Company Name – Holidaybookie Pvt Ltd.
Featuring Person Name & Designation – Bhavik Shah, Founder/Director
Headquarters – Pune
Please brief our audience about your company, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in the travel management space.
Our roots started as a ticketing agency, and we did well. This was a stepping stone to expand our services and offer travelers our immense knowledge in this space. Our expanded services included end-to-end travel planning for travelers of all types catering to domestic and international locations.
As one of the leading agencies that offer group tours, customized holidays, and tours and travel planning for corporates - our main USP is that we ensure travel plans are completely customized as per the traveler’s needs, preferences and budgets.
With a strong network across India with hotels as partners and connections built with local tourist spots, we have a stronghold on the best deals that only a local would know! A robust network of vendors in domestic and international horizons gives us the stability to deliver value in each vacation or tour planned.
What other products/solutions does your company offer, and how are these making an impact on the travel management space?
Our focus is a great customer experience throughout, hence we assign a dedicated point of contact to our travelers who are with them from the selection of the hotels to planning itinerary and who can be called anytime for any help during the travel.
Everything is planned, implemented, and controlled by one person hence building comfort, a sense of security, and trust for the traveler.
Brief us about the featured person(s), their journey in the travel management space, and how they have contributed to the company’s success.
I started a ticketing agency out of my passion for travel and exploration. I always wanted to make travel accessible, affordable, and seamless for everyone who has the thirst for adventure. Some of our clients have been with us for around a decade now and that speaks a lot about the quality and transparent services we have offered to our travelers.
With my own professional network and interacting with business owners, I understood the preferences of business travelers and I added that as a key service to Holiday Bookie.
Our premium services to the corporates, and being available in real-time for travel assistance made us a preferred travel partner to some big names in Pune and Mumbai like HDFC, Ernst and Young, Glen Appliances, Bramhacorp, Bank of Maharashtra, and many more such names.
We have a dedicated team that helps corporates with their MICE needs (Meeting Incentive Conference and Exhibitions) as this needs to be economical always, yet comfortable with all checks in place.
Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on what impact the adoption of modern technologies such as AI had on the travel management niche and what more could be expected in the future?
The adoption of AI has surpassed the human level of capturing information, noting preferences, and generating business. The field that we are in is one of the oldest industries though AI has made it a quality one.
Hotels in many countries are beginning to use robots (RAISA) in a variety of ways including chatbots, delivery robots, robot concierges, conveyor restaurants, and self-service information and check-in kiosks. There is however a gap or limited research in the field of tourism which is being filled by human manpower. I believe that AI could be the next best thing in the tourism industry.
Having said the above, while AI caters to the diverse demands of travelers, it raises privacy concerns, and that needs to be taken care of well.
Taking into consideration the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face and how did you drive your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
It's a no-brainer that one of the industries that took a hit due to the pandemic was the travel industry. And the lockdowns closed the entire set of operations in the travel and tourism business. A coordinated effort was needed to restore and rehabilitate tourist attractions in the wake of the disaster, which affected the whole tourism ecosystem.
In addition to general economic stimulus packages, several governments have implemented tourism-specific policies to help firms and employees in the industry. It was a huge relief to receive support from the government.
All indications suggest that travel is returning with renewed vigor, as people seek to reconnect, discover new places, or revisit old favorites as the COVID-19 epidemic fades. People just want to get out of their homes to explore.
In our industry, a travel company's reputation may be tarnished if even a single point of friction in the client experience cannot be successfully addressed. It is imperative that the industry ensures that the reopening process goes well and that enough assistance is given to travelers in order for them to adjust to new modes of transportation. The personalized touch of each tour matters a lot as people open up to the idea of traveling again.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the travel management space?
I firmly believe that ethical business is important and matters a lot to building trust and credibility with customers. Clients don’t go back to the same travel organizations if they’ve had a bad experience once, so a thin string!
Above all, it is important to keep transparency with your clients to build a loyal customer base. Your business will suffer if you do not follow through with your promises made to the clients with regard to both - experience and payment.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?
My focus in the next 5 years is to get listed as a public limited company. We want to become the flagship of personalized vacations, travel, and tours. We aim to adapt to new norms and bring in technologies that will help the business in the long run and achieve a higher ROI. Thinking big with our personalized travel plans and creating a more genuine relationship with our clients is the way forward. I believe it is important to keep the clients happy in the tourism industry to keep them coming back to you. I want to be the flag bearer of trust and credibility in travel and tourism. Basically, what Apple is to smartphones, HolidayBookey will be in travel and tourism.
Please brief us on ‘Techniques that increase productivity for travel managers.’ (Please answer this question in about 200-300 words apart from the word limit mentioned above. Your views on this question will be portrayed in a separate editorial article within this edition) Please feel free to add or highlight any other interesting insights that we might have missed out on in our questionnaire.
As a travel manager, you are responsible for all aspects of the travel strategy. Cost, processes, and preferences are always evolving. It is imperative that your rules and standards keep pace with industry developments and technological advances. It's also important to take into consideration fluctuations in fuel costs, inflation, and other monetary changes.
I think it's fantastic to have a plan of action in place for any and all eventualities. However, you must be clear about the steps involved - keep in mind that you're working with folks who have their hands full. They want to know how to get the job done in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. Instructions should not contain a lot of ambiguous rules or steps. The more complicated your instructions for travel plans the more likely it is that your travelers will skim over them and come to you for help.
Track each trip's success and convert certain visits to video calls, if necessary. Take a look at how happy your travelers are when they're on the road. Keep track of unused tickets and promote their utilization during the booking process. All of these steps will guarantee an engaged and happy traveler..
Let the consumers know the benefits of personalized travels not just at the point of sale but throughout the process of registration, the start of the journey till the day their journey with you ends.