For him, Amadeus was a start-up in the first wake of technology coming into Indian travel space. He was the master hands-on guy who later drove the Roseate brand in Delhi, Rishikesh and London. He became the classic understated icon for luxury – his amazing legacy will live on!
He was his own man, his own type, inimitable, unique. As a young legend, at the early age of just 48 years, he had become the unmistakable icon for luxury. Passionate, intense on his goals, I remember his once telling me that making brands was easier in today’s world, if only one remained focussed. Indeed, in just a few years, he had made his unmistakable mark on the world of luxury hotels, rubbing shoulders with established names in the business.
Ankur Bhatia was the moving spirit of Bird Group, ably assisted by his parents and brother. His team was totally committed to him, they were all together in challenging the odds. He was the first in the GDS world, a hands-on in the business, interacting with travel agents, the media and his principals. He was ambitious and nothing was too large for him to pursue. Roseate Hotels is a lasting legacy for him, born out of his deep concern for detailing, each item being true to understated luxury.
Raman Mohan, who headed Amadeus Marketing and Communications between 1996 and 2001, recalled his interview with Ankur in December 1995: “it was a quick meeting as we already had been in touch on work earlier and after a brief chat he said you can start on 1st January and will send you an offer letter, you would join us as Marketing Manager. That was the Ankur I knew from day one, quick decisions and as I was to realize later that he knew beforehand what he wanted to do and did not waste any time to get on with the job.
From 1996- 2001, Ankur, Rakesh (who is now the CEO) and myself travelled the length and breadth of the Subcontinent setting up nearly 25 offices. Once he had clarity in his mind on the detail, he would let Rakesh and me take forward. One area that he wanted to completely control and be hands on was tech, be it the office systems or the connectivity, especially when setting up new offices. I remember on numerous occasions he would even insist on getting all phones configured himself and ensure all features worked to perfection.
His work ethos was simple – whatever you do it must be the best and he stood by that regardless of what it would entail in terms of cost and logistics. When Miss World was held in Bangalore he had to go. So, when we could not get good passes what did he do. He tied up with the official travel partner and said we will give you Amadeus sets at all hotels / locations to help coordinate travel. In exchange I need the best passes. Four of us along with him were in the VVIP enclosure for the event.
His thought process was amazing. Once when in Mumbai we were to sign a big contract with Nasser Bhai of Akbar Travels. He suddenly said to me, Raman we should have a nice pen for Nasser Bhai to sign the contract. Please go to the Mount Blanc shop at the Oberoi and pick up the best. Within fifteen minutes I had walked out with an expensive pen. He looked after his core team extremely well – he made sure what he had, we also had. We were proud owners of the entire series of the Nokia Communicators and a number of other tech gadgets.”