By Sharavan Gupta.
While I was growing up, I always knew that someday I would join my father in the travel business. My father never insisted on joining him, but the story of how he built the company from scratch always inspired me and does so to this day. There were moments when I would question myself on this decision, not because I was sceptical about the business but because I was armed with a degree from a leading business school in the US and was going to work in a travel agency. However, I was keen to give it a shot. When I started, the focus was only to learn about the business. I always believed that if I have to build a large and successful organization I had to first understand the nuances of the business and the industry.
When I started, I was a salesman, operations’ executive and tour manager, and played these roles at the same time. This initial experience coupled with invaluable insights and guidance from my father was a great foundation for me. He gave me the courage to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them.
In 2003, my father passed away. This was the biggest turning point in my life. He was an icon and larger than life personality, a pioneer in the industry and a much-loved leader for his employees. The responsibility of running the business, finances, etc was one mountain to climb, but more importantly I was afraid that I could not fill his shoes.
As a second-generation entrepreneur I was lucky enough to inherit a successful business. My first agenda was to ensure that I preserve the business that had been built over 25 years.
I loved the business, I knew we had a very sincere team, a great brand that was built by my father and loyal customers – I had to leverage this and take the company to the next level. I also had to enjoy the journey, as I strongly believe that if I wake up in the morning and find it hard to get to work, I need to find something else to do. Given this scenario I decided to take the business to the next level.
In order to achieve this I had to hire some very talented people. You always hear that you must hire the best, but it is easier said than done. Why would the best want to join a small to medium sized travel agency in Bangalore? Though I had the vision to build a top-10 travel brand in India, I had to communicate this to potential employees who wanted to join me in this journey. Today we are fortunate to have one of the best teams in the country.
Armed with the right people and products, we embarked on a fairly aggressive growth path. Through opening our own offices and through acquisitions we have now grown to cover 8 cities in India through 15 retail locations. The Travel Tours Group now encompasses 8 distinct travel brands dedicated to specific verticals that cover the entire gamut of travel and related services.
The advantages of being a second-gen entrepreneur are that you inherit a brand, some loyal customers and employees. But in order to grow this in a dynamic industry like travel, the challenges are many. But something that I deeply believe is, “If you have the will, there will definitely be a way”. And today I see myself on that way just walking ahead, where there is no looking back.
Sharavan Gupta,Managing Director Travel Tours Group
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