Family travel is not just about going on vacations; it's about creating a tapestry of experiences that bind families together, create lasting memories, and enrich lives in ways nothing else can. In today's fast-paced world, where our daily lives often pull us in different directions, family travel offers a precious opportunity to reconnect, strengthen relationships, and embark on adventures that will be cherished for a lifetime. Booking a tour operator for your travel can offer numerous benefits and enhance your overall travel experience in several ways. Manish Agarwal, the Managing Director of Neem Holidays Pvt Ltd sheds light on the importance of family holidays, how to choose the right tour operator and why you should book a tour operator for your travel. Excerpts:
What are some of the best travel packages that Neem Holidays Pvt Ltd offers?
We only deal with international tours and family holidays. In a way, this is our niche. There are many tour companies that organise group and solo trips but at Neem we only specialise in family holidays. We don't do domestic travel anymore.
What is included in a travel package?
It's an end-to-end service. Our package will be inclusive of visa, airfare, travel insurance, hotel bookings, international transfers, local transport and a guide, everything is taken care of by us.
Do tell us about the cheapest and most expensive travel package.
The cheapest travel plan we have is for Europe in one lakh for six nights. The most expensive tour is for four lakh per person for 23 days. The cheapest plan is called a value-for-money tour since the culture of travelling abroad is still in a growing stage. People in India spend savings on travel. They save money to take a trip. We started with 60 thousand trips in the beginning and we did very well.
Are the prices low because of the competition in the travel sector?
Competition is there but that can only be met with the services you provide. We believe in giving the best services and aspire to be among the top family holiday services in India. All we see is planning the best holiday for the family so that they can be our regular customers. We have created a market of value for money. Moreover, it's always advisable to plan a trip in advance because the travel fares are cheaper so that way we plan the tours in advance. This business is more about averaging out business. People who book early get cheaper rates but those who delay will have to pay the higher price.
Is there any specific reason that you don't want to venture into other segments of travel like solo travel or domestic travel?
We are very focused on what we want to do. To give you a specific answer, we are like a Chinese restaurant where you get only Chinese food, unlike other places where you get a mix of food. There are many travel companies offering different tour packages but we wanted to create a niche for ourselves. We only do family group tours and the family can be just husband and wife. We are the only tour company which is doing only family tour packages.
How big should the group be when you plan a package for them?
We plan for about 30-40 people but any family can join the group. But there will not be any solo travellers in that group, it has to be a family.
In terms of travel assistance, what is included when one takes a full international tour package for a family?
We call this an escorting group facility. It's an escorted tour where there will be an escort available at the airport. And from there on everything will be taken care of by the team. You will have doctors on call. Vegetarian food, and trip guide among other facilities.
Some people say taking a tour package from a travel agency is more expensive than planning by yourself. What do you have to say about that?
It's both ways. For instance, if you are travelling to Japan in a group, your trip will be very cheap. Japan is an expensive country and when you are going to a place where the cost of transport is high, it will help you divide the charges among other members. If you plan an individual trip, it will be very expensive. But if you are traveling to places like Thailand or Singapore then they won't cost you much even when you plan individually.
Has the travel scene changed after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. Earlier, people used to travel for vacations, work or weddings. But after the pandemic, people are travelling because of experiences. The pandemic kind of made people realise that they need to experience life rather than save a lot of money because many people lost their loved ones to COVID-19. Now people want to spend time with their family and so the travel is increasing. The shift is coming from a saving economy to a spending economy. In addition, there is a loan available for travel. A newlywed couple can take a loan and travel to a nice foreign destination. Travel has become much easier now.
India is a huge tourism spot adding huge to the country's economy. Is there anything that the country needs to develop to improve tourism?
I think we need to have more homestays and legal policies for that. It can be sharing one of your extra rooms in the house or giving your home on rent to tourists just like how Airbnb works. This can be an extra revenue generation for families. There will be a companion if an elderly couple is living alone in the house. For instance, next year more than seven crore people will be travelling to Ayodhya. There will be a crunch of accommodation because the number of hotels in the city will be booked in advance. So, one is left with no option but to stay far from the destination. It's important that we have a legalised system of homestay.