The biggest problem most travel agents face is shrinking margins. The commission on airline tickets has already reduced from nine per cent to five per cent and airlines want to bring it down to zero per cent. How can travel agencies tackle this?
The solution is to sell more products in the market: from travel insurance to foreign exchange to cruises. Don't just sell package tours: be innovative and sell destinations for weddings. Do corporate incentive trips and specialise.
Has the concept of travel changed in India?
Yes, I think concepts are changing. Before people would go on package tours in a group but now I am seeing more individual travel like adventure travel and heritage travel because the market has matured.
Could you comment in future travel trends?
Many companies now are offering community-based holidays like travelling with Jains and Gujaratis, but this might change in the future as the younger generation might not want that. I personally think the people promoting group tours will face problems in the future. They will need to look at freedom travel like just booking hotels and airline tickets and specialised travel.
What is the high-end traveller demanding?
The high-end premium traveller wants tailor-made trips with chauffeur driven cars in Europe. In fact, this travel segment is on the rise. Holidays like this offer higher margins. People now are demanding tailor-made itineraries and if someone is just buying tickets you need to tempt them to buy other products.
What advise do you have for a travel entrepreneur who is starting off?
Your company might need to keep diversifying to keep up with changing trends. People are also short of time. Earlier they wanted to pack in as many countries as possible whereas now they want one destination and to take up some activity there.