Flying high with ideas

Boutique travel agencies are now offering virtual experiential sessions conducted by local experts in other countries

Published: 27th May 2020 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th May 2020 06:50 AM   |  A+A-

A tulip trail in the Netherlands put together by Active Holiday Company

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Sound healing from an expert in Chiang Mai, cooking lessons from a Balinese home chef, and flamingo moves by a native in Spain. While Bengalureans formerly packed their bags to experiences such immersive sessions in different countries, the coronavirus outbreak has made boutique travel agencies re-invent the way they work. Garima Pande, co-founder-director of WanderingJane, that organises activity-based trips, says they’ve always worked in conjunction with local experts. So when the lockdown came into effect, many of them told her their struggles due to lack of tourists.

“Anticipating that travel will not be the same for 18-24 months, we asked them to send videos of them cooking or dancing. When those gained traction, we thought of figuring novel ways to tackle the changing travel landscape,” says Pande about the experiences which are priced between `299 and 899.  

If everything had gone on as per schedule, Seema Jaising would have launched her food experiences put together in a treasure-hunt format in various parts India this year-end. She is now working out logistics to see the feasibility of doing these virtually. “The idea is to find a guide who will take people on a virtual tour of places like Jayanagar, Malleswaram, MG Road and Koramangala. Maybe the guide could give a few clues, and the top people to guess the place would get a restaurant hamper,”  says the owner and founder of Che Experiences. 

WanderingJane is facilitating Balinese cooking classes by locals

Gauri Jayaram, founder of Active Holiday Company, which focuses on active and adventure holidays, has seen 100 per cent cancellations for this year’s bookings. “Our key destination is Europe for cycling and walking tours, most of which were scheduled from March to October. Now, one can only sit and wait since no strategy is really going to help change the demand in any way,” she says.  

While they have some bookings for marathons, though the fate of these events remains open-ended at this point, no one wants to commit to travel due to the uncertainty. “It’s unlikely that long-haul leisure travel will happen in 2020. It may even stretch into the first quarter of 2021,” says Jayaram, who feels a ‘pent-up demand’ once things open will help agencies get back on track. “The main thing is being able to tide through this current phase,” she says, adding that while the domestic sector may pick up sooner than international, her company’s expertise lies in the latter. “It will be hard for us to change our focus. The time and effort needed to build our competence will not make sense,” she says.

India Matters


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