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Personalised travel planning at no extra cost

Sonal D'Silva | February 08, 2006

If you thought a 'personalised' holiday meant being herded through 14 countries in 15 days, it's time to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Gone are the days when a tour operator defined your travel itinerary and you had no choice but to settle for the limited holiday package offered to you.

As leisure travel increasingly becomes a priority for the Indian traveller, the options on offer are also becoming more attractive; 'personalised' is actually starting to mean what it should.

One such company specialising in personalised journey planning is Lifestyle Holidays, an initiative of Bulls and Bears Finance Limited Tour division.

Lifestyle Holidays is a 'travel' mall located in Mumbai's busy Churchgate area. It covers 4,000 square feet of space and aims to be your one-stop travel shop for all your travel needs.

We explored this new concept to find out the following:

~ What are the services on offer?

~ What can YOU do to maximise the benefits of a personalised holiday planner?

~ Is this personalised service going to cost you a bomb?

Here are the answers.

Services on offer

What exactly does a personalised holiday planner do?

In-depth information on travel destinations

In LH, for example, various destinations, regions and travel products are showcased under one roof. The holidays are marketed in a retail format ie the place resembles a shop or mall, where you go and see what is on offer before deciding what to buy.

LH is sectioned into destination-specific areas. For example, you can discuss your French holiday options with staff members trained to provide specific information; the area of the mall in which you can do this is dominated by an Eiffel Tower mural and other French icons.

Maximise your travel to a region

Thinking of going to Egypt?

Why not combine it with Greece and Turkey to make the most of your trip abroad?

The destinations that can be combined may not be obvious to the infrequent traveller, so it is helpful to have some assistance, especially if good deals are on offer.

Hotel bookings

Personalised holiday planners can help you book the hotel of your choice; since they work closely with international tourism promotion bodies and hotel chains, the options they provide are more informed and varied.

Forex and ticketing

Organisations like Lifestyle Holidays house a full-fledged forex (currency exchange) and ticketing counter on the premises, making the process of purchasing much more convenient and instant.

IATA accredited travel agents offer the best airfares for economy, business and first class travelers.

If you're really ready to go, LH also offers an in-house travel accessories shop where you can buy travel essentials like bags, tents, travel books, universal chargers, clocks and other travel accessories.

Travel according to your need/ budget

You know you don't just travel but you go on a trip with a mission.

Is it to lie on the beach all day doing nothing?

Or would you like to live out all your adventure fantasies and return thoroughly exhausted?

Companies offer services accordingly.

You can explore adventure tours, anniversary specials, family holidays, golf tours, honeymoon specials, Jain tours, luxury cruises, self-drive tours, sports tour for Formula 1, Cricket World Cup, etc and tailor-made tour packages.

The great news is that the options are NOT just restricted to luxury travel. Student packages and other deals make it possible for those on a shoestring budget to find a holiday they like!

Visa/ travel insurance

This can be the most troublesome part of booking a holiday, so it is best to be fully prepared. While you may still have to go get the visa yourself (varies depending on regulations of each region), the companies will help you streamline the preparation process.

Car rentals

Feel like going on a road trip on holiday? Make the booking at the right car rental before you leave.

The damages

The obvious question that comes to mind is: how much extra do I have to pay for this personalised service?

It turns out that there are no extra charges! Lifestyle Holidays specifies that you only pay as much as the holiday you desire costs.

There are NO additional consultation fees.

What YOU need to do

Personal journey planners will ensure you have the tailor-made holiday you requested.

However, it is better if you do some independent research before you avail of their services to make sure you know what you want.

Get online

Nikhil Dalal, director, Lifestyle Holidays, tells us the number one trigger of change in the Indian traveller's holiday patterns is the Internet.

He says, "Most people we encounter now do a fair amount of independent research on the Net. It is up to us to be even more thorough with the facts and information we offer them."

Explore the destinations you might be curious about. All of them have an online presence. Also worth checking out are visitor reviews of places, hotels and airlines.

All of this is just a Google search away!

Explore unconventional tourist activities for a region

A cursory glance at a travel guide will give you a predictable list of sights to visit for a country.

Dig a little deeper and find some of the less common places to visit in the region you're going to. It will make for a more unique experience and far less clichéd photographs.

The best way is to get online and do research or talk to travellers who may have visited unknown spots.

Ask questions
It is common to feel overwhelmed by all the information given to you by travel agents. If anything is not clear, ask about it immediately. It will help them understand your needs better as well.

Helpful web sites

So there you have it!

With some basic groundwork and personalised assistance, you never have to be at the mercy of an unimaginative tour operator eating bad Indian food in lush locales.

501 Arcadia
Nariman Point
Mumbai -- 400 021

Phones: (022) 5632465, 22854030


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