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Jun, 15 2012

MAP PROFITS VIA ONLINE TRAVEL BIZ

Providing quality information for major tourist destinations across the world, My Destination has set out to become an expert online travel guide. In an interview with Namita Bhagat, Shinod Lukose, Director, Blue Caramel Info Services Pvt. Ltd, talks abou

Providing quality information for major tourist destinations across the world, My Destination has set out to become an expert online travel guide. In an interview with Namita Bhagat, Shinod Lukose, Director, Blue Caramel Info Services Pvt. Ltd, talks about the brand's expansion plans in India.

Tell us about the origin and concept of 'My Destination'?

My Destination.com was established in 2006 by Neil Waller and James Street. It all began when two of them were students in Bath University and doing a project to map out tourist opportunities in a city called Marbella (Spain). When they couldn't find sufficient information online, they decided to make a dedicated tourism portal for the city themselves. After noticing that even some of the great cities in the world had insufficient information online they set out to fill this gap. MyDestination.com then sought out locally based contributors in international locations, allowing users to find activities, attractions and culinary destinations. Today sites are being launched on an almost weekly basis and the growing number of local experts is a testament to the successful model that has been put in place. The founders, who are fond of travel, have received several coveted awards for their unique concept and business idea. Headquartered in London, UK, the community spans all the major continents worldwide with more than 120 destinations across the world.

How unique is the concept?

The USP of the concept and the product is that My Destination websites are handled by local experts and they provide local flavour, correct information, etc, to the travellers. The brand's portals have multimedia packages for better presentation of local business houses on the Internet like 360 degree virtual tours, mobile applications, videos for the individual listings. Besides, free vouchers can be taken from the site to avail deals and discounts.

When and how did the brand enter India?

The brand has appointed Blue Caramel Info Services Pvt. Ltd, headquartered in Udaipur, Rajasthan, as their official franchise unit for India. We will be handling the India operations that started in November 2011. Currently, we have two websites operational, one each for Rajasthan and Mumbai. We plan to extend our presence in Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, and in other parts of India as well in the near future.

Could you share with us the area, capital and infrastructure needed from the franchisee's end?

There are no office area constraints for the business; it can be operated from home with a laptop and a good speed Internet connection. We have offices in Jaipur and Udaipur with sales team and content writers to provide quality services to our customers.

We are also open to partner with individuals and companies who would like to get associated with us. The franchise fee depends upon the area and popularity of a particular destination and it ranges between $ 20,000 and 45,000 for a period of five years. The operational expenses are other than above mentioned fee.

What kind of training and support is given to the My Destination franchisee?

There is an initial training given to manage and operate the website and one can frequently interact with franchise support managers for queries or have discussions with other franchisees present worldwide.

What are the challenges and competition for the brand in India?

Practically there is not much competition at the moment because there are very few players actively present in India. However, there are also some other players who are affirming their presence in a big way. We are challenged by relatively lower Internet penetration in India. Besides, in India people are still not much aware of the Internet being a good option to market one's business. These are the few hurdles we face at the moment.

What is the future of online travel business in India?

Indian consumers will slowly and steadily understand and respond to the benefits of our concept and services and they will prefer online travel solutions. The future of the industry seems bright as online travel booking is now contributing to a big chunk of business in India.

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