For the travellers, Greener Pastures provides a doorway to a very special and splendorous part of India.
SupportBiz presents an exclusive interaction with Vaivhav Todi, co-founder of Greener Pastures.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
What is the background of the founders?
Greener Pastures was established by Neil Barooah and me. Both of us were in Bangalore before starting Greener Pastures. I had completed my graduation in Business Management and had begun a job, while Neil was managing a rock music store.
How did you come up with the idea of starting this venture?
The idea was already somewhere there. Growing up in the north-east, both of us were aware of the potential of tourism in the region. We always wanted to come back to our roots in Assam and do something positive. Being travel enthusiasts, tourism, though new to us, seemed like a viable and attractive option. We did some research, and found that ecotourism plays a huge but silent impact in the sustainability of the world's natural and cultural richness. That got us working.
What are the different kinds of tours that you organise?
There are plenty of experiences we offer. For instance, wildlife tours, cultural tours, treks, general tours, white-water rafting and angling trips, tea tours, festival tours and river cruises.
Who are your target customers?
We focus on both domestic and international travellers from around the world.
How do you market your business?
We have been using social media, which has been particularly helpful in generating awareness for our business. Newsletters have also been quite helpful. We have also tied up with a few leading travel agents from India and abroad for B2B leads. At the moment, most of our customers come to us organically, through our website and word-of-mouth publicity, which is great for us.
What is your USP? What sets you apart from competitors?
Apart from our dedicated passion for conversation and sustainability, what sets us apart is that we provide the hospitality of a friend, the knowledge of a local, the service of passionate experts, and an escape to an unexplored paradise. Also, North-east India in itself is a USP. It is a land everyone is intrigued about. There are so many people who want to visit the region, but the lack of proper information often acts as a barrier.
Moreover, the best way to deal with competition is to forget about it. At Greener Pastures, we strive to improve our services and excel in what we do.
Tell us about your tie-ups with international tour operators.
What was the initial investment required to start The Greener Pastures? How did you arrange for it?
There was not much initial investment. We started out with Rs. 1.5 lakh, which was raised from family and friends.
What are the major challenges that you face?
The biggest challenge in the tourism industry is to get noticed. There are thousands of tour companies which are well established and have a lot of resources. This makes it difficult for small enterprises like ours to compete with them.
Another challenge is to change people's perception about North-east India being unsafe. Yes, there are a few places where hostility is present, just like any other place in India. That said, there are so many more places in the region which are perfectly safe, and which deserve to be recognized for their splendour.
What are the major factors that drive growth for you?
As of now, travel and tourism is one of the largest industries of the world, fuelled by the increasing trend of more and more people wanting to travel the world, visit known and unknown places. In short, the world has become smaller or, rather, more reachable. We are a part of this growth.
Other than that, the fact that we are based in North-east India is a major factor in our growth. The region, which only a few years back seemed too far to access for most people, has, in recent years, seen popularity, safety, and more accessibility. People today are intrigued by the region, and desire to explore the secrets that lie here.
What are your expansion plans?
We want to focus on marketing, both us and North-east India as a travel destination. We are considering tie-ups with other major businesses for the same. Then, we want to start some really awesome trademark treks and adventures around the region. In keeping with our sustainability policy, we want to start community-driven projects such as accommodations and experiences. Somewhere down the line, we also want to get into the hospitality industry with eco-lodges or something similar.
What have been your major learnings from business?
The key to a successful enterprise is dedication. Hard times would definitely come, but one must not give up. Other than that, there has to be a passion and desire to excel in the profession of choice.
How is travel in India changing? What are the major trends that you are observing?
Travel is growing well in India at the moment. More and more people are today looking to travel around India and other countries. People are ready to spend for quality services. Indians today want to explore both touristy and off-beat places. They are ready for new experiences, be it in adventure, wildlife or rural tourism. This is quite evident in the fact that many of our guests are Indians, but mainly from cities.
How do you think the industry will grow in the next couple of years?
The industry will definitely see growth in the hospitality and infrastructure part. Many travel destinations around India are becoming popular, which will lead to the requirement of entrepreneurship in various aspects.
With instability in the climate increasing, environment-friendly practices would surely be a factor worth considering in tourism. This is because more and more people are becoming conscious about preserving the planet.
Corporate Website: Greener Pastures