The Travel Therapist aims to take you to the road less traveled
A staunch believer of the fact that travel is more of a recurrent necessity and a therapy to the soul rather than just a leisure activity, Aseem Hattangadi, Founder at The Travel Therapist aims at curating highly personalised experiences for the clients with an idea of going beyond the regular. Well aware of the fact that the travel start-up space is too crowded to step in, he didn’t hesitate to take the plunge, creating a room for innovation. Giving many more reasons to our readers and avid travellers on why travelling is an ultimate therapy, the dynamic founder, frames how the imaginative seeds he had sown, turned out to be the blossoming start-up specialising not just in crafting the tailored itineraries but also in creating the travel stories to be cherished forever
By Gagneet Kaur
“In today’s day and age, when stress has become a way of life for us, we need something that helps us soothe those frazzled nerves. That’s where The Travel Therapist comes in,” states its official website. The travel counsellor in a true sense, Hattangadi feels that travelling is a treasure, a treat and more than what we term as routine tourism. Assisting people escape the harsh realities through travelling that lies beyond the idea of a usual vacation, The Travel Therapist was incepted in June 2019 with an idea of not just bringing people closer to the concept of experiential tourism but also providing an ultimate way of enjoying travelling as a sheer bliss, further sparking the sense of wanderlust in them. “The idea for the Travel Therapist was born when I saw an article in the newspaper titled ‘Travel is a Therapy’ and the thought just stuck in my head. I pondered over this and realised how true this is! We seek therapy in a relaxing massage, a counselling session or spending time with our pet. However, when you travel, you unwind, free yourself from routine and generally allow the happy hormones to take over. This is when I thought of establishing my company-The Travel Therapist,” Hattangadi starts on a positive note.
“Let’s face it, all of us are living in an extremely competitive age where stress levels are at an all-time high and we don’t realise when we need to slow down. It’s alright if we go on a holiday or take a break from all of this and come back refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated. It is very unfortunate, that most of us do not sit down and think whether a specific destination really suits your style of travel or whether you like it, you simply go with the flow and tend to succumb to the herd mentality. Keeping in mind that the travellers insist more on choices, The Travel Therapist specialises in customised, tailor-made holidays and experiential travel. We curate experiences that are a combination of the regular itinerary in a particular destination, along with unique and bespoke experiences. For instance, everyone knows about the regular itinerary of Sri Lanka, which includes the traditional attractions such as Bentota, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy and Colombo but we offer something out-of-the-box, including experiences like watching the wildlife in Yala and Wilpattu, whale watching at Mirissa and private cooking classes. This, in a way, would not just stamp your passport but the experience that you take along would completely change your perception about that particular destination,” he adds.
Setting for smooth sailing ahead, Hattangadi shares his focus and targets for the company, “I am not in a hurry to set the cash registers ringing! What I want to focus on is helping people have memorable experiences when they travel. At The Travel Therapist, our relationships with – customers, trade and other stakeholders – are of prime importance. We want to hear our clients out, understand their thoughts before we create an itinerary as opposed to having pre-planned packages like any other company. We would also like to focus on promoting and selling off-beat destinations, both domestic and international.”
He further emphasises, “Technology if used positively and smartly, can always work wonders for you and your business. I am a big believer of this; hence I have got the social media accounts activated for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mostly from the point of awareness and promotion of my brand. Going forward, I would like to invest some time in a digital marketing course to effectively use SEO (search engine optimisation) to promote my website and make sure that my company gets maximum traction. Just like a few renowned companies that have made their mark as a travel company in their respective communities, I would like to do the same when it comes to individually curated holidays. I understand that it is an ambitious thought but I believe that it isn’t impossible.”
Understanding the need of the today age traveller, Hattangadi says that the ideology behind running a travel company should not be offering the run-of-the-mill packages but to create exceptional experiences for the clients, right from the time a holiday is planned. Since the traveller is not looking for the cookie-cutter options, Hattangadi is of a belief that meeting the client in person, understanding their preferences, laying the groundwork while giving them more experimental choices and crafting the itineraries accordingly, can help travel brands gain and keep customers for life. “The way I add ‘personalisation’ to my services is very simple; make sure that you meet your prospective client personally at least once ideally in the beginning so that they know who they are talking to, they can put a face to a name and an ice-breaker session has been achieved. Create an itinerary or a travel plan accordingly. Get their approval and then present them with the quote,” he asserts.
With over 15 years’ experience in the travel industry, Hattangadi not just brings a unique set of skills to the table but is also a self-employed vagabond, committed to pushing the company’s growth graph to the next level. “One needs to rethink, reinvent and repackage oneself as a travel agent or tour operator to focus on the strengths and work on what part of this dynamic world of travel would they like to specialise in. As the captain of the ship, I would like to stress on the fact that values, morals and ethics will always be of prime importance at The Travel Therapist. We want to create a work culture that thrives on positivity and learning and I am confident that business success will follow,” he accentuates.
Every entrepreneur dreams about making it big but that doesn’t mean one has to start big. In fact, to scale, Hattangadi said one needs to keep the process simple and the focus renewed. When asked about what his therapy of success is, Hattangadi specifies, “My mantra is to keep the client’s way of functioning simple and uncomplicated. One thing you shouldn’t do is take your clients for granted and underestimate them because I believe in one saying ‘You learn something new every day’ which then keeps the thinking channels open and there is a lot you can learn from your client, instead of being restricted. At the same time, do not let them take you for granted and from the beginning make sure your lines of communication are crystal clear and well documented.”