Travel Jan, 28 2013

Cashing in on vacations

By Ritu G Chauhan
Cashing in on vacations

Grown to become the eighth largest vacation ownership company in the world, Club Mahindra is an award winning concept in its category.  In an intyerview, Rohit Malik, Chief Sales Officer, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd shares brand’s expansion plans via franchise route.

Ritu G Chauhan (RGC): Share with us the growth and success journey of ‘Club Mahindra’. How has been the journey so far?

Rohit Malik (RM): Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL) is an award winning vacation ownership concept subscribed to by over 1,50,000 member families. Club Mahindra presently has a network of 43 resorts across India and abroad. It is a part of the Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group. 2012 has been a good year for Mahindra Holidays. We have grown to become the eigth largest vacation ownership company in the world. We increased our inventory by over 48 per cent, and strengthened our customer centric efforts with the launch of the online booking facility. We are a brand for Indian families and remain committed to growing our network in geographies where Indians holiday.

RGC:  How different is the brand from other holiday planners in India?

RM: The segment that we operate in is quite different in from general holiday planners. In our business module; Vacation Ownership: the consumer invests in our product by paying upfront and committing to vacation with us over the next 25 years.  Hence, it is important to ensure that every member association has an element of freshness. Destinations have been chosen and continue to be evaluated on the opportunity to add variety to the family holiday experience. Regular up-gradations like Crocodile Club for younger children Svaastha, a spa for rejuvenation, gourmet dining experiences are things that Mahindra Holidays has pioneered to ensure that the brand meets evolving expectations of leisure holidayers seeking a family inclusive experience. We believe that we been able to create an experience which is unique to us. In addition we have established a multichannel acquisition process allows us to reach out to the right target group. Moreover, we are constantly working to improve our reach.

RGC: What inspired you to adopt the franchise route for expansion of your network?

RM: Club Mahindra as a product is a unique proposition given the long term nature of the product. Selling Club Mahindra is selling the concept of vacationing for the next 25 years by paying upfront. We have seen that relationships build trust and aid sales. A franchise’s entire business model is based on relationships as a franchise acquires a customer for life and this compliments our product and our customer acquisition philosophy.

RGC: Share your expansion plans. What can you predict about the future success of ‘Club Mahindra?

RM: The countries which have been brought closer economically due to LCC flights are where we will look to expand our business. In line with this we plan to expand to Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Dubai, we have already announced the acquisition of a 77room resort in Bangkok last month. In India we will look to strengthen our presence in the East, J&K and Uttarakhand. All of the above has helped us accelerate our member acquisition

At MHRIL we have identified that our success is reliant on three factors: achieving higher consistency in member experience across all touch-points, the ability to reach out to our target audiences in a non-intrusive manner, expanding our reach by growing our distribution network closer to our prospects.  In keeping with the above key factors we will continue to grow our network by consistently making prospect interaction and member engagement better than it currently is. We are confident that given our ambitions and our approach, we will definitely achieve our goals

RGC: What according to you is the scope for aspirants keen on taking the franchise for Club Mahindra?

RM: Holidaying as a concept is seeing a huge spurt from the middle and upper-middle class. We have seen that there are a number of people who are willing to commit to holiday and this interest coupled with rising disposable incomes is resulting in a rise in holidaying patterns. We see a huge potential in this model and are sure the aspiring franchises will too.

RGC: What are the basic fundamentals that you seek for in your franchisees and how much initial investment and area is required by aspiring franchisees?

RM: When we approach a franchise we look for these criteria: An understanding of the local market, current business with a steady client base, time to invest in and grow the business. An aspiring franchise will look at an investment of around Rs 2 lakh and will need an office space of 300-350 sq ft.

RGC: Share with us the challenges that can be faced by your franchisees? How can they be overcome?

RM: The franchises need to firstly appreciate and understand the concept that is Vacation Ownership and create the Mindset of a concept based sale. Vacation Ownership is a concept product and the understanding that sales will happen only by sitting across the table and spending time explaining the concept to the prospect. Once the mindset is in place all else falls in place

Related: Offline travel centres gaining grounds

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