Founded in 2010 in Atlanta, Discover Destinations is an incoming tour operator, catering to the unique needs of the Indian traveler and the finer nuances to make travel to the United States simpler and hassle-free. TTJ spoke with Umang Malbari, President of Discover Destinations, during his recent visit to India to learn more about his expectations and experiences in the Indian market and his company’s roadmap for the future.
– Gurjit Singh Ahuja
North America is very attractive for India’s travel market. The United States and Canada are primarily leading the charge and have always been high on the list of aspirations. Whether for tourism, studies, business, work or even immigration.
Nearly a five-hour flight from the east coast to the west coast, the United States is a huge geographical entity spread over four time zones. Traveling to the United States for a first-time traveler can be quite a daunting experience. Therefore, the need for local expertise to guide and support you in your endeavors makes your travel experience smooth and hassle-free.
As Umang explains, “Focusing on the Indian market was the perfect choice for Discover Destinations. I was born in India and grew up in Mumbai and moved to the USA at an early age, I knew and understood the Indian perspective and saw India as one of the fastest growing economies in the world and possibly overtaking China in terms of entries so we remain committed and focused on India as our largest source market.
Discover Destinations is perfectly positioned to handle all US travel segments, from FIT travel, family groups, MICE groups, student travel, economy travel to high end luxury travel. In its 12 years of supplying the Indian market, Mumbai was the biggest market before the pandemic, but Gujarat after the pandemic became the vanguard and now North India with the opening of the office of New Delhi led by Veena Robinson, has established a strong presence and is targeting high value activities and making inroads in student traffic, MICE and even VFR.
In terms of yield per passenger, Mumbai stands out in the FIT market both in terms of numbers and yield, and Delhi is strong in the MICE segment. Umang explains, our average FIT guests look at 10-14 day itineraries and MICE groups are typically in the 4-5 night segment targeting two cities with average spending of US$800-2000 per person. The average pre-pandemic MICE group size, which was once 80-100 people post-pandemic, has changed and sizes are now within the 30-40 person group size.
“New visas are now a big challenge with a long wait time, so the current market is mainly limited to existing visa holders. Hopefully the situation will improve both on the visa front and on the visa front. airlines and we will soon be dealing with large MICE groups of over 400 people as we have done in the past,” Umang reiterates.
Talking about their business mix, Umang explains that India is their biggest source market and accounts for nearly 85% of their revenue, but they have made rapid inroads into the GCC market, Southeast Asia. East and UK.
As a company specializing in the Indian market, the emphasis is on clearly understanding and meeting the needs of Indian customers, as a company with Indian management and a commercial presence in India, it strives to manage customer expectations and make them aware of the realities on the ground as they exist in the USA. Food is a very important and integral part of any vacation and they ensure that the food preferences of Indian customers are best suited even for FIT customers. The Discover Destination team guides customers to Indian restaurants within walking distance of their hotels and even helps with food delivery services. Their team speaks Hindi, Gujarati and some South Indian dialects which ensures a comfort zone for their clients.
Indian schools have shown great interest in student programs at Kennedy Space Center and Space Camp in Huntsville, as well as college tours, where students visit different university and college campuses to select the ones best suited to their neighborhoods. .
Talking about the growth of the Indian market, Umang is optimistic that their number will double year on year from 2023 as the visa issuance situation will soon be sorted out.