Tag Archives: LTC packages

The Year that was 2008: In Retrospect and Ahead

Please forgive me for writing this post quite a bit late and to be honest, in haste. As I am caught up in a lot of stuff that require my attention as and now I try to “peacefully” string up a few thoughts to put 2008 in perspective. Actually there are quite a few things to share about the year that was 2008.

The first thing that comes to mind is the Sales figure. As compared to 2007, we have registered almost double the sales. Considering the times we are in this is a remarkable feat! Surprisingly December, (Post 26/11) the fag end of the year was our best month that gave a boost to our sales.

Conversion of the leads is another area that has shown a tremendous progress. Our self made itineraries really caught on the attention of FITs (fully independent travelers). As a result conversion percentage is better and the numbers doubled.

Talking of Packages, there is a paradigm shift in the way they were organized. Better research, more budget hotels, and better places and voila! The results are just astonishing. We sold Kerala, like never before. Varkala, Bekal, Munnar, the Backwaters went on a spree. LTC packages for Port Blair and North East, a relatively late entrant (starting August) have also brought us as a significant player in these regions. We consolidated on our traditional stronghold of Bangalore and Chennai weekends, along with Honeymoon and Pilgrimage packages all showing an upward trend.

With 20 travel guides already live, Content is moving into new realm. Written from a budget traveler’s perspective the focus is on hot selling destinations. To encourage community participation there are options of photo uploads and comments on each page. The destinations virtually crisscross India with Katra, Corbett, Varkala, Manali etall. The year also marked the opening of our first retail outlet at Rawatbhata Kota on 26th October. Our travel voucher as a product has been established in the market.

Internally IndiaHotelReview.com – IHR has made quite a few structural changes, the UI of the site has been given a new look with more value additions. QnA with city experts and local guides has really taken off. Inspite of our limited branding through SEO, share of the market pie is getting better and bigger. Customer Support service is much organized now with transparency and increased level of customer friendliness. There is a drastic change from 2007 when we were just 1 year old.

Last but not the least the ambitious plan of Business development initiatives taken in 2008 harvested rich dividends. Not only we could get in the photographs of the hotel accommodation but it also helped in assessing the exact position and improving the communication with the hotel fraternity. This sums up our gains in 2008.

Looking ahead 2009

For the year ahead IHR plans to grow stronger and more focused. If 2008 was all about Sales & Community, 2009 could be the year of Community and sales in that order. Finally, you are as good as your team and that is what separates the boys from the men. Best Website of the year in pocket, Team IHR is the winner and that’s what I wanted this post to be all about.

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IHR’s LTC Forays

To provide more broad based services to the traveling fraternity we have decided to foray into LTC (Leave Travel Concession) packages. For the uninitiated, LTC is nothing but a facility provided by the employer both from Government as well as private sectors to their employees for undertaking travel. It is admissible to all employees in the approved scales of pay after completion of one year’s continuous service on the date of journey. Employees can generally avail the facility once in a block of two years.

LTC aka LTA covers travel for oneself and his/her family. Family for the purposes of LTA means, self, parents, dependent siblings, spouse (even if he/she is working) and children. Generally a few conditions need to be fulfilled for availing LTA like one can get LTA only if he or she has applied for leave from the company and have actually traveled. Another important condition is that LTC covers only the travel costs and not the entire cost of the holiday. That means whether you fly, hop on to a train or take a public transport, you will have to actually produce the tickets to claim your LTA. This means you are required to retain your air, rail or public transport ticket.

Foraying into the LTC sector was not an easy task as that involved making tailor made packages suited to an individual’s age, family size and list of preferences. Making available the LTC packages through our outlet at Rawatbhata was a huge challenge to us. There were two important considerations involved. First it involved making our executives understand the nuances and making little adjustments on dealing with customers directly hitherto dealt only through online mode. Secondly it was also an opportunity to make a rapport with the clients for a travel association that went a long way than a single journey.  This tantamount to going that extra mile to give some special leverage, by no means a mean task.

Our brief experience has made us aware of few things for future. Generally LTC availing people do a lot of planning beforehand and are mostly in the age group bracket starting from the wrong side of 30. Their travel aspirations are family oriented and they vouch for everything pre arranged and having more value for money (read more facilities). These observations came in good stead when we were making customized LTC packages for the North East in line with the Tourism Ministry’s boost to 8 North Eastern states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim. Certain states like Sikkim have few restricted zones for which prior permission is needed. We arranged for the permits before hand.

Arranging all these meant our executives were in their toes, to be aware of every bit of details of a place and answering the questions (sometime weird) with a Himalayan patience as they ranged from timing of the local zoo to the menu of the restaurant.

We have had our share of laughter and lighter moments during this time. One incident that threw one of our executives off guard was that one Gentleman after coming back from his LTC tour bitterly complaining that they should have told him earlier that the hotel where he put up made Puris using mustard oils!

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