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Few years ago buying travel packages was the most convenient thing for a holiday. Then came the era of online hotel and flight booking. Today, the internet is flooded with hotel and flight booking services but there is a missing substance in that segment – finding and booking local experiences such as sightseeing tours, activities, attraction tickets and passes to events.

What many big names in the travel industries could not think of, three Bangalore based young entrepreneurs from India have done. Varun Khona with his experience of being an entrepreneur from an early age, Vikram Jit Singh with his expertise in coding and designing and Suren Sultania with his operational and financial expertise, created Tourlandish.

Tourlandish team

Tourlandish is a global online marketplace that assists travellers find and book adventures and destination based famous ‘things to do’.  In doing so, the website also helps service providers distribute inventory online enabling them to be discovered by travellers.

It has been only one month since the service was opened to travellers and they have already managed to sell experiences in 38 cities across 14 countries!

The company has made its presence felt in Singapore, Bangkok, Sydney and Barcelona. Cities like Phuket, Bali, Dubai and Mumbai will soon be added. With a strong focus on traffic to and Asia, the startup company plans to span its presence to over 50 cities by the end of 2014.

Tourlandish Singapore Mangrove Kayaking

We at The World Reporter got a chance to interview the Tourlandish team.

How did you come up with this idea?

It was a strange combination of a personal experience and professional feedback.

Varun (who is now my co-founder) was planning a trip to Europe to meet me and had a long list of ‘must experience’ activities. We struggled with the emails, calls, language barriers etc. while talking to these offline businesses providing extremely interesting local experiences. 80% of them didn’t have a bookable website and it was a pretty annoying affair given this was 2012. We ended up spending precious hours googling, calling, emailing these folks.

Around the same time, the feedback from customers using Trippy’s services largely centred around the fact that they were very comfortable booking flights and hotels online but stumbled when it comes to discovering ‘things to do’ and its booking.

The combination of these two factors clearly signalled an opportunity.

He pitched this idea at Startup Weekend Bangalore and ended up winning the competition. That gave us a lot of confidence to take that leap of faith.

What challenges did you face while converting this idea into a business?

From the beginning, we’ve had a very clear idea of how we want to build this business and what our business model would be. The biggest challenge that we faced when we started was in terms of identifying and reaching out to tour operators around the world to work with them. Another key challenge was our lack of financial and human resources which meant we were always understaffed. However, that has forced us to keep our ship lean and do things more efficiently.

Why have not you launched your services in India yet?

India is a wonderful country. Inbound tourism to India is growing rapidly and there are a number of experiential products that can be created around history, culture, food, nature, attractions, adventure sports etc. in a country like ours. However, the big challenge with the Indian market is the limited number of professional, organised operators. However, we’re slowly seeing a trend towards professional suppliers here and I think once this problem is solved, we can look at India in a big way.

There are already some cities / regions in India where we’re seeing professional operators in significant numbers and we’re looking to work closely with the industry to continue this trend. We will be launching in Mumbai this February.

What is the monetization model for Tourlandish?

Our monetization model is very simple – we charge a fee to the operators on the revenues they generate through the Tourlandish marketplace. We do not charge a fee to the traveller and there is no mark-up or hidden costs in our prices.

How big do you consider Indian market given that not many ‘things to do’ local services have online presence, providing you ample opportunities to connect them with your global marketplace.

I believe the Indian market for local travel services can be very big with the huge potential of products that we have. It’s difficult to put a number since the products and supplier base is still evolving here but typically it is around 20% of the total in-destination tourism spend. So clearly, the opportunity is there. The Indian market is definitely very important for us and we want to be a part of its evolution.

Find them on the web and win a free adventure experience – Headout.com

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Explore What May Work Better For Your Business

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What works for one business is not necessarily going to work for another. But one mistake that many small business owners make is chasing solutions that they see working for other businesses. It leads to the copycat style of business, and it’s not always going to do good. It’s easy to follow in the footsteps of those that have gone before you, but now that the business market is so crowded, following what someone else is doing is not going to get you anywhere. Being in business should be about being innovative and successful. We know that someone is always going to have done what you have done, but you should be figuring out what works for your business based on your own ideas. There are ideas such as marketing techniques that work universally, but there are some things that we’re going to discuss today. We want to show you how you can explore what may work for your business, and the areas of your business that might need a little boost at this time of the year. We’re still very much in the New Year dip in terms of sales, so hopefully this will help you boost them!

Better Business Management 

Better business management is obviously going to improve the chances of success of your business. We’re not all born to manage a business, and often, the modern day entrepreneur is setting up their business without a clue what they’re doing. There are some that start out having been a manager at a company before, but still, the actual processes of running a business are all a learning curve. Some of you may not have learnt as well as others. Although you will have learnt how to make sure your business is running, when you get to the stage of hiring employees, you’ll realise you don’t know much about business management. About how to get a team of people working together to do the work that you used to do on your own. So better management techniques could be monthly meetings to check in on your employees, even if you only have one. Get them to explore share their worries and support them. Business is always going to work better if you do.

Better Data Management

Data management becomes essential to a growing business. Filing away loose pieces of paper, and using computer systems to electronically organise files is not going to work. There are only so many folders and documents you can store before it gets too chaotic, especially for a growing business. So you suddenly require a database, and enter this alien world that you don’t understand. Which is why it’s best left to an expert. They can advise you what database will work for you, such as this oracle database compare, and support you with it along the way. It takes specialist companies who dedicate their time to data management to actually control the database and utilise it. A company can easily use the database to process and understand customer data, for example, which can then allow sales to be manipulated.

Better Social Media Management

Social media management is key to a small business. It’s usually the marketing technique of choice for a startup, and sometimes we see such poor management of it. Social media management should be daily. You should be taking time each hour to interact with customers, post to your social media pages, and gain a following. The world is revolving around social media at the minute, so it’s the perfect place to attract the right attention. It’s not something that’s going to happen in a week or two, it’s something that’s going to happen over the course of many months. Building a following takes knowing algorithms, customer interests, and the best way to make posts look eye catching.

Improve Your Customer Relationships

Customer relationships are hard to maintain. Once you get on a path of creating problems with a few, the bad reviews come flooding in, and your company suffers because of it. So, to improve customer relationships, you need to focus on building rapport beforehand. Customers need to know that you’re interested in something other than a sale. If all you’re talking is numbers and products or services, you’ll fail to build solid relationships. If you learn about their lives and take an interest, they become long term customers. It’s simply what’s needed to build basic human relationships, let alone a customer to business one. Loyal customers are the backbone of a growing business.

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Make Your Business Look and Feel More Professional at Any Time

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When you open up your business, that is only the beginning. From then on, you’ll be continually working to improve your company and push it to new heights, as well as maintaining an appearance that is presentable.

How people look at you and your company is crucial to its success. If all that the public sees is a kid running a store, it will be hard for you to make any progress. Instead, attractively present yourself and your company, and you’ll gain the much-needed respect you need.

Take a look at the following five tips to help you make your new company look and feel more professional.

Invest in Your Location

Where you conduct business will speak volumes. The location should reflect what your business is about. If you are planning to dominate a specific field and be the leader in the industry, you’ll want to have an office location that is powerful. If you have clients coming over and you’re in your parent’s basement, it will be hard to gain any respect.

When you walk by skyscrapers downtown, it’s hard not to think anything less than authoritative about them. The COMMECIALCafé study on skyscrapers shows how they’ve changed over the years. Your business location will help you feel more professional.

Create a Business Website

Every business should have a website. With the internet running the world, people are likely to check out your business’s online profile before physically going to them. If you have no website or a childish looking one, then the public won’t have a very professional opinion about you. Invest in a site that professionally reflects your company to help draw people in.

Keep Your Home Separate

It’s tempting to make your personal cell number and home address the same for your business. It’s cheaper for one, and you can keep everything together. However, you should avoid this at all costs.

A quick way to lose respect in the business world is by not having a separate business phone number and mailing address. It can also get quite confusing when have calls coming in. The last thing you want is for a customer to hear your embarrassing voicemail greeting, or for you to answer the phone thinking it is one of your friends.

Have a Business Email

Similar to having a separate phone number and mailing address, you also want to have a separate business email. If you’re still using an email you created in high school, how professional will that look when you’re handing it out to clients and potential business partners?

Instead, invest in a separate email account that is connected only to your business. It will help you stay organized, and it will add to how professional your business looks.

Get Business Cards

One of the easiest ways to look professional is by having business cards. The small piece of hard paper will go a long way for you. A business card is an excellent advertising tool that can spread your business name very quickly. Plus, when you hand someone a business card rather than scribbling on a scrap piece of paper, you’ll instantly look more professional.

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If you would want to build your own company, what would you need?

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First of all you should have an idea. The next step, I guess, would be to have a business plan. That’s more or less an estimation of what your idea is going to cost you and studying all the laws you have to obey to be able to pursue your idea. Then you are going to need investors. I think that is the hardest part. You have to convince them that you have a good enough product to give money to, but not so good, that they want to take it away from you. And that, my friends, is a very delicate line to balance.

But let’s say your dreams come true, and somebody gives you money…. Now we have an obligation to a third party. You don’t want to let that person down, that is trusting in you. The conscience comes into play. But you are hopeful, you have a good idea, and you are going to do your best to achieve it.

So now you have to look for a location. A place that can fit your idea, it’s possible expansion in the next couple of years, the right location and a cheap price. All of this should be in the business plan, as well as future customers and maybe some other stuff that is important to the idea.

Location is an aspect, that is often ignored by the general public, because they think: If I see it, everybody else can see it too. But that is not necessarily always true. We all have mediocre ideas: “they should put an ice-cream store in that corner”, “if I could, I would open a company that sells things online”, “maybe I should start a food-truck”. But please remember: who is going to be your customer? What makes that corner so special for the an ice-cream store? Why will people buy from you online? Do you really cook well enough that somebody will buy your food out of a truck?

College students may tend to observe the tendencies of technology and decide to spend a great amount of money in something like electrospinning equipment and try to be ahead of the industrial need. This is a good idea, but you have to know who you are going to sell to, what the market value is for the quality of your product, in which country, city and street you are going to make the most sales and how you can make people notice you.

Then again, your idea doesn’t have to be a business idea. It can be more abstract: “ I want to change the name of my street”, “I think smoking has been criticised enough”, or maybe something like “I wish I could send all my leftovers to a third world country”. Those dreams are a little more difficult to follow. But the plan starts in the same way: Make an estimate, what it is going to cost you and study all the laws you have to obey to make your idea reality.

Now the first thing people will turn to is the internet. What can I find online, that will tell me how the state of the market is. My guess would be: nothing. Nobody really advertises their needs and advantages online. They do it in person. And you can’t look up the laws online, at least not for free. So then where do you go?

You look for the person who is most related to the subject, and you start to ask questions. This person may or may not want to hear You, but your ideas will certainly be heard. And then comes the question: is it more important to achieve your goal and let somebody else take the credit for it, or do you fear that the person who is listening to you is going to use your idea to achieve his own means, even if it is against what your idea originally stood for.

But then again, have the peace of mind that no one can ever be trusted. We are all humans, we all fail, disappoint and make promises we don’t know how to keep. But to be honest, If we don’t try to pursue our ideas, how can the world ever get better? How can we, the human race, ever take the role as the dominant species on this planet, if we know that our current state of industry is only killing other species and exploiting the planet we live on. Hopefully somebody has a dream, that will allow us to live in balance with the rest of nature.

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