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Innovative marketing for Deccan Odyssey

Source: PTI
February 06, 2004 08:49 IST
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Marriage and honeymoon on a running train, resplendent with five-star luxuries, meandering through scenic locations on a journey through a kaleidoscopic land of fantastic and diverse images.

Or executives of a multinational company fine-tuning company's strategy in the spacious conference hall of this majestic train possessing internet and fax facilities, blending work with leisure.

These are some of the innovative marketing strategies being adopted by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation to aggressively promote the Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) worth prestigious Deccan Odyssey luxury train.

The 21-coach sleek blue train with classy gold stripes is a joint venture of Indian Railways and MTDC to promote tourism in Maharashtra.

"We are making an attempt to target Indian tourists to this train through some imaginative marketing plans", V Chavan, the MTDC's project officer, on board the luxury train, which concluded its maiden seven day run through pristine beaches, defiant forts and from stories carved in black monolithic rock, on Thursday.

Chavan admitted that there are substantial bookings by foreign tourists for the train this year so far.

However, by 2005 onwards there will be 100 per cent occupancy on the train, the senior MTDC official said adding, that the corporation was inundated with queries from tourists from Europe and other foreign countries.

The senior MTDC officials said the train is being promoted at travel fair mart at London and similar exhibitions in Germany.

The Deccan Odyssey is on par with the Blue Train of South Africa and the Orient Express of Europe and travels through Konkan, Goa, Maharashtra's cultural capital Pune, Ajantha and Ellora Caves in Aurangabad and famous wineries in Nashik.

The five-star hotel on rails, completed its first seven-day journey yesterday with a select group of journalists and tour operators.

And undoubtedly everybody on board including MTDC and railways officials are hopeful that the train would turn successful.

"It is a wonderful train and Maharashtra has much to offer to foreign tourists and I hope this train will do well", Heidi Bernsdorff, a German journalist, who was part of the media entourage, said.

However, she insisted that that tour should exclude forts from its itinerary. "Do not make journey stressful for tourists", Heidi said.

The train would leave Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus every Wednesday evening and return to its home base next Wednesday morning.

The train would have two stops along the Konkan coast, allowing tourists to discover the backwaters of Maharashtra and the golden beaches of Ganpatipule and Tarkarli Beach Resort and visit some famous sea forts of Maharashtra, including the spectacular Sindhudurg Fort.

The majestic train boasts of 13 passenger saloons with an accommodation capacity of 96 guests. The fully-air conditioned 21-coach train is also equipped with gymnasium, a beauty parlour, an ayurvedic massage centre, two restaurants, a bar, and a conference room with five-star facilities, besides attached baths and toilets.

Priced at $350 per head for a seven-day package, the train would offer tourists a glimpse of the cultural beauty of Maharashtra, MTDC sources said.

As tourists enjoy the beauty of temples, forts, sandy beaches, wining and dining amidst the luxurious comforts of the odyssey, the MTDC would ensure a royal spread of continental and Indian food.

"We have also offered special package to those wishing to occupy a room alone at a price of $485 and suite for $750", according to MTDC officials.

"We are also looking into offering short packages of three days during off-season period. However, the plan was yet to be finalised", they said.

The cuisine on the rail and the entire housekeeping is being looked after by the taj group, railway sources said.

Pointing out to the decor of the train, which boasts of rich authentic motif work, intricate wood work and panel paintings of famous peshwas, they said the entire decor has been designed by Pendse Associates, an architect group, which has conducted extensive research on the Maratha period.

"Even our coaches have been named after forts and places, including Daulatabad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri."

The train built at whopping cost of Rs 32 crore (Rs 320 million) is expected to recover the amount by the end of three years.

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