Mumbai based Veena World entered the tourism market nearly one and a half year ago and has grown exceptionally with its range of specialty tours such as the Senior Citizens Tours and Honeymoon and Jubilee Special Tours. Founder and Director, Sunila Patil, elaborates about the specialties and innovations.
Q : How exactly has travel business been this holiday season for outbound travel? How much does it form a part of your total revenue?
Outbound travel business has been good this holiday season though the numbers were affected by the elections. About 40 per cent of the total revenue generated came from outbound travel.
Q : What kind of growth do you anticipate in the travel and hospitality industry? How have the growth rates been so far?
With Indian tourism ministry’s Incredible India’ campaign, the travel and hospitality industry has experienced a good boom in the last 10 years. People have become more aware and are keen to explore Indian and world destinations alike. The growing middle and higher middle class, good economy and increased buying power of our substantial population will see many more people travelling in the coming years- both first time travellers and repeat travellers.
Moreover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent decision to offer on-arrival visa for approximately 180 countries is a very positive step that promises higher tourism growth rate in the years to come. The growth rates for number of people travelling will hopefully increase every year unless there are any major disruptions.
Q : How is Veena World different from the existing players in the market? What is the kind of competition that you are facing?
Innovative ideas play a major role in defining Veena World. We offer all modes of holidays to our guests. Our expertise is in escorted group tours led by our very professional, friendly and caring tour managers. Our segmented approach has made us specialists to cater to all target groups across all ages and budgets. Our various specialty tours viz. Women’s Special, Seniors Special, Students’ Special and Honeymoon & Jubilee Special tours set us apart from the existing players in the market. We offer all our services with a personal touch and strive for customer satisfaction to a very high degree through our group tours or our Signature Holidays (FIT segment). Our USP is the range of products that we have to suit every family and everyone in the family. However, the prices can be an issue where we face competition from other players in the industry. After starting operations on June 18, 2013, we could achieve a number of 48,000 guests travelling with us in one year, eight offices across Mumbai, Pune and Thane and an agent network of 110 preferred sales partners that has been possible only because of our dedicated team and the goodwill of all our esteemed guests.
Q : What is your core business at present? What are the plans for expanding this core segment? What are the innovative measures that one can expect to see in this space in the times to come?
Our core business is leisure travel in domestic and outbound segments through our Fixed Group Departures and signature holidays across all 7 continents. We expect a natural growth in this segment. This will be our second year in operation as Veena World. Innovative marketing through traditional and new routes, an excellent mix of products (holidays) to choose from, wide variety of choices for our guests from the budgeted to the luxury tours, more departures per tour next year and the goodwill and mouth to mouth publicity should help us increase our numbers. This year we launched a new concept called as Jubilee special tours that is targeted at couples who have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. The feedback to this concept has been amazing and now we have already started receiving booking for this tour for next year as well. We will offer more such innovative tours and offer more destinations on our specialty tours in the coming years.
Q : For how long has Veena World been promoting outbound tourism, particularly Europe?
We have been promoting outbound tourism, including Europe since the inception of Veena World , i.e., June 2013. Europe tours are important and form large section of the products we offer. Our management and team have an experience of more than 20 years in conducting Europe tours.
Q : What kind of volumes you do currently?
Within last 1.5 years, since the inception of the company, more than 60,000 guests travelled with us around the world.
Q : Which were the initial destinations and circuits that you launched? And how have they evolved over time?
With our experience to fall back on, we started with all possible destinations and we launched all destinations across India and world when we started Veena World. Since most of the inventory was taken up when we started, we launched fewer departures but due to the overwhelming response of the guests we had to launch additional departures that was three times of what we had planned.
This year we offered over 40 different Europe tour options itself. In the outbound segment we offer single country, two or three country or multi country tours all across the world. Our guests enjoyed a variety of tours from The Midnight sun cruise in Scandinavia to senior citizens tour in Europe to family tours to Phuket and Krabi in Thailand.
Q : What is the difference between the earlier Indian tourists and those of today?
Travellers today are definitely more informed and aware of the destinations and tourism in general. Earlier tourists had limited options and most choices were based on budget only. The focus on domestic tours to nearby places was more. However, with global boom in the economic, information and ultimately tourist sectors, Indian tourists are travelling more frequently within India and around the world. They are very well-versed with the upcoming tourism trends and more updated. The travellers look at more experiential travel, are open to new destinations and suggestions and even to tasting local food abroad. Repeat travel to destinations is also on the rise. In the fit segment, adventure and luxury travel has grown. Travelling is slowing turning into a basic necessity than a mere hobby.
Q : What are the principal factors behind this evolution from your experience?
A good economy, information readily available at fingertips; increased exposure to the world; travel, food and lifestyle shows on television have all been instrumental in the growth of travellers.
Q : How proactive is the organisation in promoting novelties in the itineraries?
Veena World firmly believes in incorporating new destinations/sightseeing places in the itineraries and keeping abreast with the travel trends. We take into consideration the suggestions of our tour managers, guests and travel experts and incorporate the same while drawing itineraries. For us innovation is a necessity.
Q : Which destinations/players are most dynamic and proactive and have the potential to pick up?
Accessibility, ease of visa procedures and a dynamic tourism board are instrumental in destinations’ ability to pick up. Oman is one such destination that has the potential to pick up. Its natural beauty, varied experiences and proximity to home is a sure winner. Scandinavia and Central Europe will see more traffic from Indian tourists in the coming years. The easing of US visa procedures has led to an increasing interest in US leisure travel and not just VFR. Singapore is one of the most dynamic destinations and is seeing a lot of repeat travel.
Q : How do you see the expansion and evolution of Veena World in the outbound tourism in the next five years?
Veena world has been innovative in launching different tours across all target segments. This will continue to grow and the exotic destinations will become more and more mainstream in the next 5 years. For instance, we hope to grow our numbers to destinations like Alsaka, Antarctica, Trans-Siberian Journey and Iceland. Our goal will be that we will have a tour or a holiday to any place the tourist thinks of. We will definitely have a stronger presence across India and will focus on expanding our franchise and agency network to ensure a wider reach. We have just launched our online booking platform and look forward to offering our tours and holidays on the online network in coming years to tourists across the world.