Travel Agency – Going places

In recent years, travelling for work and for pleasure has become an integral part of our lifestyle. Unlike till a couple of decades ago, when travel would be mainly for religious purposes, today, people travel within and outside the country for business and to simply take  a break from routine.

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Image Courtesy- Google Images

A lot of nitty-gritty is involved in travelling including booking tickets for travel, arranging for stay, food and for local transport. There is a sizeable expense involved as well as uncertainty. If travel is not planned well, it could result in waste of money and inconvenience. The point is, there needs to be somebody with thorough knowledge and access to information to help the traveler in planning the travel.  This is where the business of travel agency emerges as a very useful resource.

You could think of starting a small set up with minimum capital, staff and space. Look for a space of about 200 sq. ft in an area convenient for customers. The approximate deposit may be Rs. 50000/- and a monthly rent of Rs. 10000/-.  A computer, printer and a laptop may be estimated at Rs. 80000/- and furniture at Rs. 30000/-. You will need to spend about Rs. 2000/- on registrations and licenses, plus Rs. 10000/- to print marketing material like brochures and leaflets. Taking into account salary to one employee, repairs and maintenance, phone and electricity, depreciation, EMI etc, broadly you can make a net income of about Rs. 35000/- per month.

It is necessary to be a member of the Enterprising Travel Agents Association. You may also register as an approved travel agent with the India Government through the Ministry of Tourism. Refer to this link to do so – http://blog.indiafidings.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/04/guidelines. It is also beneficial to be a member of the International Air Travel Association. Look up http://blog.indiafidings.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/04/guidelines for the same.

Travel agency is a highly customer centric service. Customer satisfaction is critical. You need to be very thorough while planning the itinerary for your client as the smallest mistake can cause very big inconvenience. For instance, you need to know the check in and check out time of hotels so that you client does not end up paying more unnecessarily. Consider the lay over time between two flights and make sure it is enough to go from one terminal to the other to change planes. Several such details and information must be at your finger tip to be able to give excellent service.

Competition is tough in this sector. Try offering your own specialized services like package

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Image Courtesy – Google Images

tours and customized tours. Design special packages for senior citizens, newly married couples etc. Offer group discounts and early bird discounts. You will have to invest some amount for advertising and publicity. Print brochures and leaflets and also use social media.

Always keep in touch with your old clients since they not only patronize you regularly but if they are happy with your service they become your human advertisement.

All in all travel agency business is highly dynamic, exciting and has limitless scope to grow. With DeAsra’s support you can go places with this enterprise. You can get in touch with deAsra team and your Udyogmitra on 020-65365300/11 or access our free of cost business guide on the website. Board the flight to prosperity!

Learn. Earn. Return – The story behind deAsra Foundation

The story of how Dr. Anand Deshpande founded Persistent Systems Ltd. and how he built it step by step into the huge IT giant it is today, will be written in golden letters in Indian Start-up history.  We also know that here is one man who believes in doing more than what he has accomplished; a man who strives to find a larger purpose in what he does; a man who works towards making a difference to the lives of people, to the world that we inhabit.

Very often, we start thinking about our larger purpose as we touch mid-life. The same happened with Dr. Anand Deshpande. He and his soulmate, Sonali Deshpande had been thinking about ‘doing something more for the society’ for years. The coffee conversations however bore fruit when Anand Deshpande turned 50. And as it turned out, while celebrating his fiftieth year, he created a new milestone – deAsra Foundation.

Here’s the story behind deAsra Foundation, in his own words.

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Dr. Anand Deshpande (Founder, MD & CEO Persistent Systems. Founder, deAsra Foundation)

“My wife Sonali and I, used to chat a lot about how to do something more than business. Then a chance meeting with my friend in the year when I turned 50, put life in the right perspective. He said, life should be divided into three parts- Learn, earn and return. Now was my time to do the last part – Return. Return to society. However, I wanted the ‘Return’ to be far more encompassing than plain charity. And deAsra Foundation was born.

deAsra Foundation, like the name suggests is ‘to give or lend support’ to budding entrepreneurs in all aspects of setting up and running a business. Inspired by Bill Gates and his foundation that was formed to solve problems in global health and education, I decided to solve the very real and large problem of unemployment in India by providing livelihood through entrepreneurship, by floating deAsra Foundation. While there are many agencies who support entrepreneurial dreams though specific activities, there was no organization that integrated it all under one roof and made information, knowledge, expertise and assistance so easily accessible to entrepreneurs. With more than half of our population under the age of 35 years and with the Government’s vision of ‘Start-up India, Stand Up India’ gathering steam, deAsra Foundation is positioned impeccably to guide entrepreneurs in their journey to success.

I want deAsra Foundation to be the support system that aspiring entrepreneurs look up to. I want to demystify entrepreneurship for the common man and make him think of entrepreneurship as a preferable and viable career option.”

 

Delight Your Customer!

In the previous blog post, I wrote about how Quality has different meanings for different people.When we sell goods internationally, it is critical that these goods are produced to and maintained at a certain high standard – one that is decided by our customer and that we have committed to meet.

However, for a service, the customer does not define a standard and we do not have a clear idea of his expectation. As we have no idea about the customer’s expectations, the question of agreeing to meet them does not arise. Even so, there are some basic expectations that we must fulfill if we want to provide good quality service. Let’s look at some examples to understand this.

On a visit to a dentist, as soon as I had sat in the chair, I saw the previous patient’s extracted tooth, a swab of bloodied cotton and used instruments on a round table next to my chair. I also saw some red stains in the basin next to the chair. I mumbled an excuse and promptly got up and left. I went to the dentist next door. At the second dentist, I was called in only after everything had been cleaned. The dentist washed his hands in front of me and sterilized every instrument before examining me. I was impressed by his methods. After that, not only did I become a regular patient, I also recommended him to numerous friends and acquaintances.

On another occasion, I had called a plumber to my house to fix a leaking tap. The plumber came, changed the washer and got the tap working. After that, he threw the old washer into the garbage bin and cleaned the tap and the surrounding area. He then proceeded to check all the taps in the house and clean their filters – all this without being told! While leaving, he gave us a bill for the work done, along with a detailed break-up of the amount. He told us that we could call him any time between 7 am to 9 pm for anything we needed. He has now become the ‘go-to’ person for my household.

The well-known Marathi writer, Shri Va Pu Kale, has recorded several observations in his story ‘Satavalekar’ from his ‘Karmachari’ collection. He has described in accurate detail how finding a piece of onion or garlic skin or chilly stalk in one’s ‘kanda-pohe’ is enough to dampen one’s enthusiasm!

Nowadays, most weddings serve buffets. There, if one has to wipe one’s own plate, spoon and bowl, then, however good the food may be, it is unlikely to earn any praise. At some buffets, some of the items have to still ‘arrive’. When this happens, a person usually eats whatever he can get, compliments the hosts on the good food and makes his way out!

Small things like these cause a customer to feel let down. Every customer won’t give you his feedback; he will simply avoid you.

Overall, we have to think about what will make our service good, decide the processes to be followed and keep making improvements to bring our service to a level of excellence. Only then will our customers say that we offer ‘quality’.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is a director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.

Quality Lesson from a Taxi Driver

As customers, we often get frustrated when we don’t get satisfactory service at the time when we need it. How many times have we been angry and frustrated at call drops just when we are in the middle of an important conversation? Similarly, when you are in the role of a supplier, your customer expects service that meets his expectations.

However, in the daily flurry of running a business – raw material procurement, production, marketing, delivery, managing cash flow and loan repayments – we often forget this most important aspect of our business – Quality.

What exactly is Quality? Quality has many different meanings. Often, quality is relative. Everyone measures quality based on their own expectations and perceptions. These expectations are different for different customers and sometimes they could be diametrically opposite – hence, it is difficult to define ‘Quality’.

Overall, it is important for a businessman to know the expectations of his customers and what is critical to his customers.

The Taxi Story

Mumbai Taxi

I’d like to illustrate the concept of Quality and Customer Delight through a personal experience.
I was outside Dadar Station in Mumbai one day, looking for a taxi to take me to Santa Cruz. I was impressed by a taxi that looked spick and span and promptly hailed it and got in. To my pleasant surprise, the interior of the taxi matched its exterior – it was clean and fragrant. Moreover, the taxi was equipped with every conceivable item a passenger could possibly need – English and Marathi dailies, copies of rail and air timetables, a list of emergency numbers, a sealed bottle of drinking water and a mobile charger. The driver was courteous and disciplined, even asking me what kind of music I would like to listen to! I was so delighted that, on reaching my destination, I gave him a hundred rupee tip.

I was curious and asked him how he could afford to provide this level of service to his customers. He replied that what he received in tips more than made up for the expense incurred. What’s more, he had the satisfaction of happy customers, who, in turn, would go forth to do their work with enthusiasm!

Have you ever had such an experience? No? From now on, I tell every taxi and rickshaw driver I meet, that if they provide such excellent service, they will never have to go looking for customers; customers would come looking for them!

I hope we realise the importance of quality and understand that it requires prioritization.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is a director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.