TD Conversations: Peter J. Bates in conversation with John Seifert, Retired Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy Group

Over four decades of experience in one of the world’s leading advertising, marketing, and public relations agencies, puts him in pole position to offer advice on positioning the country in the best way possible to attract tourists post the pandemic.

John Seifert, who recently stepped down from his role as CEO of Ogilvy Worldwide, after 41 years with the company, has a wealth of knowledge on many subjects. The man who joined the company as a summer intern in his sophomore year at the University of Southern California, was impressed by the culture of mentorship at Ogilvy. According to him, after that first step, serendipity took over, as he started in Los Angeles, moved to Chicago, and then on to Bangkok, where he took on the mantle of General Manager, becoming Country Manager in Singapore next and so on, until he was back in North America as CEO in 2008 and Worldwide CEO in 2016.

With so much real-life experience and a worldview that spans several continents, he has a lot of wisdom to share. He says, “In my 40+ years at Ogilvy, I’ve learnt that travel is the lifeblood of the human condition. I don’t have any doubts whatsoever that travel will bounce back incredibly well. Once we get a grip on managing this pandemic, it will return to pre-Covid levels, but probably even more so.”

He believes that India will have to be very strategic about welcoming travellers that haven’t been able to enjoy all the things that the country represents. According to him, our biggest strength is our people, as he’s never felt more welcomed and more enriched by human interactions in any other country.

“We know from the history of this industry that places that have the most success in welcoming visitors and making that part of their national identity are the ones that feel like everyone is impacted and benefits from it — not only the agencies and businesses that support tourism, be it hotels, airlines, or tourist destinations, but also the local communities, who play such an incredibly important role in shaping the experience for a visitor,” he avers.

Seifert believes that the destinations that are seeming to be coming back the fastest are the ones that will benefit for a while. To make the most of the world opening up, he recommends that India should work to ‘keep itself in the minds of people.’ He advises that we should be prepared and do the homework… to be aware of the types of travellers we can expect, what experiences they’ll demand, and what safety protocols to put in place.

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