|Tuesday, 04 September 2012|
|FIVE MINUTES WITH HARISH SHROFF, INDUS TRAVELS|
Indus Travels recently launched its new online portal: indus.travel. Throughout its 12 year history, the tour operator has continued to evolve and expand its product offerings. Most recently, Indus Travels added women only tours, culinary tours and luxury tours to its product roster.
|Harish Shroff, business development manager, Indus Travels
TRAVELHotNews.com recently sat down with Harish Shroff, business development manager, Indus Travels, to get the scoop on the new website, new products and the tour operator’s methods for getting the word out to the travel agent community.
TRAVELHotNews.com: What are some of the recent projects that Indus Travels has initiated?
Harish Shroff: We have a very new website. We have changed the portal to indus.travel. Also, now there is an agent only section. Individual agents can access the agent section by registering and creating their own user id and password. From this agent only section, travel agents can now know our current promotions, upcoming FAM trips and the best feature is that they can upload their agency logo and contact details, and then download any itinerary from our website with their own branding which they can send to their clients.
We also have e-flyers that agents can send out to clients with their contact details right from the agent section on our website. They are actually sent from [the agent’s] email address to the client.
THN: What led to the decision to make the change to indus.travel?
HS: Indus has been in the industry for the last 12 years and we have been growing. We started with the Indian subcontinent: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives. But we’ve added so many products. We added the Middle East almost eight years ago. Two years ago we added Latin America. Those were destinations added on to the same website. This [new site] is much more professional. It has a new look. It has individual icons for each destination. It is very clean and very organized.
We have grown to the point where agents are calling us for all the different destinations. It had become very hard for the agents to see what was where. So the new site has made it easier for the agents. All of our destinations and products are available on this new website.
THN: Women Only Worldwide (WOW) has been gaining attention lately. How did that product come about?
HS: That is one of three major new products. The other is the culinary tours and the third is luxury tours.
Women Only Worldwide tours started two years ago when we had some groups coming to us for women only. That gave us the idea [for] destinations like Peru, Ecuador, Egypt, India and Turkey. [In those] destinations, women want someone to travel with them.
Women Only Worldwide tours include special inclusions keeping in mind women’s interest. For example, in Morocco, the women can actually share a day in the life of Berber women in an authentic setting. If they go to Peru, they will learn to make a local drink: Pisco sour. When they go to India they will learn how to wear a sari... and many more.
All WOW tours are lead by local women tour leaders and they also meet with a local woman who runs a successful enterprise [in the destination].
All of our groups are very small - average eight, with a maximum 16 ladies. All of our tour guides are professionally licensed within the country. The reason why we are keeping it small is that we want each and every client to experience it... They have more quality time.
THN: What are the details of the culinary tours?
HS: Indus Travels is an innovative tour operator and is consistently engaged in adding unique and exciting elements to our already exotic itineraries. In that vein, we are not only offering cuisine tours, but we are operating culinary expeditions led by famous Michelin Star Chefs. These tours deliver a once in a lifetime experience for our guests that can never be duplicated. We never repeat an itinerary although our Star Chefs travel with us over and over again.
We are proud to work with chefs with a passion for food and travel. Chefs who enjoy eating as much as they enjoy cooking and there is never a dull moment exploring the local markets, impromptu stops at roadside shacks or barging into a private kitchen of a local housewife drawn by mouth watering aromas of her cooking.
Our celebrity chefs add a new dimension to interaction with the locals with their individual charisma and love for food. They travel with us and become students of local culture, tradition, and of course, the regional cuisines. Each itinerary is so unique, some of our guests have travelled with us on every one of our culinary expedition since the last four years. What could be a better testimonial?
THN: What is Indus Travel doing to reach out to the travel agent community?
HS: [Indus] is running a lot of promotions to help the agents learn. We have an excellent commission structure for agents and our preferred agencies. We are fully devoted to making sure agents learn about our destinations and products. This year we’ve done something like 12 road shows... We are bringing in the tourism board to speak. It is someone who is from the destination or someone who has been to the destination that is speaking to the agents. We do regular agent webinars.
We’re also looking to train more agents because we’ve got more preferred suppliers than we had before... The list is growing. And all the agents are looking forward to getting trained and learning more about these destinations. We have generous budget for co-op advertising with agencies and are always available to help them in consumer presentations. I invite all agents who have not worked with us yet to try out our services and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.