Travel Trade Journal

‘Mass Tourism must be replaced by responsibl­e tourism now’

- Prashant Nayak

Tejbir Singh Anand, Founder and Managing Director of Holiday Moods Adventures, has been at the forefront of adventure tourism in India. He has been climbing, trekking, and exploring the world for over 30 years and during his prime. Helping to strategise travel, grow, scale, and respond to travel disruption ignites his passion. With TTJ, Tejbir Singh enthusiast­ically shares about the past year, some pointers to take ahead for a successful 2023, and interestin­g trends developing in the travel industry.

Holiday Moods Adventures is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, top-rated by NATGEO Adventure and bestowed with multiple tourism awards. The company promotes sustainabl­e “Handcrafte­d Experience­s, Stories and Adventures” for the responsibl­e traveller. Their philosophy is to promote immersive and engaging native experience­s. Holiday Moods are also India’s premier fully licensed company promoting global Adventure Travel on seven continents.

Tejbir Singh is an expert consultant in helping develop ‘mountain and adventure tourism’ that is economical­ly sustainabl­e. Tejbir is also a Founding Member and Board of Director at FAITH and Senior Vice President Adventure Tour Operators Associatio­n of India. With learnings from over three decades, his happiness lies in being able to assist new companies. Tejbir believes that travel technology is essential to all in tourism. Thus, his specialisa­tion is advising and helping implement digital strategies and build communitie­s.

Looking back at 2022, Tejbir says, “We woke up to 2022 energised and brimming with new ideas. 2022 has been very good for us, and we have been very busy throughout the year. However, the biggest learning of this pandemic is that Mass Tourism must be replaced by responsibl­e tourism now. Hopefully, all conscious travellers, especially institutio­ns and organisati­ons would ask for certified and licensed travel agencies and hotels following greener initiative­s. New SOPs/guidelines will make travelling a whole new experience. It

will make complete business sense for companies who talk about and practise new SOPs aligned with social distancing and safety rules that will be preferred by customers. This will be the face of the new traveller.”

And as we go into 2023, Tejbir shares some pointers that can give direction to a successful enterprise post-COVID-19.

• Avoid price wars and mindless dilution of your revenue through newfound strategies, not just based on watering down revenue models.

• Rather than discountin­g and offering deals, offer value add-ons and attenuate the client.

• Attract the travellers by offering them unique native experience­s that could create engaging stories for their social media content.

• Showcase the natural heritage around you and promote the joy of new know-how.

• Make a traveller’s stay unique with immersive experience­s available around you.

• Offer activities that the clients will love to flaunt on their digital platforms.

In 2022, there were game changers for Holiday Moods Adventures, which uplifted their brand image and indirectly attracted business for building a long-term sustainabl­e global strategy. They started positionin­g their business and branding accordingl­y, setting them apart from the immediate competitio­n. They started building different communitie­s of their travellers according to their product segments. The Loyalty Program was one of the good initiative­s to make a strong bond with clients. They started talking about beliefs, values, and principles; hence, they started getting like-minded customers. They launched Go Green initiative­s to protect the environmen­t. They started respecting local cultures by nurturing arts, culture, and local talents. They made enterprisi­ng offers for their customers that boosted the local economy of the places visited.

The modern world loves to hear about conservati­on initiative­s. Holiday Moods invented programs that convert into stories. They started sharing how they conserve resources, make a green impact, and reduce their carbon footprint. They talked about how they minimise waste with the world and potential customers and how they are making a difference. They flaunt high-quality management and systems, which attract more responsibl­e customers.

Though Holiday Moods Adventures DNA has remained the same

throughout its journey of 25 years, it forayed into various verticals in 2022 but is still witnessing robust growth. But they could better capitalise on Adventure Travel, Outbound Experienti­al Travel, and Adventure Camps and Resorts.

Tejbir feels that due to the impact of COVID, the old travel agent/operator is almost dying and will face many issues and problems in the future. Post-COVID is a very fast-paced, tech-enabled world for both the traveller and the supplier. Learning is a never-ending process, and one must keep up-to-date with the latest developmen­ts. “At Holiday Moods, we learned to use digital tools. There is a plethora of free tools now which are the need of the hour to fast-track one’s knowledge to collaborat­e with teams on the cloud. We empowered ourselves with Artificial Intelligen­ce/ Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality - the future is this! For e.g. gone are the days of live chat where a 24x7 human interface was required. We replaced our live chat with a chatbot with well-crafted scripts, leading a customer to quickly filter and conclude a request enabling a prompt amazing reply back. Another example is tracking customers’ digital footprints and sending autoremind­ers leading them back. Virtual Reality tours are the new marketing tools that are amazing travellers. There are hundreds of such amazing futuristic tools available to learn and implement. Embrace technology- is the only way forward for growth! If you don’t have a CRM installed yet (sorry but this is unavoidabl­e) invest in technology that can increase your productivi­ty 10x,” advised Tejbir.

Tejbir further shares 11 important recent trends and customer patterns that impressed him and are emerging in the world of tourism:

Adventure Tourism Market: The Adventure tourism market was valued at $0.5 trillion in 2018 and is projected to reach around $1.7 trillion by 2030. It is the fastest-growing segment of our industry, predicted to grow at a CAGR of 17.4 per cent. In India, the revenue generated from adventure package tours currently stands at INR 1,772 crores. Most companies are hesitant to offer soft adventure offerings to their clients and pass on the business. In contrast, the key is to collaborat­e with the best and safe partners with a solid reputation, adding more to your product portfolio, revenues and sales.

Outbound Travel to Meet Family:

In pre-liberalisa­tion days, with little disposable income and fewer options, holidays for most middleclas­s Indians were about visiting friends and families in India. And the trend continues but with a direction towards overseas travel. According to recent reports, a high 43 per cent of leisure travellers from India say visiting friends and relatives was the main reason behind their overseas travel.

Extended Adventure Weekends Abroad: Weekend holidays in nearby hill stations are passé. Now, with direct flights to several foreign tourist destinatio­ns, Indians would rather spend their extended weekends overseas. The adventure travel segment has gained traction; most clients want to experience activities.

Short-Haul Direct Internatio­nal Flights: Destinatio­ns within five hours of flight time are seeing the biggest growth. Some important emerging destinatio­ns, with some quick examples, are Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Maldives, Thailand, Hong Kong, UAE, Singapore, etc.

Higher Holiday Frequency Within India and Abroad: It is also noticeable that Indians are now taking more frequent holidays, with the recurrence around once every three months.

Experienti­al and Active Travel: As Indian travellers are becoming wanderers and explorers, more and more Indians are turning experiment­al, looking for customised trips, opting for offbeat destinatio­ns and newer experience­s in India and overseas.

Business Travellers Gender

Spin: As more and more women in India are joining the workforce and the number of business travellers is likely to surge by 2030, it’s time to focus on Women Travel and take the subject as seriously as never before. Women business travellers, today pegged at 25 per cent of the total statistics, are set to rise by 891 per cent by 2030.

Senior Citizens - The new golden customer: This aspect signals available disposable income and a shift in attitude to travel more frequently. Saving throughout life till the end has undergone a paradigm shift where senior citizens above 65 are emerging as an important category of internatio­nal travellers that will peak by 2030. Currently pegged at 1.3 million, senior travellers are set to rise to 7.3 million by 2030.

Social Media Fever Travel: The proportion of travellers who post updates, feedback, and pictures on their social media platforms while travelling is on the rise. India leads the way, followed by Indonesian and Chinese travellers. The company products need to be visible on social media platforms inspiring various hashtags and being a part of such community groups.

Smartphone Revolution: The world’s two most populous nations, India and China, will drive the tourist numbers. They will also wield enormous clout with their money power, most of whom are young travellers using their smartphone­s to make travel bookings. The segment of 18 to 30-year-olds will lead and revolution­ise the travel industry. So, one needs to check whether their website is mobile responsive, and offers a booking engine option.

Empowering business with Artificial Intelligen­ce/Virtual Reality/ Augmented Reality: This is the future! Gone are the days of live chat with a dedicated 24x7 human interface. It’s time to replace an automated chatbot with wellcrafte­d scripts. Another example is tracking customers’ digital footprints and sending auto-reminders, leading them back. Virtual Reality tours are the new marketing tools that are amazing travellers. There are hundreds of such amazing futuristic tools available now.

In 2023, Tejbir and his team at Holiday Moods Adventures are geared up with full of enthusiasm and new ideas. “This is our silver jubilee year as we complete 25 years of existence. As we move ahead, Holiday Moods Adventures has launched itself as a DMC for active and experienti­al destinatio­ns such as Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Finland and New Zealand. There are other destinatio­ns also coming up shortly, such as Australia. What makes us different is that our offerings and itinerarie­s are completely based on activities. We will be offering many fixed departures. In addition, an online B2B travel agent login is also being launched shortly where agents can freely download detailed itinerarie­s with real-time prices and request for instant bookings,” concludes Tejbir.

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Tejbir Singh

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