A Masters in network computing from Monash University, Gaurav Tiwari dabbled in a few things before the travel bug, in his case setting up a travel agency, caught him. With a passion for sales and marketing calibre, he has proved that in three years he can survive the stiff completion in Melbourne.
Recently when Malaysian Airways announced the 750 AUD fare from Melbourne to India, Tiwari says, “The same night I bulked SMS and emailed all my clients from my database and I was working from 9 am to 9 pm.” So he had a big sale of 180-200 tickets in two weeks. With timely action, he scripted his success story that month. And that is just part of the growth story of GT Travels owned by Tiwari.
Sitting in his modest Collins Street office, Tiwari exudes the quiet confidence of someone who has done his homework well. He is looking forward to his website which is being launched next month. “I am getting a website where people from all over Australia can book tickets as well,” he says, adding, “It will cut down man hours.”
Smart thinking for someone who was not aware of the profit margins when he started. He admits to starting the business as a hit and trial method and learning from the mistakes and gradually learning the ropes. “It all boils down to having regular clients, the service that you provide and how quick and effective you are in providing solutions to your clients,” says Tiwari. “It takes about a year for people to recognise what service you provide and then they come back and obviously you have new clients every year.”
Tiwari stresses that he has happy clients. “Because we try and assign a personalised service to every client. If you call me and have booked tickets from me, I will be handling your query so that I am always aware of what is happening to your booking. Moreover, it also builds up a relationship between the client and travel consultant. We do understand more about your needs at the end of the day.”
Hence you see why he is not very concerned about internet booking. “People who book online do not go to a travel agent and those who go to a travel agent do not book online,” says Tiwari. “There are two separate markets altogether. For instance, internet cannot provide for complex bookings, say, for someone wanting to go to Delhi with a stopover in China, Singapore or someone wanting a round the world fare – Melbourne, KL, US and back.”
Nontheless, competition is a lot, agrees Tiwari. With the growth of the Indian population in Victoria and growth in incomes, travelling to and fro Indian as well as other parts of the world offers competition to the myriad travel agents here as people vie for the best prices. Of course, every agent has different policy and different ways of making profits, says Tiwari.
The volume of travel is high during June-July, December January again, and August to October. The quietest period in the business is December-January. “It is weird how we are quiet during peak travel season but that is because people have done all their books before,” says Tiwari. His company has had a financial turnover of about a million and a half dollars last fiscal. “We are getting there,” he says.
Since he always wanted to do something on his own, Tiwari is making sure his strategy to stay ahead will work. That includes keeping clients happy and giving them personalised service and instant solutions. “Hopefully, I will grow from here,” he says. There is no reason why he won’t.
By Indira Laisram