Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable!

By RENUKA NATU, Founder – Director, Renuka Natu Travel Relations

We moved the bees and the geese, didn’t we? And thus vanished our cheese.
Well, that’s the rule of this game! Who is to blame?

As tender shoots of hope begin to sprout. Our arduous walk on the green mile finally appears
to wane. Work and life resurrect one gasp at a time. The future depends upon how we
withstand the forthcoming seasons together. It won’t be easy, but aren’t we good with
challenges?

It’s time, to sharpen our tools, not our claws, blunt fingernails are most effective, as they
don’t intend to hurt.

A revolution in our sphere is the need of the hour. Reform is waiting to happen.
Our industry requires a structure. Just and fair rules favourable to our clients & to us, the stake
holders, need to be assigned.

Here, I’d like to draw a parallel between ‘travel design’ & ‘interior design’,
two very similar yet different businesses.

Our customers’ profiles and the wide product range that we can offer are very alike.
A week’s outbound holiday could cost anywhere between USD 1000 –10,000 + per person.
Likewise, decorating a space could cost anywhere between INR 2000 – 200,000 + per square
foot.

Only experienced hands can arrive at a design and pocket friendly median. Those hands
belong to us, we are the designers.

In both businesses there is heavy reliance on 3rd party procurement & delivery.
Both offer employment opportunities to skilled & unskilled labor across the world.

Our sole goal is a happy customer!

One striking difference though, is that travel is intangible, it is experiential and ephemeral,
but the outcome of interior design is tangible

Nevertheless, given the innumerable elements that work towards realizing the customer’s dreams, be it for holidays or decor, it becomes imperative to have a designer, who recognizes
the unique aspirations and desires of his customer.

An advisor who understands and cares for his customer’s minutest requirements, habits and at times eccentricities.

A curator who seamlessly weaves the entire story with one strong, reliable thread.
Can this curator ever be the Internet? Certainly not! The internet doesn’t know the customer, we do!
In both cases, complete value for his money can be derived only with sound & relevant
advice from a subject expert.

Why then can an ‘interior designer’ charge a fee for his designing skills as well as enjoy protection from various vendors, but a ‘travel designer’ must solely depend upon frail, ofteneroding margins?
Serious players in the travel industry invest considerable amounts of time & resources to learn about various destinations.
Nothing comes for free!

This precise knowledge when applied to appeal to each customer’s individual preferences, is
what makes the difference, that’s our value addition!

A paradigm shift in our own mindset has become crucial and critical!
We must – – Believe in our own abilities.
– Have faith in our knowledge, exposure & expertise
– Rely on our world-wide network
– Interdepend, synergize, and co-exist
– Have the conviction in our craft
– Most importantly have the gumption to refuse assistance to those who do not value the
worth that we bring to their travel experiences.
We must know and learn when to say NO!

Now is the opportunity to extend our unconditional support to the traveler.
It is now more than ever that the traveler will require handholding.
The ever-changing protocols, policies, dynamic schedules, excessive information (often
unverified), and many such variables make today’s traveler extremely vulnerable. Our expertise is vital to everyone and anyone embarking on a journey, be it for leisure or for
business.

If only we could – – Stop dispensing free advice
– Make research hours billable
– Stay abreast with latest travel protocols
– Be responsible and accountable
– The world is colossal, it’s humanly impossible to know everything, so identify
destination experts amongst us and leverage by sharing knowledge. – Work on an industry specific margin
– Strictly admonish ‘under-cutting’
– Encourage ‘value-addition’
– Become so ethical that our partners are compelled to quote the “India example” to
the world.
The world no doubt has shrunk, yet the chasms have never been so deep and wide before.
We’ve learned the hard way that we only have each other to fall back on. Our industry is
deprived of blessings from authorities.
Our passion has kept us afloat through this dry spell!
Let’s build our raft ourselves, with the strongest rope of trust and together let’s stay afloat.
‘Sticks in a bundle are indeed unbreakable!

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Mark Lewis-Brown, CEO & President, Vertical Booking USA
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