Samit Ajgaonkar, Founder & Managing Director, Cruisemeout.com
Samit Ajgaonkar is the Founder & Managing Director of Cruisemeout.com, an online travel portal dedicated to all the cruise travel needs of the Indian traveler. Samit holds a Masters graduate in International Hospitality from Auckland University of Technology, he specializes in the field of Operations, Sales & Marketing. Starting from the hospitality industry to Finance & Telecom, his experience has transformed this newest venture Cruisemeout into a reality.
In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Samit says he believes that the best way to balance one's life is by taking a vacation every six months
What is the idea behind Cruisemeout.com?
Travelling on a cruise-ship is definitely not a part of your day to day life, unless you work on one. The perception has always been that it is an expensive proposition and cruises are only for long vacations. The other problems most of the travellers face is, lack of information and lack of options, etc.
Cruisemeout.com, an online portal that specializes in cruise packages, aims to be a one stop shop for all an Indian traveller, for all their cruise holiday requirements. The whole idea behind this project is to ease the process for guests, especially for the majority of Indians, who are new to the cruise holiday industry. In our country, first impression is very important for us to enter into a proposition. For instance, when a traveller visits a travel agent who may or may not have all the information when it comes to cruise travel holiday, the resources and time are wasted and a negative perception is formed on both the travel agent and cruise travel. At Cruisemeout.com, we aim to bridge this gap; we source for information all even without receiving a query beforehand just to be ready and make a great first impression over a customer.
How are you different from others?
There are many travel agents in India, and more than that there are Online travel agents (OTA), no doubt about that, but the number of OTA’s who offer cruise holidays are quite few and someone like us who focus on cruise packages only, you couldn’t even find a handful. Whereas many would opine that it’s only one market and less to cover, I dare to think otherwise. India is evolving and the scope of cruise holidays is rising. Focusing on one aspect of travel that is on the verge of booming, allows us to be better in that area. For instance, when we get a booking query, we don’t just sit and provide options that are available. We get in touch with our customer and get to know them better. Once we achieve that, we source for and provide the customer with various different plans, options and itineraries, which fit their budget and match their preferences. We strive each day to plan a better experience for our guest and we feel that is what makes us different. As I mentioned earlier, making the best first impression is essential, because that is when the customer puts the faith in you and you need to put your best foot forward to impress and win the customer.
Any expansion plans?
As of 2017, the Indian government has put their foot forward to boost cruise tourism in India. The ports are being built and developed in Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore and Kochi. Once these ports are developed, India will have fully functional cruise travel hubs that are similar to airports in our country. This ensures the growth of both inbound and outbound cruise tourism in our country. Hence we are more focused in inbound and outbound cruise travel in India, which is seems to be growing at a very high pace and will continue to do so for the next 5 to 7 years. Since our operations at this point wouldn’t require us to grow physically we will be launching our portal in a couple more countries by 1st quarter of 2018.
Your vision for the company?
Our vision for the Cruisemeout.com is to not just be another online travel portal; our business model is built open providing human interface over the web. We look at cruisemeout.com as an online cruise travel partner who assists the traveller right from the beginning to the end. We try our best to ensure that the traveller is ready for their cruise; we assist with every tiny detail of cruise travel and to provide quality service each day to make cruisemeout.com a trusted cruise travel partner for the future.
Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
Since we pride ourselves to be a portal that provides a human touch-point over the web, we aim to be a larger company by investing in people rather than great online webpage development equipment. We aim to expand in terms of man power to cater to a larger audience each year in a systematic manner. Considering the amount of leads we receive and work according to our plan, we see ourselves being a larger company catering to various needs to cruise travellers in India as well as other nations worldwide.