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NEWS - ASIA, MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA INDIA’S Bharat Petroleum enters the travel business Bharat Petroleum (BPCL), India’s second largest oil marketing company, is planning to enter the travel business with its personal travel offering, Happy Roads, which would help travellers plan and execute road trips, two senior company officials said. BPCL is looking to launch the app within the next two months, the executives said, requesting anonymity. Through the app, the state-run company hopes to draw more millennials, seen as being attuned to travelling by road, into its customer base. “We are doing something very different which no one has done. We have tied up with some of the best content creators on travel for Happy Roads. Our app will also give real time updates on travel destinations to our customers,” said the first senior official from BPCL quoted above. A user planning a trip on Happy Roads will be able to select travel options from wildlife, adventure, nature, offbeat, romantic, leisure, religious and heritage. The app will also help users explore nearby destinations and plan a trip. In this segment, Happy Roads would compete with existing players such as TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet India. BPCL has tied up with Bharti Axa general insurance and PolicyBazar for providing travel insurance and car rental company Zoom Car, for cars and drivers. Also on board is 3M, a car wash and wax solutions provider. “If someone is using our application, they would be updated on the services provided and would be using our facilities on the network they seek to travel. This will help us connect to customers, give a boost to our loyalty programs and help us acquire new customers,” added BPCL. MALAYSIAN FUEL retailers against fuel ceiling price Petrol station retailers across Malaysia do not welcome the government’s proposal to impose ceiling price on all fuel grades at petrol stations nationwide, according to Sarawak Petroleum Products Agents Association president Edwin Banta. Retailers are concerned that the ceiling price proposal would create a non uniform price for all fuels sold at petrol stations because this will lead to a price war among petrol brands and also between individual petrol stations, which means petrol stations will have to sacrifice their short term margins. “This may initially be good for the consumers but as more and more petrol stations eventually shut down, the consumer will have to travel further and further to buy their products from a limited number of sites. Retailers will have to retrench their staff and will choose to provide the bare minimal services to their customers in the event of a price war. This is because services will not be the purchasing point for consumers anymore, and profit margins for retailers will not permit them to employ sufficient staff to help the consumers,” Edwin said. “Rural communities will suffer the most as there will be minimal or zero competition in their areas as opposed to urban sites. A single petrol station servicing an entire town will most likely place their price at ceiling level and that will cause hardship to the rural communities. Also, areas with a limited number of petrol stations will experience the same predicament. Furthermore, rampant illegal activities will surface, where illegal activities to buy at minimal price but in very high volume will lead to petroleum unavailability for the other consumers,” he added. Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani pointed out that the setting of a ceiling, said to be apparently fair to all, was one of the options the government was considering to tackle the issue of escalating oil price. He, however, said the government was mindful whether the policy would be a problem for those living on the outskirts. PTT Philippines open Café Amazon Franchise PTT Philippines, a subsidiary of Thailand’s largest gas and energy company PTT Public Company Limited, has opened the local franchising for its coffee shop chain Café Amazon after getting the nod from its parent company. PTT Philippines President and CEO Sukanya Seriyothin said with the master franchise authority from PTT Thailand, they could now start offering the franchise to local investors. However Café Amazon will not be exclusive to PTT gasoline stations. Seriyothin explained that a franchisee may open a branch at any strategic locations such as malls, office buildings, schools, condominiums, and rest areas, among others. A standalone store requires a 100-160-square-meter area, while an in-building must have a minimum of 40 square-meter space with a total investment that goes around four to eight million pesos per branch. Launched in 2002 in Thailand by PTT Group, Café Amazon was initially aimed at providing complete experience to customers of PTT stations. It eventually branched out to other areas and countries like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Japan, and recently, the PhilippinesCafé Amazon now has more than 1,700 stores in six countries. “We are bringing Café Amazon to the Philippines to share with Filipino consumers the best fresh coffee quality,” said PTT Philippines Marketing Director Thitiroj Rergsumran. “It’s not your typical coffee shop. It provides a different kind of taste and experience.” erpecnews is published by McLean Events, Conferences and Media Ltd. 11


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