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Tours Move Beyond 'Been There' with On board Experts

Tours Move Beyond 'Been There' with On board Experts

  • 13 Jan, 2016
  • The Economic Times


BENGALURU: Dr Ranjani Rao, 38, an Electronics City-based dentist, foodie and travel junkie, has been there, seen it. She has done preplanned travel packages, solo trips trips with large groups and also travel meet-ups.She now seeks a travel plan that is experiential, fun, personalised and informative. So, her next trip - to Peru in April and centered around food - will be with a group of 6-10 people. This time, her group is taking their food guide along.

"With an expert, we can dine with local families, have conversations with local chefs and learn how to cook like them," she said. "Homework by the expert ensures that even leisure spent productively as per local culture. This is the kind of travel I want to do henceforth."

Why travel with a guidebook when you can travel with the person who wrote it is the new mantra many Bengalureans are adopting. A whole new segment, the expert-led intimate travel, is born and food, archaeology , wildlife, art, nature trails, adventure, art and photography are among the most sought-after.

Gauri Jayaram'sActive Holiday Companyorganises all these plus expert-led marathon and cycling tours. "These trips do not come cheap and travellers who opt for them are connoisseurs. They get into details and technicalities and ask pointed questions. Since they cannot be treated at par with tourists wanting to tick destinations off their bucket list, a specialist is a must."

Software engineer Sathish Ramakrishnan travelled solo in search of new archaeological discoveries. Then, he came across Carnelian, experts in heritage tours. "We had a conservation architect who told us about monument preservation. We cannot know this on a regular trip." He travelled to Avani, Chitradurga and Lepakshi recently.

Meera Iyer of Carnelian leads 12 trips every year. She said that challenges can be logistical - going to lesser-known places in the shortest time with least discomfort. "Also, experts have to be more discerning on where to take people and what would fit into the trip's theme."Vikram Ahuja, director, Byond Travel, is launching his first expert-led tour to Brazil and Machu Picchu in April with celebrity actor - writer Rubi Chakravarti leading the group. "Experts allow us to get the finer details right. Being with the group throughout, experts develop a bond that is far deeper than any local expert can provide."

SaidHari Nair, CEO, Holiday IQ: "Right now, it is in a niche stage and a little unorganised. More people opting for it and sharing feedback online will create stronger content for future travellers and lend experts more credibility."

Tech-savvy travellers seeking bragging rights on social media are aiding the momentum, he added.