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Indians are ready to get out of their comfort zone: G Adventures' Bruce Poon Tip

Bruce Poon Tip, Founder, G Adventures says in future people will make travel choices based on the life they have led and that is going to be sustainable.

Manisha Singhal        Last Updated: April 23, 2014  | 13:32 IST
Bruce Poon Tip, Founder, G Adventures
Bruce Poon Tip, Founder, G Adventures

The king of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness model was an eye opener for Bruce Poon Tip, Founder, G Adventures. The Toronto-based travel enthusiast was inspired to evolve his business mantra around happiness. G Adventures has presence in 100 countries across all seven continents and serves 100,000 people annually. Poon Tip started his travel company in 1990 by exhausting his credit card limit to cater to the holidaymakers who are not only bitten by the adventure bug but also care for sustainable and responsible tourism. He now plans to add depth to his India offerings as he announced a tie-up with Ezeego1.com, an online outfit of Mumbai-based travel company Cox & Kings. The idea is to offer new experiences to Indian travellers. "In future people will make travel choices based on the life they have led and that is going to be sustainable," said Poon Tip, in an interview with BT's Manisha Singhal. Edited Excerpts:

Q. How will you explain your concept to Indian travellers?

A. The 'Grab Your Dream' campaign will identify 50 Indian travellers who will be pioneering advocates of our style of travel, i.e. experiential small (international) group travel offering unique experiences to our travellers whilst at the same time benefiting the communities visited by keeping it local (experiences and money).
Through word of mouth, social media and on/off line communication channels, we feel that there will be no better way to explain our concept than for it to be communicated by Indians who have travelled with us and have first-hand experience.

Couple this with Cox & Kings (C&K) staff training throughout India and leveraging their expertise and distribution, we feel the combination is a powerful force to spread the word of our unique style of travel.

Q. Why tie up with C&K when you already sell in India through G Adventures? What will this bring on the table for you?

A. Our direct sales out of India are currently very limited and tend to be expats who already know about our brand and style of travel. C&K is the premier travel company in India and their distribution channels to market are comprehensive, thus distributing our joint message far and wide.

But the main reason we have partnered with C&K is their passion for our brand, the understanding of what we are trying to achieve and the desire to mirror what we do from a Corporate Social Responsibility point of view. The strongest bond between companies is when their cultures and values are similarly aligned.

Q. How are your offerings going to be different from what you are already offering in India through your online sales? The current circuits you sell are very conventional and safe places. Will you innovate here?

A. G Adventures offers tours to many exotic places around the world from all the major countries, in West Africa on our expedition ship through to Venezuela, Colombia, the majority of Central American countries, the Arctic, Antarctica through to the heart of the Amazon. We operate our own tours in all seven continents of the world with over 700 different itineraries to choose from.

Q. Indians do group tours that are well within their comfort zone. You have a model where you gather a group with same aspirations. Do you think you will have to customise your packages for Indians that offer them the comfort of their region, friends and family?

A. We believe Indians are ready for something new to experience, to get out of their comfort zones. Our product positioning is unique and therefore well positioned to expand the outbound travel market in India, not simply to take market share away from those companies which offer something similar.

Q. Going forward, how do you see the demand growing for adventure tourism in India? What is the sale of these experiences currently? And by how much is it expected to grow?

A. We view our commitment to the Indian inbound and outbound market as a long-term investment and therefore we are realistic in our expectations for growing this segment of the market. However, if we look at our sales in similar markets worldwide, we expect to see growth of at least 30 per cent year on year after the first year of full sales.

Q. The offerings of eco tours in India are very limited. How will it work for your inbound market? Will you be only offering packages for the outbound travelers?

A. We have been selling inbound in India for more than seven years and our tours in India are amongst the most popular we sell in the seven continents that we operate tours in. We believe that people all over the world want to live in a better place and to have the same experiences left for their children and future generations to enjoy. Our style of travel is a way in which people can contribute to increased wealth distribution, worldwide local employment and help conserve nature and cultural history and enjoying a fantastic experience at the same time.

Q. Experience packages are something that other travel companies are also offering in India. Do you see value for your kind of offerings and how will you differentiate from others?

A. We have been offering experience-based small group travel for more than 23 years. As a leader in the industry, it's not uncommon for our competitors to try to mimic what we do and offer. We welcome this as it ultimately creates better travel experiences for the consumer and more importantly, it makes a tangible and positive difference on the communities visited.

What makes G Adventures different is our unique social enterprise business model, our strong corporate culture, commitment to giving back and commitment to leading with service. We were the first to introduce Lifetime Deposits, 24/7 service and 100 per cent guaranteed departures - all created with the customer in mind.

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