November 21, 2014

Footprint, a luxury travel company that creates exclusive holidays driven by credible expert knowledge and experience, says its Director, Uma Krishnan.

The company was started six years ago, informs Uma Krishnan while admitting that the concept was quite new in the first few years. “We strive to create memorable holidays for every customer. We experimented on friends and families. The knowledge and expertise were built in the last three years after working on it.”

She tries to find something interesting instead of the run-of-the-mill places every time she travels. “In the first two years, I was a full-time banker. In the past three years, after the initial learning happened, everyone in the team has travelled consistently. 80% of the places we send our clients to are looked at by us.”

While every other organization of every kind under the sun hypes itself on the point of delivering customized services or products, Footprint Holidays is unique in the sense that there is no pre-prepared package at all. Uma says: “The word ‘tailor-made’ is clichéd. We have a different query from every customer with different likes, dislikes and preferences. Some have a passion for photography; few others like art or cooking. Some members in a group may have overriding interests like hiking and other outdoor activities while others may want horseback riding or would want just a sit-down for a vacation.”

So, what the company recommends to them could be a combination of activities for a family with members of slightly distinct choices. Each itinerary is a process of co-creating holidays with our clients. People love researching and discussing with us as we lend our travel knowledge towards helping them decide on the itineraries.

For instance, for a group visiting Mongolia, we offered horseback riding with the help of a Conde Nast-certified guide from the USA. For someone who wanted a diving experience, we recommended Oman instead of the usual places like Koh Samui or Mauritius. We suggested a night diving activity in Oman for the first time. So, before sending the client, our teammate visited the place; of course the end experience that the client will have will be different.

We have acquired travel expert knowledge based on the research of our entire team. Plus, one will also have a one point contact from the time one approaches us and till the time he or she returns from the holiday. Most holidays are self-made and the guides join them on the other side. But, if the group is very large then our team person accompanies them, so also if similar interests groups such as golf, cooking and art enthusiasts come together.

Every single holiday has a personalized brochure that we put together with a pictorial and the name of the customer. We also add restaurant recommendations and events that are taking place in the destination at the time of their visit.

Now we feel we are actually ready to promote our services. A lot of our satisfied customers are willing to vouch. We have taken a lot of painstaking trouble for the details. We work very closely with National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) and we get good references from there.
We consistently pull out different kinds of marketing materials. Our customers are largely in Chennai but we are getting clients from Coimbatore, Bangalore and Mumbai as well as from overseas. Most of them are from word-of-mouth besides referrals. We are going to re-launch our website shortly.

We look at a combination of experiences. For instance, if a couple wants to go to a wildlife place on their honeymoon, we would recommend the Galapagos Island, Bali or Canada as against the customary places in Africa. There is a green school in Bali with lush surrounds; anyone interested can visit there. Once can choose Myanmar over Thailand. When one of them chose to go to Budapest, we recommended Florina.

We are a premium holiday company and cater to the niche segment. We also target well-travelled people who look at different holiday experiences. We have to really execute the whole itinerary prudently; a lot of them belong to the older age group – those who have retired and still have the energy to travel.

Popular places
In Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana are very popular among our clients, so also parts of Europe like Spain and Italy. In Asia, Cambodia and Vietnam have been a favourite while New Zealand has emerged popular in Australasia.

Sample itinerary
We would like to suggest that a less complicated itinerary would work best as against cramming too much into one’s package; one or two locations would be good enough. It is important that the client is clear on what they like and would want to see. The location of the accommodation is, undoubtedly, very important as you get a feel of the place.

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