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Want to start a travel company?
Amit Thaker |
September 16, 2004
he travel industry in India is -- without doubt -- headed for big growth. This includes Indians travelling within India. With awareness growing about India abroad, increasing numbers of foreign travellers are also hitting Indian shores.
The growth of the overall industry will trigger the growth of niche travel options, including adventure and offbeat travel.
Before starting on your own in the adventure travel business, it might be wise to keep certain considerations in mind:
- Just like any enterprise, knowing and understanding your product and your client is extremely critical.
- On the product front, an adventure travel firm has to have firsthand knowledge, experience and expertise in adventure activities. If you have the skills, great. Else, you could begin by joining adventure training institutes, work for other adventure travel companies or partner with/hire a technical team.
- You will need to build a database of locations you can offer, suppliers, transporters, hotel/resort surveys, prices of the same, travel coordinators, etc. You can develop this by travelling to places yourself, with other companies, or hiring people with a related network.
- It is critical to identify who you are targeting clearly, adjusting the trips or activities to their needs and developing a marketing plan according to your target market profile.
- Soft skills -- customer service, event management, marketing, planning -- play a vital role in the travel business. It is often the key in differentiating yourself from the plethora of companies out there. When considering a product or undertaking an activity, safety must, without doubt, be your primary focus.
The success or failure of your trips or activities will be determined by factors like the following:
1. How you handle your customers.
2. How you customise your trips to their needs.
3. How you treat them on the trip.
4. The kind of escorts you take along.
5. The food you offer.
6. The accommodation you offer.
7. Your reaction to emergencies.
8. Your overall planning of the trip.
9. Ensuring a smooth itinerary.
10. Your ability to make meaningful suggestions to travel plans.
11. Your knowledge about various aspects about a given location.
These skills can be developed by actually having travelled to locations, studying the locations, expecting and ensuring high standards from partners and suppliers, using planning, customer service, management and organising skills from travel or related work experience.
There are numerous travel and tourism courses that you can do, but very little of that knowledge will be of use in the adventure travel business. Mountaineering institutes at Darjeeling, Manali and Uttarkashi do offer formal training in mountaineering, rock climbing, camping, trekking, organising expeditions, etc.
Ideally, the company should have a balance of soft skills and technical skills (in one or multiple adventure sports). The best way to actually pick up these skills is sheer hands-on experience.
An insider tip
Regardless of your experience in the field, marketing skills, funding abilities or passion for travel, one aspect of this business is certain: It is unlikely you will become a millionaire off it in the near future. Unless you have a revolutionary business model, no Lexus, stock options, swanky apartment, fancy office in this niche industry.
Will you have fun? Yes. Will you travel a lot? Yes. Meet cool people along the way? For sure. Will it be the bestest job you will ever have? Heck, yes!
Amit Thaker owns the adventure travel firm, Travel Bug. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Illustration: Dominic Xavier