travel industry. Is it wise to buck the trend and go ahead with expanding your geographical network in India and overseas as well as developing new products and services for the future?

Anirban Sengupta : This is a follow up from the last statement – that each one of us has a different outlook on the situation based on how the pandemic impacted us.

As I mentioned earlier, we never really stopped operating – sure the volumes were down but we never stopped. Which actually gave us a different perspective on the situation and our decisions are based on this. Also, our experience tells us that tough times are temporary. Every downswing has a more than equal upswing. We may not know when, but it is certain. In some manner bucking the trend is our competitive edge which has kept us relevant and prepared.

Read More: Corporate Connect

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