In a time where decision-making is hard and options way too many, the story of this modern day travel company stands out with it’s interesting offerings and advice. It is rightly said that one attracts more customers only if there is variety in product offerings and is a provider of complete solutions and multiple add-ons. At Go Travellism there is something for everyone. With many options being offered, the new age traveller is likely to be less confused and arrive at a decision easily.
Saurabh Thakekar, one of the co-founders and directors of Go Travellism Pvt. Ltd. believes in offering the dicey travellers a complete holiday solution, packaging it on the basis of their likings, tastes and preferences. He says the clients are allowed to customize tours depending on the geography, location, budget and the kind of activity they are looking at.
Since the inception of Go Travellism in 2011, the travel company has gone on to take massive strides and changed the way in which travel is being looked at.
They began by setting-up Mumbai Travellers and went in for what Thakekar calls ‘horizontal expansion’ and soon add brands such as Book My Safari (wildlife experiences) and Corporate Compass (aimed at combining corporate activities and adventure).
With several other travel start-ups operating in the ever expanding and highly competitive ‘travel market’ and many more that will sprout up, Thakekar remains unfazed, focussing and constantly trying to improvise the offerings of his company.
When asked what prompted him to get into the travel business and how the fruition of the idea came about, he says:
There is a surge in demand for tailor-made packages and to begin with the Indian subcontinent is the best in terms of customisations. We had better visibility into the market and adventure destinations in India. Since customised wildlife safaris are a need of the hour we are looking at meeting growing demands for it and constantly looking to improvise services offered in the safari segment. Since the corporate crowd that would approach us wanted something offbeat, yet adventurous, we launched a company to cater only to the corporate crowd. We are dedicated towards providing wholesale holidays as well as family trips.
Along with two other founders and fellow travel enthusiasts- Nilesh Haldankar and Jogi Prajapati came about the formation of the company and their different experiences of travel only brought them together. However, Thakekar was the link between them as he would go for treks with Haldankar and bird-watching trails with Prajapati.
“These trips and treks that we undertook, were unplanned and disorganised. Without any aim, objective or information of the place we were headed to, we would set out to have a good time. Previously, the focus was on weekend excursions and getaways, now people love it with these trips becoming so streamlined and structured, demand has considerably risen for such short trips. Now, things have gotten much more organized unlike the earlier haphazard planning. Earlier trips were impromptu and based on instinct and intuition,” he adds.
One would wonder if they were confined only to Mumbai, but the 30-year-old Thakekar is quick to clarify:
Our focus was Mumbai since we belong to this city and the metropolis alone is like a different country. People have the spending power today and limited options to explore in the vicinity for thrill and adventure. This is why we forayed into other destinations across India and introduced adventurous and non-conventional holidays.
Popular online tour and activities booking and back office management software, Vacation Labs, has played a highly specific and key role in organising bookings for Mumbai Travellers. The well structured system helps the travel portal efficiently manage tours and activities sold online. Go Travellism is looking at using the same software for it’s other travel verticals too. It will benefit and successfully overcome challenges involved in booking tours due to the ‘organized assistance’ from Vacation Labs, eliminating manual booking. He says that after the booking website stepped in, it has allowed them to dedicate time, energies and collective efforts to enhance services for their three travel websites.
Thakekar believes that their success has come to a greater degree because of word of mouth, creating a sense of intrigue, adulation and excitement amongst vacationers or travellers.
Tourism exists, but travell-ism doesn’t. We wanted to do something non-conventional, but also saw how disorganised the scenario was. There weren’t many structured options, so that is when Vacation Labs played an important role and that took away our challenge of handling customer bookings and management of trips, allowing us to focus on developing our core areas and improvement of key functions. Booking was made to look easy.
Technological support indeed provides a boost to travel companies and takes care of backend systems’ management and data compilation. Technology also reduces or even eliminates any scope for error, which is a high possibility when handled manually.
Back in the day, we had our go-to travel agency that gave us a printed brochure of the place we intended to visit. One had to visit their office again, pay an advance amount and book their tours. No one knew how technology and easily available information could aid decision-making. Well, this is no longer the case. People are short on time and believe in what caters to the ‘new generation tourism’ provided by trusted players in the market.
While travel start-ups are successfully running operations and continue to deliver quality vacation experiences to travellers, most of them express a common concern about how unregulated, dangerous and alarming the security and safety aspects of travel can be.
With a largely shifting and experimental set of travellers moving towards newer travel options, Thakekar believes it was surely not that easy for them to build a steady base of vacationers and loyal customers.
The travel industry is currently witnessing a boom in terms of rising travellers, changing trends and demography, rising spending power amongst consumers and adaptability to try out diverse travel options.
Thakekar, himself an avid trekker, is expecting to witness the travel industry to go through major changes and trips riddled with innovations. He predicts a further upward spiral, given the demand in the rapidly changing travel landscape.
According to Thakekar, the future of travel business looks promising. The government should look at it in terms of providing a fillip to the employment in this sector. The market right now is suitable from their perspective as it allows them to make the most of opportunities aimed at introducing newer things and elements in our business. Travelling has become a cult and the horizon has widened.
Not only youngsters but even middle-aged or elderly people book their holidays with them. They have not been very choosy nor have they confined how and what our target audience is or will be. An 82-year-old lady is joining them on the Masai Mara (in Kenya) wildlife safari. We cater to children as young as 4-5 and also to families, he says with a sense of anticipation.
For Go Travellism, the safety of their patrons has always been the top priority. Since they were foraying into non-conventional travel options, they were worried and concerned initially. Besides gaining the trust of customers and assuring them of safety was a bit of a challenge. Once the brand name was established, clients started booking more with them and showed faith with regards to their travel plans.
With over 200 operators, the business is sure to be a cutthroat one. Not all providers are service-driven and in a market where the customers are highly price-sensitive, the Mumbai-based travel company has to bear the brunt of ‘value for money’ demand by travellers.
Any person or groups of individuals set up shop and commence with operations, lacking a proper set-up (and are unable to uphold safety and security standards) enter the business. Since these entities have almost zero expenditure, they are able to provide services at fixed costs. This explains why new age start-ups complain about not being able to meet the value for money claim. Today, anyone can and is able to get into the travel business.
With a total team strength of just 14 like-minded and passionate (about travel) people, it is no mean feat to man 3 in-demand travel websites. But, in spite of a small team, one of the businesses, bookmysafari.com, has managed to win India’s Most Preferred Travel And Tourism Award.
Key factors such as marketing, market research and product development define this popular travel company. In an industry where a lot of outsourcing is not done, automated technological processes help you keep pace with the activities and demands of a modern day traveller. Technology reduces lengthy processes.
When we started out, that time our reach was high and forayed through Facebook groups and focussed on community building (and generating common interests in travel). This kind of targeting helped us in acquiring mass crowd in a limited time span. So much so that even our office operations run on whatsapp. Pre and post departures became convenient for us to communicate via broadcast message.
Retention being the key, he attributes rising sales directly to the efficiency Vacation Labs delivers. Thakekar believes that it gives them multiple touch points and allows instant bookings (book now feature enabled) and a highly accurate trend(s) and data segregation statistics based on customers’ suggestions. To take the customer retention process further, the company offers up a lifetime membership program to customers. Using the Vacation Labs backend management software, Thakekar and his team can identify repeat customers and ensure they receive the best discounts and offers on their next bookings.
A revolution is happening for sure and we are working on a software to make travel easier, simpler and convenient.
Now it’s not only about the ‘view’, because activities matter. Engagement, experience and activity must be of larger significance for any company in the travel business.
Sightseeing, transportation, accommodation, food and the fifth pillar- ‘activities’ being offered matters the most to customers.
In these times of cut-throat competition, quality is bound to take a hit as brand and price wars hardly allow companies to focus on offerings and the surging national demands of their clients. But Thakekar feels that they have been able to manage not only pricing points but also improve and add things that would enhance the entire experience of travelling.
We created different brands to gain expertise in niche verticals and offer specialised products based on objectives that are entirely different from each other. We initially began catering to a community of travellers in Mumbai, but with time expanded our geography and introduced options based on what the market wanted.
The ‘offbeat’ section on the Mumbai Travellers website offers some of the most interesting options, adding new dimensions of travel and adding a new dash of adventure to your trip. The offbeat section encompasses- Meghalaya in monsoon, Aranmula (Kerala) boat race, Spiti Valley trip, the Old Silk Route-Sikkim tour to name a few, amongst many.
Among the wildlife safaris, trips to Masai Mara, Tadoba, Gir, Bera, Pench, Ranthambhore, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Jim Corbett, Kabini and Kaziranga National Park are go to places for wildlife enthusiasts to connect with nature and get a feel of the forest terrain, which is home to several animals is truly an enthralling experience that leaves you high on natural, beauty, a much-needed break far, far away from the daily hustle in the concrete, urban jungles.
Go Travellism focuses on industry trends to stay in vogues with travellers. But, its dedication to safety and inclusion of technology help the travel business secure its place as one of best in the business.