Building an Early Foundation:
When I began my career I was tempted many a times to make a switch to Journalism or to some other choices I had, but the travel-bug in me kept me glued here. Then the corporate world has its own blues like boredom, monotony, bad bosses, office politics, extended hours, deadlines and what not. If one overlooks all this and stays focused, which is what I did, then it becomes a norm and the attention diverts to the perks that the job brings. I even had to miss many Diwalis & Holis as they always coincided with International Travel Marts in Europe. Family life also took a backseat due to constant traveling but end of the day, everything was worth it.
Following your Passion amid Work Life Balance:
Since I was a child, I was bitten by Travel Bug and would regularly go on treks in the Himalayas. Later, when it came to choosing a career, Travel was the only choice. I was fascinated by Travel Magazines such as National Geographic and often dreamt of flying to different continents and exotic places. Thanks to my career choice, most of the dreams did come true. Taking weekends off on overseas sales trips helped me tick off many unique places from my bucket list.
Magnificent Shift towards Entrepreneurship:
I guess all of us need to experience the corporate life, but to a certain extent. It does teach us discipline and order. I worked with Indian; Swiss & German travel giants where travel was heavily structured and systems driven. I had decided long ago not to work a day after I turned 50. The plan worked extremely well, albeit late by just a few months. For three decades or more I promoted India as a tourist destination all over the world and the excitement of selling the world under my own venture, OFFBEAT TRAVEL, expedited the move. I focus now only on far flung places, which are still untouched by hordes of tourist and are meant only for the discerning traveler.
Making Travelling a full-time Profession:
In good old days, I would go backpacking and stay at YMCA and YHAI in Europe for months at a stretch. I was never into history & culture, so while others would visit Big Ben and Eiffel Tower, I would explore a forest or go on a nature trail. My love for outdoors evolved into an interest in birds & wildlife and camera came along to capture the stunning creatures. Since then there has been no looking back. Till date I explore a place for its green outdoors either on foot or on a bicycle. And since Travel is a good educator, one learns to travel economically too.
Impact of Covid on the Travel Industry:
Travel & Hospitality has been the worst hit industry and it is estimated that 40% of the travel companies will have to shut their shops permanently if travel doesn’t revive in next 6 months or so. The way things are shaping up, there seems to be no hope for INBOUND traffic till last quarter of the year. Same can be said about OUTBOUND too as Indians will also wary of traveling to other countries till a vaccine is available. Only ray of hope is in DOMESTIC travel but it’s a difficult area to get into, especially for newcomers since it is dominated by OTAs (Online travel agents). To be future ready, companies will have to be asset light, move to smaller offices, embrace technology and have majority of their staff working from remote locations.
Dealing with Burnouts in the New Normal:
I feel productivity will increase now and companies will find it convenient in the long run. Not only will this bring their infrastructural costs down, it would also mean a lot of saving of commuting time and money for the employees, who will be able to use their time more effectively. The situation will also allow the employees to take breaks more often and carry their mobile office with them wherever they go. My advice is not to lose grip on de-stressing by continuing to immerse oneself in outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, walking, birding or simply practicing yoga & meditation.