6 Challenges Tour Operators Face & How To Overcome Them; Amaze Tours Reveals
At the age 26, Leroy D’mello decided to seek something bigger than the average dream and quit his job as a chef on a cruise liner- The Royal Caribbean- and started Amaze Tours. His business was based on the food tour concept he had once seen in Miami, USA.
3 years since then Amaze Tours is a growing business, with next to no competition in Vasai, a suburb of Mumbai. The journey was not an easy one. Here’s how Leroy uncovered his mantras for success as a tour operator.
VL: What were the first steps you took to start Amaze Tours?
Leroy: I started by making a website through GoDaddy but soon realised there was a gap- I wasn’t getting bookings. In fact, why would people want to trust me, right?
While researching what other food tour operators in Mumbai were doing, I realised a booking engine and TripAdvisor listing were essentials for online bookings. So, I did that. But, for almost 3 months, I had no bookings at all! I was on the verge of quitting this business and getting a regular job.
Then, something amazing happened – I got my first booking online- for Rs.17,000!
“That was a defining moment for Amaze Tours- I had enough to keep me survive for another month.”
VL: What pushes you to continue doing what you do?
Leroy: Meeting people and making connections!
The best experience for me was meeting David Jesus, the first ever Executive Michelin-star chef in Lisbon, Portugal- who’s originally a Goan. He came to know of my tours through Cheryl Cook a blog writer. The contacts you make and the people you meet are the things that really matter to me.
VL: What’s your secret to creating a best-seller tour?
Leroy: We started off with food tours in Mumbai. We have now added other kind of walking tours and city sightseeing tours. The trips people really love are the early morning tours to temples and bazaars. Our Dharavi tours are also real people pleasers.
The food tours are designed to keep the flavours balanced. We start with light flavours, progress into stronger ones, and end with mellow flavours.
Also, we take customers to places we’ve tried out ourselves. Accordingly, we can meet customer preferences for spicy food, or comfort with street food stalls and so on.
VL: What’s the next step for Amaze Tours?
Leroy: We had 2000+ customers in 2017. We got here by providing high-quality tours. So while the target is to double this number, it will never come at the cost of quality. We don’t hire new staff for every city we expand into. We partner with tour experts in those locations.
Launching a new service-
Go Amaze is a new service aimed at the Indian traveller. It offers curated adventure activities at the best possible price. Trends show that Indians are the youngest travellers in the world. The millennial population in India (400 million) enjoy adventure but are also very price conscious. We eventually plan on becoming the one-stop-shop for travel enthusiasts.
Go Amaze, is a marketplace for one day adventure tours/ tourism activities. This way, Indian clients can access them based on their tastes and preferences.
VL: How is Vacation Labs supporting your expansion plans?
- Vacation Labs makes everything so easy for a new venture like Go Amaze. We didn’t have to worry about:
- Getting a website designer- we just picked a premium travel website theme
- Customer preference research is already done by them
- Coding, integrating with Viator, Tripadvisor, etc: the package comes ready to deploy
- Syncing inventory allotted to partners
2. With Vacation Lab, we saw an immediate jump in revenue- 10% in the first month.
3. With Vacation Labs we continue to receive advance bookings. We received bookings for January and May 2018 mid-2017 last year itself.
VL: What’s your advice to aspiring tour operators?
Leroy: Persistence and focus on quality can get you the success you’re aiming for. When there is no motivation and no money, it’s easy to quit. But, you need to find what drives your passion and pursue it.
Next, rather than you doing everything, let the people who know the best deal with their area of expertise, like with help his business perspective, Lawson, my business partner built our business framework and handles our administration and administration too. With help from Vacation Labs, our technology needs were settled. All I had to do is focus on what I do best, which is tours!