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Friday, 30 November, 2018, 14 : 18 PM [IST]

Bringing Canada closer to India

Widely seen as a market leader for Canadian tourism products and services in India, Mazda Travel attained this feat by adopting two simple strategies - addressing the exact needs of travel agents and ensuring travellers come back with satisfaction from their vacations. Over the years this has played a very significant role in popularising Canada among Indian travellers and perhaps it will not be wrong to say that Mazda Travel has been playing the de facto tourism board for Canada, writes Prasenjit Chakraborty.

Mazda Travel which is perceived as a market leader for Canada in India started its journey in 1998 with a simple philosophy that nothing beats personalised service and attention to detail. “We have religiously followed the philosophy and grown our business over the years,” said Mernoz Shastri, Director, Mazda Travel Inc. Mazda since its inception realised that India is a price-sensitive market and travellers want quality service and peace of mind when they are travelling.

Taking due cognisance of these facts, they devised their strategy and have tried to address the issues that customers want. The company walked the extra mile to ensure that their team works hard so that the passengers come back with satisfaction. “We observed that there are many repeat customers in this industry. Therefore, we take the responsibility to ensure that passengers who travelled with our channel partners to Canada, if they come back happy, they are likely to go to another country through the same travel agent,” pointed out Shastri. This is a support to the travel agents who on a continuous basis gives business to Mazda.

Mazda Travel, for Canada, crafted 42 different programmes to cater to a wide range of customers, right from Escorted Group Departures to Independent Vacations, Self Drive Holidays and Private Journeys. Some of the packages were created way back in 1998 and they enjoy the same popularity even today. According to Shastri, their Independent Vacations are very popular in the Indian market. Maple Explorer is one of their popular programmes which is priced economically starting in Toronto and ending in Montreal covering all major sights and attractions on the East Coast.

When Mazda started its business, Canada was perceived as a niche destination by travellers in India and Niagara Falls was the sole attraction for them. “Canadian Rockies and other locations were not even known to them,” said Shastri. Destination Canada, Indian travel agents and other stakeholders of the industry relentlessly marketed Canada in India and their efforts met with success. Today, Canada has emerged as one of the preferred destinations for Indians. “Canada as a destination in the last 8 years has evolved rapidly. I believe in the last year 235,000 Indians visited Canada,” he said.

Talking about evolving business, he said that when a new destination is introduced in India people by default mechanism tend to go for escorted departures and such groups are unique in India. “But that can’t help grow the destination because that (escorted group) is just one segment,” pointed out Shastri. Mazda Travel with its deep understanding of the market realized that there are people who want new experiences which means there exists a market beyond the Escorted Groups. In their endeavour to tap that market and also allow the destination to grow, Mazda introduced Self Drive Holidays, Private Journeys and Rail Vacations.

Talking about a very recent development, Shastri said that the Indians are looking for different adventure activities. “10 years ago, nobody knew about bungee jumping and today people are crazy for this and going to countries like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to enjoy the activity. Keeping all the developments in mind, we have devoted 18-pages in our Discover Canada Brochure which appeals to a wide range of audience,” he revealed.

Throwing light on an important trend, Shastri said that world over the travel business is getting consolidated. To become competitive in the market smaller companies are merging with large companies. “In India, the trend is something different although some consolidation is taking place. What we see that main drivers for niche destinations are not the top tier agencies located in major metros. But it is the Tier-II & III cities,” he pointed out. Therefore it is not a surprise that 30-35% of their business has been coming from the agents in these markets whom the company never dealt with till a few years back. Citing an example, Shastri said that the travel agents from Ahmedabad are catering to destinations all over the world as much as metro cities do. “I don’t think Ahmedabad falls in Tier-II category anymore,” he said.

Mazda Travel realises that the real potential lies in smaller cities and towns of India. And this could translate into huge business only when agents from such places confidently offer product to their customers. And to materialise that requires training. Over a period, the company provided training approximately to 1,100 travel agents located in smaller towns and cities across the country. It developed a suitable module and given free training to agents. “We have conducted online and offline training programmes and also ensure that it speaks only about Destination Canada not Mazda Travel,” says Shastri. So, in a way Mazda Travel is a de facto tourism board for Canada in India. For Mazda, it has always been a calibrated approach to understand the exact need of travel agents and address their needs. And all these efforts are paying rich dividends. The bookings for the current year are closed along with payments for the year 2019 and this is for the first time in the history of Mazda Travel. “This is a huge development and people are realising the importance and benefits of early bookings.”

There is another important side of Mazda Travel, it provides sample freedom to its employees to take decisions. Many employees who joined on the day the company was launched are still associated with the organiaation. No doubt, it speaks volume of the internal atmosphere of the company and the opportunity it provides to its staff to grow. “Every person in our office is a boss in their own unique way. And we also make sure that every employee’s tomorrow will be better than today,” said Shastri.
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