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Friday, 29 March, 2019, 17 : 12 PM [IST]

‘We enable the entire process as a SaaS platform’

Besides making human element more accessible, BlueWander plans to expand its network of travel agency partners who share the same values, geographically, as well as types of travel says, Nishant Aggarwal, Founder, BlueWander in an email interaction with Samruddhi Chitnis.

Q When was BlueWander founded and what inspired you to create a platform for bespoke luxury travel?
A. Two of my biggest passions are travel and technology, so building a disruptive travel technology company was something I always wanted to do. I worked as a strategy consultant at Deloitte where I got the opportunity to work with many high- and ultra-high net worth individuals. It was at that time I realised how big of the market was, and also, that it is very fragmented and backwards in terms of tech maturity. This led me to establish BlueWander in July 2017, where we are building an end-to-end experience platform to truly reimagine the future of luxury travel. We aggregate the best in-destination travel agencies and DMCs (Destination Management Companies), and then match them with affluent luxury travellers and enable the entire process through a SaaS platform.

Q How was the idea of BlueWander executed? What are the key shortcomings in the conventional travel agent – traveller relationships that Blue Wander is trying to solve?
A. As for execution, our initial focus was in-depth market research and customer development. The next was conceptualising our solution to this USD-200 billion a year problem, keeping in mind consumer and industry trends, technology advancements, etc. We then decided to secure the best-of-the-best in-destination partners in the most desirable destinations (Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America). That happened in tandem with building the tech product, and a very solid advisory board and team with deep background in travel and technology. It is still in very early stages, but the product and the business model development has largely been iterative based on real feedback.

Q What kind of tools are used to bring both expert agencies and aspiring luxury travellers together?
A. There are a couple of tools that enable connections between travel experts (agencies) and luxury travellers. The ones that are available today serve just as travel agency referral networks or lead generation platforms, and do not really facilitate the process beyond that. So it remains a very inefficient and a non-user friendly experience, which now-a-days is very frustrating since we actually expect everything to be available at our fingertips. Most companies are just going for scale, where as we care most about delivering unmatched value through a combination of carefully vetted in-destination human expertise and intuitive technology.

Q What is the business model of Blue Wander as a facilitator or bridge between the businesses and consumer?
A. BlueWander is an end-to-end experience platform for luxury tailor-made travel. It is a two-sided marketplace that aggregates high quality in-destination boutique luxury travel agencies and DMCs, and matches them with affluent travellers; enabled by a SaaS platform for them to manage the planning, booking, and on-trip concierge support process. We have scalable business model that is based on transaction-based commissions on trips and monthly SaaS subscriptions from travel agencies.

Q How many agents you currently engaged in India and how do you see the level expertise and standards of service delivery of Indian agencies in the luxury travel?
A. I would say that we work with the best in terms of reputation, credibility, and proven track record. It is more about quality than quantity. Ultimately, we are looking for the most progressive travel agencies that understand the need for a change in the way they operate, given the constantly evolving consumer landscape and technology advancements. They specialise in unique tailor-made luxury experiences with unparalleled customer service, and deeply care about the customer experience. This is especially important because when we partner with them, it is more than just a business partnership. We want to co-create the technology with them based on their needs and how they see the market shifting.

Q Where does India stand as a luxury travel destination and what are your suggestions to improve India’s standing?
A. I am really passionate about exposing people to our country’s exquisite beauty, culture and history. Given all that India offers, I would say that it is a lags behind in terms of its standing as a luxury travel destination, but it is poised for explosive growth in the next 5-10 years. For travellers in this segment, it is important that the whole experience be at its absolute best. For the same reason, together with our on the ground partners, we want to raise awareness through combined marketing efforts and meaningful storytelling on how travelling to India can be a transformative experience.

Q How do you plan to expand your network of agencies and products and services in coming years?
A. We deeply believe in the human element and want to make that more accessible, but there are parts of the process that can be automated and made more efficient. Along with this, we plan to expand our network of travel agency partners who share the same values as we do, geographically, as well as types of travel. In terms of product and services this will be determined by feedback from customers on both sides of the market across different regions. This will help us stay on top of what is next to establish.

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