In pictures: Time Out names the world’s coolest neighborhoods

Posted by - September 24, 2018

Source: Shuttestock
IN CONJUNCTION with Time Out‘s 50th anniversary, the publication’s editors compiled a list of the world’s coolest neighborhoods to visit.
The list also coincides with a global trend of travelers wanting to “live like a local.” To do this, vacationers must look for places that don’t already feature on millions of Instagram accounts.
And luckily for wanderlusters, Time Out is revealing these hidden gems found in the world’s coolest cities.
To make the list, Time Out pulled in the help of over 15,000 people around the world and asked them what they think are the best neighborhoods in their city.
The locals were asked about the buzz of their neighborhood, new cool venue openings, affordability of accommodations, and whether it’s a good place for foreigners to visit.
But most importantly, they wanted to know if locals considered the neighborhood to be up and coming.
European cities featured heavily on the list, with the likes of Madrid’s colorful Embajadores neighborhood rocking into first place.
Peckham, London also earned a respectable 11th place which is a refreshing admission given that just a few years ago it was named as one of the most dangerous places in the UK.
But even cooler is the amount of Asia-Pacific neighborhoods which made it onto the list, with Seoul’s Euljiro coming in second behind Embajadores.
Here’s the conclusive list of Asia-Pacific’s coolest neighborhoods according to Time Out.
(2) Seoul, South Korea: Eulji-ro The neighborhood is mostly made up of printing presses, warehouses, and old-school fried chicken restaurants.
It’s also home to plenty of hidden bars and cool cafes.
(8) Tokyo, Japan: Yanaka Yanaka remains a mostly unexplored neighborhood in Tokyo.
It combines old-world architecture with artisan workshops and modern art galleries, making for a pretty cool experience.
(10) Melbourne, Australia: Fitzroy Melbourne is already known for it impressive coffee scene, but Fitzroy is striking out in its own right as an artistic haven.
(14) Sydney, Australia: Enmore Sandwiched between the equally bohemian Newtown and Stanmore neighborhoods, Enmore is a place of creativity, live music, and good cafes.
(15) Mumbai, India: Bandra West Bandra West, technically a suburb of megalopolis Mumbai, is quickly becoming the city’s vibrant, liberal center.
Its real estate potential is attracting Bollywood’s stars as well as up and coming creatives.
(19) Chengdu, China: Tangba Jie Tangba Jie doesn’t feature in many guidebooks because until recently it was a sleepy residential street, but the neighborhood’s focus on good local cuisine put it on the map.
Tangba Jie is also full of cute hotels, hidden in 1950s-style alleyways.
(29) Shanghai, China: Former French Concession The Former French Concession has been Shanghai’s coolest neighborhood for a long time.
But it still deserves a worthy mention because it’s not showing any signs of losing its street cred anytime soon.
(32) Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Prawirotaman Yogyakarta has long been Indonesia’s cultural capital and its street art scene is only getting more impressive.
The neighborhood has an ever-growing list of boutique hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and murals lining the streets.
(35) Hong Kong, China: Wan Chai Shaking off its red light district reputation, Wan Chai is now full of innovative Michelin-starred restaurants, alongside budget-friendly noodle shops and speakeasy cocktail bars.
(36) Bangkok, Thailand: Ari This isn’t the first time Ari has been recognized as a cool neighborhood.
A few years ago, trendy influencers made it the place to be. But after a while, they found other places to promote, leaving Ari in peace.
But it’s back on the scene with a bang offering new bars, cafes, and restaurants as well as cultural spaces.
(42) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Damansara Heights Kuala Lumpur has a vibrant mix of plush rooftop bars and quaint cultural spaces.
A place which combines these styles so well is Damansara Heights. So, if you’re looking for a neighborhood where you can enjoy open mic nights, bespoke cocktails, and local food, head here.
(44) Singapore: Tanjong Pagar It’s pretty hard to think of Singapore as anything other than a super clean, modern city.
But before it got this title, Singapore was a destination full of 19th-century shophouses and hawker centers.
Some of these places still exist, and they’re best seen in Tanjong Pagar, albeit with a skyscraper-filled backdrop.
(47) New Delhi, India: Safdarjung Enclave Surrounded by the leafy green Deer Park on one side and a warren of delightful shops and eateries on the other, Safdarjung Enclave is one of Delhi’s most happening — but still under the radar — areas.
(49) Beijing, China: Sanlitun Want to book a vacation dedicated to shopping? Look no further than Beijing’s Sanlitun neighborhood.
The district is a nod to the new modern China.
(50) Dubai, UAE: Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence is the Dubai of your dreams.
The neighborhood is filled with luxury shops, fancy boats, a long stretch of sandy beach, and divine restaurants.
To see Time Out‘s full list of the world’s coolest cities, head over to their site.

Namaste London: India’s OYO Hotels set to enter the UK

Posted by - September 21, 2018

OYO Hotels, South Asia’s largest hospitality chain, announced its foray into the United Kingdom, its first market beyond Asia.
The company plans to invest GBP 40 million into the UK and will look to launch in 10 cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Edinburgh in the United Kingdom by 2020. Starting operations with four beautiful properties in London that offer more than 80 rooms, OYO plans to delight customers looking for quality living experiences at affordable prices, with a selection of over 5000+ rooms in the next 15 to 18 months.
This marks its first stamp in its international footprint. OYO was welcomed in the UK, at a special event, in the presence of chief guests, honourable Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Y K Sinha and Craig Harrison, Director, Inward Investment at London & Partners.
Announcing the launch event in London, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Y K Sinha, said: ”OYO has established itself as a strong and popular Indian brand in South Asia and I am happy to see the company making a commitment to invest in creating beautiful living spaces in the United Kingdom. I convey my best wishes to the OYO team for their future endeavours.”

“Empowering the UK independent hoteliers with the technology”
Commenting on the development, Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO – OYO said: “The UK has been the topmost international travel destination for several years and last year hosted over 19 million tourists from around the world. Driven by its booming domestic and international travel and budget hospitality needs, the UK presents a multi-billion dollar opportunity for OYO. We are thrilled to now be able to offer OYO’s affordable, hassle-free and quality living experiences to guests across the UK – and to be empowering the UK independent hoteliers with the technology and operational expertise that helps them focus on customer experience and thereby generate increased, sustainable incomes”
The UK business will be led by British entrepreneur Jeremy Sanders, who co-founded the British restaurant chain, Coco di Mama. Over the next year, they will aim to build out the team by hiring an additional 100 OYOpreneurs (employees empowered to function like entrepreneurs) across the country.
Jeremy Sanders, head of OYO UK, said: “I am very excited to be leading OYO’s expansion into the UK, one of the most dynamic hospitality markets in the world. We want to become the trusted partner of independent hotels across the UK and, as we’ve experienced in Asia, we are confident that our bespoke technology and operational expertise brings real value to hotel owners and customers alike. There is so much potential here – I and the team cannot wait to get started.”
At the time of entry, OYO will offer guests the OYO Townhouse experience – perfectly suited for the needs of millennial travellers, aspiring for high-quality accommodations. These properties will be operated under models of manchise, lease with full – inventory control similar to other markets like India and China. These hotels will provide affordable and trusted living options for both Indian and International tourists, business travellers, and local city-dwellers.

Wah Taj: Fifth Taj hotel in Dubai at Deira creek

Posted by - September 20, 2018

The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has announced the signing of a new Taj hotel at the Deira Creek in Dubai in partnership with Ithra Dubai LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD).
The new Taj hotel is a Greenfield project slated to open in early 2022, conveniently positioned 15 minutes from Dubai International Airport. This hotel will be part of Deira Waterfront Development – one of Dubai’s most significant rejuvenation projects.
An urban oasis, the hotel will have approximately 200 spacious rooms and suites with a selection of rooms cantilevered over the water, with scenic waterfront views. The hotel will include all-day dining and specialty restaurants, a bar and lounge, banqueting facilities and a spa.
“Middle East is a significant market for IHCL”
Commenting on the signing of this agreement, Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO at The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) said: “The Middle East is a significant market for IHCL. We are honoured to partner with Ithra Dubai for this new hotel in Deira – the historical and cultural centre of Dubai. IHCL has a long tradition of managing marquee hotels with rich heritage links across the world.”
Commenting on the partnership, Issam Galadari, chief executive director, Ithra Dubai LLC, said: “We are delighted to partner with The Indian Hotels Company Limited and look forward to working with them to bring the iconic Taj brand to the Deira Waterfront Development in Dubai.”
Deira is a culturally rich and vibrant part of Dubai which has been part of a major international trade route since time immemorial. Some of the popular attractions in Deira include the Spice Market, Gold Souk, Women’s Museum, Heritage House and the Dubai Dolphinarium.
IHCL also operates Taj Dubai in downtown Business Bay and has two new hotels, Taj Jumeirah Lake Towers and Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai opening in late 2018 and 2019 respectively.
IHCL offers a fusion of warm Indian hospitality and world-class service via Taj – the hallmark of iconic hospitality, Vivanta with its collection of sophisticated upscale hotels, and Ginger which is revolutionising the lean luxury segment.
Incorporated by the founder of the Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata, the Company opened its first hotel – the Taj Mahal Palace, in Bombay in 1903. IHCL operates 170 hotels including 25 under development globally across 4 continents, 12 countries and in over 80 locations.

Going Dutch: KLM and Tata celebrate 25 years of innovation

Posted by - September 19, 2018

Dutch airline KLM and tech partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) marked the quarter century of working together this week.
The airline, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, was the Indian company’s first customer when it opened for business in the Netherlands in 1993.
Since then the partnership has seen the two companies work together on numerous projects together including, BlueBot – the airline’s AI-powered social media chatbot, further enhanced with Google Assistant voice implementation; a smart digital queue, which allows all KLM customers to queue “digitally” in the airport lounge; a suite of booking and reservation management mobile apps – and the ability to collect boarding passes through social media such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
“A new standard for the airline industry”
Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and MD of TCS, said: “We are proud to celebrate 25 years of partnership with KLM and congratulate them on the way they have used technology to innovate and further strengthen the customer experience. It’s an area where they have set a new standard for the airline industry. We look forward to continuing our work with them in this inspiring journey.”
Currently TCS is working with KLM to help it tap into additional ecosystems, enabling the company to partner with new travel, aviation and hospitality services. By leading KLM’s API strategy, TCS has implemented a connected API network with over 30 open APIs, offering 24/7 support and opening the door to a wide range of potential new customers for the airline.
“The best possible customer service now, and in the future”
Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM, said: “The aviation industry is going through significant change as a result of digital technology and in order to ensure we can continue our success and remain an industry leader in customer satisfaction, we need to be constantly developing the ways in which we improve our services.
We believe that technological innovation plays a key role in this, and by working with TCS for the past 25 years we’ve been able to further strengthen our business to ensure we are set up to deliver the best possible customer service now, and in the future.”

India’s ITDC goes global, inks MoU with Kingdom of Morocco

Posted by - September 18, 2018

Ravneet Kaur, CMD, ITDC and Imad Barrakad, CEO, SMIT along with tourism ministers from both the countriesIndia Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (ITDC) has signed an agreement with the Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development (SMIT) to strengthen cooperation in the tourism sector.
With the two countries sharing strong historical, economic and political ties, the signing of the MoU will further deepen their relationship, in recognition of the benefits of mutual cooperation in the areas of tourism infrastructure and promotion of tourism in India.
The MoU was signed in the presence of K.J. Alphons, the honourable minister of state for tourism, Government of India; Mohammed Sajid, the honourable minister of tourism, air transport, handicraft and social economy, Government of the Kingdom of Morocco; Ravneet Kaur, IAS, chairperson and managing director of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC); Imad Barrakad, chairman and CEO, SMIT at The Ashok, a flagship property of ITDC; Rashmi Verma, secretary to Government of India, and other senior officials from both the organisations were also present during the bilateral meeting.

Under the signing of the MoU, both of the organisations will be able to share engineering and tourism products development including new trends and technology. Additionally, marketing and feasibility studies related to the needs and expectations of investors and tourists will be shared. Structuring projects in the infrastructure space, apart from the sharing of a database of potential Indian and Moroccan investors in the tourism sector, will also be part of the programme.
“An acknowledgement of the capabilities and core competency of ITDC”
Speaking on behalf of the occasion, Ravneet Kaur, IAS, chairperson and managing director, ITDC, said: “Signing of the MoU is an acknowledgement of the capabilities and core competency of ITDC and the important role it has played in the development of tourism and related infrastructure in the country.”
The organisations will also collaborate to promote tourism investment opportunities through participation in tourism investment events, economic missions and co-organisation of promotional investment events which are of mutual benefit.

What you need to know about India’s underwater bullet train

Posted by - September 18, 2018

India’s first ever high-speed bullet train will travel underwater. Source: Shutterstock.
INDIA’s highly anticipated underwater bullet train will likely start running between the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad, with 12 stations in between, in less than five years.
The 508-kilometer, high-speed train corridor is being built with Japanese assistance, The Economic Times reported. India is set to purchase 18 E5 series Shinkansen train sets from Japan at a total cost of about IDR7,000 crore (US$965 million).
But that is not the most mindblowing part about the travel technology that the South Asian country is about to get.
While the high-speed bullet train will run at an elevation of 18 meters for most of its route — 471 kilometers out of 508 kilometers — there is an undersea stretch included in the proposed route map.
The seven-kilometer route will pass from Thane, going under the Thane Creek, to Vasai via a submerged corridor.
It is the first time a rail track is constructed underwater in India
India’s new bullet train service is similar to Japan’s Tokyo to Hakodate route which links Japan’s main island of Honshu with the northernmost island of Hokkaido via the undersea Seikan Tunnel.
Source: Shutterstock.
“Each train will have 10 coaches and would be able to cruise at the speed of 350 kilometers per hour,” The Economic Times cited an official as saying.
This means the service will reduce the seven- to eight-hour journey down to just two or three hours.
India’s high-speed bullet train is a pet project of prime minister Narendra Modi under the country’s “Make in India” initiative.
It is expected to be used by 18,000 passengers with fares between the two cities likely to be less than IDR3,000 (US$41) in economy class. Its first class will include amenities similar to those in airlines.
If all goes according to plan, the first high-speed bullet train is scheduled to leave for its first run on sometime in August 2022.

7 laws all travelers should know before visiting these Asian nations

Posted by - September 17, 2018

Getting arrested on vacation is a sure fire way to ruin a trip. Source: Shutterstock
TRAVEL INSURANCE is essential whenever you leave home and embark on a journey.
Insurance covers you for accidental loss and damage, flight delays, and medical expenses. But no travel insurance policy covers the cost of bailing you out of jail.
Which is why it is essential to know about the laws in the country you’re visiting.
While some crimes are universal such as stealing, assault, and vandalism, there are plenty of everyday actions you may take for granted.
Everything from an “innocent” game of blackjack in India to a peck on the lips in Dubai have consequences ranging from an on-the-spot fine to imprisonment.
Here are a few laws to acquaint yourself with before you travel to avoid, at worst, going to jail and at best, being ridiculed and ousted by locals.
Sri Lanka Tattoos of Buddha and selfies with statues of Buddha are banned in Sri Lanka.
The Indian Ocean island off the southeast coast of India has a majority ethnic Sinhalese population who devoutly practice Buddhism.
In 2014, a British woman was deported for having a tattoo depicting Buddha on her arm and in 2012, two French tourists were given suspended prison sentences for kissing a Buddha statue.
Thailand The easiest way to offend Thai authorities is by disrespecting the royal family, namely King Vajiralongkorn.
It is illegal to verbally insult the royal family. It is also against the law to stand on Thai Baht which has the king’s face printed on it.
The lese-majeste law was created in 2014 after the Thai military took power. The law aims to punish those who defame the royal family.
The penalty for doing so ranges from three to 15 years in jail.
Dubai Dubai is well known for its strict laws affecting alcohol consumption and public displays of affection, as a British couple discovered in 2010 when they were reported, fined and imprisoned for kissing on a beach.
However, a lesser known rule is the prohibition of dancing in public.
The act of grooving to a beat outside your home is seen as “indecent and provocative” and can land you in jail.
There are however licensed bars in Dubai where you are free to dance until the sun comes up.
Japan If you are heading to Japan and have a cold, you will need to think twice about what medication you plan on taking as codeine is banned.
Medications such as Vicks and Benylin contain codeine. If you are found to be traveling with this drug you could be put in detention and deported.
Singapore Chewing gum loudly or spitting it out in public is considered rude in many nations. However, in Singapore it is illegal.
The import of chewing gum has been illegal in Singapore since 1992 because of the mess it caused on the country’s transport system.
If you’re found importing chewing gum, you can face jail time and chewing bubblegum is still a no go.
However, therapeutic gums such as those containing nicotine or no sugar are allowed.
India A quick game of snap will not land you in jail in India, but if you start putting money on the table, you could find yourself in big trouble.
Gambling is widely restricted in India apart from lotteries and horse racing, which means poker and the plethora of other casino games are banned outside of registered venues.
Penalties for illicit gambling include hefty fines and up to five years imprisonment.
Maldives Being a primarily Muslim nation, the selling of alcohol is widely restricted throughout the archipelago.
However, the import of alcohol by foreigners is wholly forbidden.
Customs workers have the right to take any alcohol off you and not return it.
So before you relax into your vacation and begin dancing to a funky beat in a Dubai bazaar or get a commemorative stick and tattoo Buddha on yourself, spare a thought for the consequences of your actions.

The world’s most Instagrammed airports

Posted by - September 17, 2018

Airports have become more than just a place where a trip begins or ends. Source: Justin Lim/Unsplash
WE live in an age of digital connectivity and social media acceptability has progressively become one of the most important factors in choosing a vacation destination.
In fact, a study released last year by Scholfields revealed that 40 percent of the of 1,000 millennials surveyed picked a holiday spot based on how Instagrammable it is.
But many people don’t wait until they’ve summited a mountain or are laying on a powder-sand beach to update their Instagram as airline ticket provider Globehunters found out when it analyzed the Instagram mentions of airports around the world.
South Korea’s Incheon International Airport proved to be most popular among traveling #wanderlusters with over a million posts. After all, the airport has been voted as one of the world’s best airports for 12 years running.
As well as innovative facilities, Incheon International Airport also offers travelers immersive cultural workshops and exhibitions in two areas near the duty-free zone. Outbound travelers can learn how to make hanji (traditional Korean paper), among other activities, all free of charge.
Globehunters gathered its findings by searching each airport’s full name as well as location name, airport code, and airport name in its native language.
Asia-based airports claimed 18 spots on the 50 most Instagrammed airports list.
Europe nabbed 15 spots with England’s London Heathrow Airport taking the second position on the list with 557,239 posts.
The Americas racked up 17 of the world’s most Instagrammed airports including O’Hare International Aiport in Illinois with 161,768 posts and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with 95,099 posts.
Asia’s airports claimed over a third of the spots on the list.
Here’s a rundown of Asia’s most Instagrammed airports.
Tokyo, Japan: Haneda Airport – 339,376
Singapore: Singapore Changi Airport – 323,269
Tokyo, Japan: Narita International Airport – 184,052
Dubai, UAE: Dubai International Airport – 139181
Bangkok, Thailand: Suvarnabhumi Airport – 132,846
Tangerang, Indonesia: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport – 122,213
Tokoname, Japan: Chubu Centrair International Airport – 85,630
Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong International Airport – 64,216
Doha, Qatar: Hamad International Airport – 52,058
Mumbai, India: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport – 34,211
Taipei, Taiwan: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport – 30,321
New Delhi, India: Indira Gandhi International Airport – 23,955
Shanghai, China: Shanghai Pudong International Airport – 15,826
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur International Airport – 12,403
Beijing, China: Beijing Capital International Airport – 12,370
Guangzhou, China: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport – 4,694
To see the full list of the world’s most Instagrammed airports head over to Globehunters.

This is the oldest hotel in South India

Posted by - September 17, 2018

After a 22-month closure, this hotel resumes its place in the cultural heart of South India. Source:
“IF the Taj Connemara, Chennai could speak, it would tell you tales from its history, the place became a household name across the globe, for it was here where the blue-blooded indulged and entertained.”
So states the description for Taj Connemara on its website.
Housed in a building that dates back to 1854, Taj Connemara was established in 1903. A relic of the colonial era, Taj Connemara was named after the then Madras governer Lord Connemara.
Back then, most of its guests were young British men – long stay guests who traveled with plenty of personal belongings and staff.
At more than a century old, it is South India’s oldest hotel.
After going through a series of renovations throughout the decades, the hotel was officially closed on Nov 1, 2016, for a major makeover to re-create the theme of its early past.
Aiming at recreating old menus and cuisines, the renovation would retain only the Verandah and Raintree restaurants, refurbishing all the rooms, lobby and banquet halls to look more like the hotels early years.
Source: Taj Connemara.
The hotel reopened as an intimate high-end luxury hotel on Sept 12, 2018, after an extensive 22-month renovation which cost INR900 million (US$12.4 million) and involved 1,400 workers.
Today, this symbolic hotel has been carefully restored to its premier status with influences inspired by the past and present.
“Enter the grand lobby through a foyer flanked by sepia-toned memories of a regal past. The refurbished grand wooden staircase embellished with South Indian stonework pays homage to the rich design culture of Chennai.”
“Right across this, standing tall amidst the muted tones is the centuries-old brass statue of Shiva & Parvati amidst an aura of glittering deepams.”
“The original lattice ceiling complements the Carrera marbled floor which paves the way to the personalized reception desks for a quick, efficient check-in.”
Source: Taj Connemara.
The hotel’s 147 rooms and suites spread across the Tower and Heritage wings are each appointed with elegant four-poster beds, vintage prints, and objets d’art.
Sensitive preservation of the art deco façade and interiors will showcase the hotel’s original features, including wooden carvings sourced from the 16th and 17th-century temples of Mahabalipuram.
Unique for a city hotel, Taj Connemara 4.5 acres of landscaped greens and enclosed atrium gardens – something both business and leisure travelers are sure to appreciate.
“Taj Connemara, Chennai’s grande dame, is the result of the efforts of a team including master craftsmen and artisans, who have tirelessly and lovingly worked on restoring the city’s legendary landmark to create a world-class hotel,” Taj Connemara Chennai general manager Ahmar Siddiqui said.
“I look forward to extending the warm Taj hospitality to our guests.”
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Taj Connemara is located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, Chennai, formerly known as Madras.
Recently declared as a creative city by UNESCO, Chennai is enjoying its place in the spotlight for its many strengths including its cuisine, architecture, culture and musical heritage.

“We have solved the holiday industry”: TripFactory cofounder

Posted by - September 12, 2018

Ladakh, one of the destinations on offer at tripfactory.comTripFactory, the Indian holiday technology platform, is in talks to raise USD 100 million or more in a Series B round, from funds based out of the USA, China and Japan.
“The infrastructure… is missing”
“If we look at India, holidays are growing like hell,” Vinay Gupta, co-founder of the online holiday company, told me. “There are people out there who want to go on a holiday, but the infrastructure to get a customised holiday to anywhere in the world in a few minutes, with best pricing, is missing. That’s the same as we saw a decade ago.”
Vinay GuptaWhen asked what problem TripFactory is addressing, Gupta didn’t pull any punches: “What we have solved is the [whole] holiday industry to be honest; it’s nothing specific to India. What’s broken is universal because of the very nature of the structure of this industry.
“What we have done is own the customer experience end-to-end: we have built the world’s first full-stack holiday company. You get the same experience no matter where you travel in the world with TripFactory.”
The fund-raising round “We will obviously go back to engage with investors that had shown interest in us when we were fundraising for our previous venture,, namely Expedia, Priceline, Rakuten, Recruit, Naspers, Accel, Temasek, Premji and obviously other large ones who are looking to fund aggressive, global differentiated businesses which make money at unit and scale,” Gupta had said in a press release. “We are confident we can deliver a massive profitable enterprise that works globally at great pace.”
In 2015, the company had raised a little less than $10 million in Series A round with funding from Aarin Capital Partners led by former Infosys Ltd board member TV Mohandas Pai and Manipal Group chairman Ranjan Pai.
Expansion plans When asked about the conception of the company, the team said: “We asked ourselves some simple questions like ‘Why are people not buying all their holidays from Thomas Cook?’. They are a very powerful brand, they have global presence, they have capital, they have people, what did they miss… not know… or not deliver?”.
“Others are just a copy of the same 200-year-old process, who haven’t been able to attract, hold or deliver a holiday to everyone every time. They keep missing the consumer in-between… They lack control of the full stack.”
“How will you become the holiday company?”
If, as a company, you don’t know what’s possible, how will you become the holiday company?
The company is aiming to build the world’s first “full stack holiday company” – featuring deep machine learning, AI and robotics, so they can know for example which flights are delayed, which might get cancelled, where there might be trouble, and more.
The company is now aiming to “make significant investments in tech” and to build a 40- to 50-people tech team, a similar-sized product team, and bring on about 10-15 people for markets.
TripFactory said it has sold tens of thousands of holidays with “profitable unit economics from day one”, doubling year on year and that they plan to grow five times this year, especially as costs reduce through efficiency and growth, with a plan to set up distribution in 1000 cities around India.
“You cannot reach India without building scale offline,” Gupta had noted in a press release. At present, a number of offline travel businesses franchised with TripFactory have started to transact under the brand.
“Standardisation of sales, product and delivery processes”
“Apart from product, we have also set up an online and franchise base in 143 cities growing to 1000 cities so that masses who like to go speak to agents and book are also empowered,” continued Gupta. “We are bringing standardisation of sales, product and delivery processes, which is great for the customer and industry.”
The company is also partnering with domestic airlines like Jet Airways, Go Air, Air Costa and other carriers. Gupta told me the company will be opening offices in Dubai, Singapore, Manila, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hong Kong later this year.