Madhav Pai explains how Thomas Cook India is Customizing there holiday trips according to the travelers needs.
There is nothing new about customised travel planning. After all, practically every travel service provider, online or otherwise, claims to offer it. The problem is that by and large, the word ‘customisation’ was taken to mean tweaking a template itinerary for a tick-in-the-box destination. If you want a tailor-made luxury escapade, chock-a-block with experiences ranging from yacht sailing or private island rentals to dining suspended 50 m above the ground, this is a great option.
However, over the past few years, the travel industry has been slowly moving towards facilitating a shopping cart experience for those planning a holiday. Part of the reason is that the customer base is becoming increasingly more demanding, having gained exposure from the Internet and lifestyle television channels. Also, as Madhav Pai, chief operating officer, leisure travel (outbound), Thomas Cook (India), puts it, “Word of mouth plays a significant role in the move to customised travel since the ‘brag factor’ on unique experiences is powerful.”
With the OTAs storming the last bastion of the brick-and-mortar set-ups–customised travel planning–the latter have been forced to innovate and roll out increasingly personalised initiatives themselves.
Thomas Cook India, for instance, has recently launched ’48H Holidays’, which lets you take off on a foreign vacation on just two days’ notice. All you need to do is choose from the bouquet of 15 countries, which are either visa-on-arrival destinations or involve minimal visa requirements, and leave the rest of the travel planning to the company.
The destinations that are on Thomas Cook India’s list include Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, Mauritius, Maldives, Cyprus, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Macau, Jordan, Seychelles, Ecuador, Kenya, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
Madhav Pai says “The extensive public holidays in the country offer great opportunities for holiday travels. We were keen on leveraging this potential with affordable offers, even for last-minute planners, which is why we launched 48H Holidays.”
Apart from tapping the growing number of Indians keen on taking shorter, multiple holidays, instead of one long summer vacation trip, this initiative will appeal to India’s corporate and SME segment. The latter shows high potential for a leisure break, say, with a spouse, intertwined with corporate travel.
“Given the rather quick turnaround of overseas business meetings, our 48H Holidays is a product that comes in handy,” adds Madhav Pai.
No matter what spin the industry puts on the word customisation, the consensus is that Indian travellers today want to be in control of their holiday planning, and all these websites are empowering them.
In a similar vein, Madhav Pai sees the traditional off-the-shelf holiday package no longer cutting ice with the India traveller, a whole lot more confident and discerning than his parents.
“The first-time traveller may require the handholding and comfort of a packaged, escorted tour, but with exposure and experience comes confidence to charter your own course. So the shift to personalised travel is a natural corollary and we expect a percolation of the customisation trend to the tier 2 and 3 regional markets in the next three years,” Madhav Pai adds.