KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Mumbai
O-Six Travel & Hospitality Group, through its various niche brands which include LeapFrog Holidays, AQ Active Travel, 360 Degree Himalaya and Back Country Caravan Safaris, is expanding its niche product offerings. In the near future, the company plans to transform 360 Degree Himalaya into an inbound operator, which currently offers Himalayan destination specialised products to domestic travellers. Apart from this, it also plans to introduce hop-on-hop-off tours within the Himalayan region. It will look at pushing active travel in India under its brand AQ Active Travel and introduce a line-up of global brands offering products for all ages and special interest groups. Once the company receives all the on-ground logistics and clearances to introduce Campervans, it will introduce caravan safaris in the market by early next year. While LeapFrog Holidays will focus on increasing its geographical presence across the country as well as MICE products, both domestically as well as outbound.
Talking about the company’s brands and expansion plans, Sandeep Khandelwal, CEO, O-SIX Travel & Hospitality Group said, “The brands are designed to cater to the specific needs of guests. Each brand has been established keeping in mind the different types of travellers, because there is a huge gap when it comes to classifying guests, whether domestic or outbound. Keeping this diverse target group satisfied is what we aim to achieve by setting up the different, well carved brands offering customised services for each sub group. We consider ourselves pioneers of ‘all inclusive’ tour packages. Our group departure products include the basic land package, air fare, taxes, sightseeing, meals. We have plans to go online with all our products and deals. We do not want to be in the domain of ticket booking, hotel bookings, but complete tour packages for inbound, outbound and domestic guests.”
Elaborating on the current market scenario of the travel industry and the reason for the expansion plan, Khandelwal added, “Given the market conditions, it is a time for smart consolidation. You cannot put everything under the same brand. You have to consider the smaller sub groups of consumers. Everyone is not looking for the same kind of product. Apart from the need to have niche brands with focused products, the tourism industry is too fragmented in India. The smaller travel agents may not have the buying/negotiating bandwidth with the suppliers and delivery capabilities. To maximise on their overall travel experience, people have started booking individual elements of the tour online, tickets, hotels, local transfers, etc, on which a travel agent with a sizable operation and repute among the suppliers can provide an all round satisfying service. Due to the gap in travel experiences between smaller traveller agents and organised operators, the latter faces trouble convincing the consumer of its capabilities. The consumer today is well researched, well informed, especially when spending big on an international holiday with the family. Presently the size of the Indian travel and hospitality industry is pegged at approximately US$ 118 billion according to a report by WTTC. An individual brand is fine, but it is essential for those brands to have a firm backing of a group with long term goals and foresight.”