‘TravelScapes’ explores infinite possibilities behind this initiative in an exclusive interview with Vinay Malhotra, COO – South Asia, VFS Global
Please highlight the innovative visa facilitation services and equipment at the new centre, which will help easy visa processing for the customers.
In terms of size, location, design and state-of-the-art technology, this centre represents a benchmark for visa facilitation services in India, and we are proud to offer services here to citizens in the capital. The centre’s enhanced physical and IT infrastructure can ensure faster services for applicants and inbuilt data security measures allow applications to be processed in a secure and streamlined manner.
The biggest benefit of the centre to applicants is its capability to process a high number of applications and have extended working hours, especially in peak season. Applicants can submit applications in plush surroundings, spread across 67,000 sq. ft. of space, with Premium Lounges for personalised services and comprehensive safety provisions in a contemporary setting. Suitable staffing and sizing (increased number of biometric booths, for example) have also been put in place. We value our applicants’ time and resources and so have introduced an exclusive passport collection area, an intelligent queue management system and a children’s play area.
Please highlight on the focus segments and services that VFS Global caters to.
VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions, serving 48 client governments worldwide. We have operations in 124 countries with approximately 50 percent market share in the visa processing business, and have processed over 111 million applications till date.
Over the last decade, India has emerged as an important travel hub, for business and tourist travellers alike, and we have expanded operations substantially over the last few years. This rise in outbound travel is a part of the exponential growth in tourism we have observed in the larger Asia Pacific region, and the Indian traveller is becoming an integral part of that travel boom.
What are the strategies for expansion in 2016?
We have always been a technology-driven company and innovation is a key business driver for us. For example, we are in the last stages of developing a mobile app that will enable customers to apply for visas through their mobile phones. We have also rolled out on-demand mobile biometrics for ‘doorstep biometric enrolment’ for UK visas in China, and are looking at introducing this in India as well. Another solution for which we have received a lot of recognition, is LIDProTM, or Location Independent Document Processing, that enables an embassy in one country to remotely process visa applications in another country.
Governments too are increasingly recognizing that the more technology-enabled visa process becomes for travelers, the more likely they are to travel. So our aim is to use innovation and technology to increase efficiencies within the guidelines prescribed by our clients, and that’s where we are looking to further consolidate our position.
Which are the new destinations that VFS Global plans to incorporate in its portfolio with the coming New Year?
Currently, we serve 48 client governments worldwide and are present in 124 countries. In India particularly, where we currently serve 35 client governments, we hope to significantly expand our client portfolio over the next year, and comprehensively increase our service offerings for existing clients.
What are the major challenges faced while providing visa facilitation services and how VFS Global resolves them being a benchmarking visa facility provider amongst many in the industry?
Data and information security is an extremely critical element of our service solution and performance. Given the sensitivity of data and information we deal with, ensuring quality control by our systems across people and geographies – 24x7, 365 days of the year – in an uncompromising manner, is one of our biggest focus areas.
So besides enhanced physical security parameters, we also have stringent information security systems that are ISO-certified and subject to internal and external audits and risk assessments. We believe our ability to offer clients comprehensive data protection coupled with speedy and streamlined services is a key differentiator for us.