Wednesday, November 14th, 2001
Our company President was in Pakistan last week and reports life is tense, but returning to normal. Ex-pats working for multinational companies have returned to their office towers in Karachi. Foreign school teachers are back in their classrooms. The Canadian High Commission in Islamabad is taking visa applications again. There is even enough stability that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf could leave his office to travel to Europe and the U.S.
Still, there is a great deal of anxiety among Pakistanis. We see this very much in evidence in the high schools and universities, where students are worried that hopes to study in Western institutions may be crushed under the weight of increased security and suspicion. Also, a recent story of a shooting death of a Pakistani youth in New Jersey has frightened many parents who considered sending sons and daughters to American universities.
Hence, for Canada and for those institutions wishing to take ad- vantage of this opportunity to attract Pakistani students, current travel to Pakistan requires careful planning. Most Western air-lines have suspended flights to the county. Previously popular routings with Thai and Singapore Airlines are no longer possible. However, the excellent Emirates Airlines is still flying daily to Karachi and Lahore via Dubai. Pakistan International Airlines continues to operate its schedule to many cities. A pleasant surprise for some will be Karachi’s airport, without doubt the finest in all of South Asia. This is also a great time to book a hotel, as the Avari and Pearl Continental 5-star chains in Karachi and Lahore report they are virtually empty. This is not the case in Islamabad, where Western media covering the war in Afghanistan have booked most hotels and are even paying 500 U.S. dollars per day to rent the roof for their satellite feeds.
It’s one of our common shortcomings as Canadians. We simply don’t do what is necessary to create an “identity” in markets abroad. There are a number of reasons why this is so, as well as a number of ways to counteract this difficulty.
One way is to execute a strategy calling for repeat visits to the same places. Ideally you visit the same contacts, schools and other key centres. Also, the institution should send the same person on each such visit to the same place. Why?
First, developing confidence and comfort in a mutual relationship is important. The reliance on email alone is not shared in many overseas environments nearly to the extent that it is in Canada. Getting to know someone better in person often makes people feel more at ease in emailing later. It also can be frustrating for those overseas to have to constantly educate new individuals about their institution, education system or other attributes. Finally, because so many institutions from all over the world send representatives abroad as one-off visits – students, institutions and other parties overseas draw inferences of real commitment only when they see a commitment expressed through repeat visits.
How often is enough? This of course depends on the nature and quality of the relationships canvassed. But as a rough guide, we recommend two or three visits a year. This is the only way to distinguish yourself from others who come just once a year, or once in two years. Furthermore, you must keep up this annual schedule of repeat visits over a period of several years. Follow this plan and you will see how your investment matures.
Planning a trip to Southeast Asia? The ASEAN Air Pass allows onward travel to an participating ASEAN airline for $109 USD per sector. Participating airlines include Philippine Airlines, Thai Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Air, Garuda Indonesia Air, Vietnam Air and Silk Air. Travellers can then visit up to seven countries, namely the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. Travellers must have a transatlantic or transpacific ticket through one of these airlines which then entitles travel at the per sector fare on any of the participating airlines. Travel on the ASEAN Air Pass must take place over a minimum period of three days and a maximum of two months.
The ASEAN Hotel Pass is also available to travellers. Holders are entitled to a rate of $75 USD at participating ASEAN hotels, for a maximum of seven nights’ stay per hotel. Both the ASEAN Air and Hotel Pass are available from participating ASEAN airline offices and travel agents outside ASEAN countries. This special offer is only valid until December 31, 2001.
Visit http://www.aseanta.org/ for more information.