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Tuesday, 06 January, 2009, 12 : 00 PM [IST]

Kesari: Doing it differently

Innovation in tours, packages and segments has helped Kesari Tours Pvt. Ltd. break new ground. Anita Jain examines the tactics behind the success story
Constant innovation has been the mantra for success at Kesari Tours Pvt. Ltd. When most tour operators are finding ways to cater to established segments like families, corporates, honeymooners and students; Kesari is a step ahead. It is among the few tour operators in India known for innovating in the field of tours and packages, thus building new niche markets and creating a market for other travel players. The 25-year old organisation is now looking forward to touch new heights and bring in more creative and indigenous travel concepts in India. “No doubt, the global recession has impacted the revenue streams of our company but we still look forward to a better future with cutting -edge products. In future, we will make sure that the local essence of our services and products stay alive, as this is the only thing which makes us a preferred brand for our clients,” said Veena Patil, CMD, Kesari Tours Pvt. Ltd.

Emergence of the Kesari brands
With its launch as a small travel agency in Mumbai in 1984, Kesari initially offered domestic ticketing and accommodation services. The company  ventured into the domain of  world  tours in 1992. Patil said, “During the early 1990s when Kesari was established on a domestic level, Indians started considering outbound travel. In a bid to tap the expanding outbound market, we thought of entering the space by offering various destinations of the world.” The company slowly started offering destinations of South East Asia, Europe, the Americas, Australia, Scandinavia and Alaska. By 2003, Kesari established itself in the world tours segment and then went ahead with innovation.

The company observed that Indian travellers were looking for specialised tours with exceptional and often exclusive services. Thus, it started building various niche brands targeted at niche segments. Elaborating on this, Patil said, “We thought of offering something different, something that was unheard of in the Indian travel industry but was very much in demand. Through the various brands and multi-pronged strategy, we planned to offer the required services to niche segments. This was to some extent our business plan, a strategy to make a place for our brand in the industry.”

Today, everyone is aware that the business plan worked for Kesari. Various brands like ‘My Fair Lady Club’, ‘Second Innings’, ‘My Prince Charming,’, ‘Students Special’, Foodies & Shoppies’, ‘Kesari Couple’ and ‘Kesari Sports’ are well-known in the market for the niche offerings and innovative packages. To further enhance the experience, Kesari has also started special division for segments with high demand.

In 2007, the company received the Abacus International Award for excellence in customer service using technology in India. If there’s anything that has been constant for the company, it is change. “We are always adapting ourselves to the changing trends in the Indian travel industry. Earlier, we use to suggest a travel destination to the client, nowadays that’s hardly the case. Most customers just require our assistance; they are well-versed with destination and its offerings,” said Patil. With the introduction of various niche tours and specialised divisions, the company, currently, is focusing on building travel communities in the country, an initiative that is expected to redefine tourism in India. This is the reason the company claims that it receives about 70 per cent repeat clientele.

0130_insightstrategy_2.jpgMoving ahead with innovation
Kesari recently renovated its portal offering more ease and comfort for clients to search and book various packages online. On the website too, the brand has innovated in the process of billing system. The main idea behind offering the billing option on the home page is to enhance experience of our repeated clientèle informed Patil. She said, “This is just one of our ways to enhance the billing process for our clients.” The online payment options are now operational for the end consumers (introduced last month).

Today, the company believes in doing things ‘differently’. Patil said, “At Kesari we are not happy with what we did yesterday, we are constantly looking for various innovative ways that can enhance the travellers’ experience. We are more focused on quality instead of competitive pricing.” In keeping with its expanding horizons, the company is also receiving offers for Joint Ventures from domestic, as well as international tour operators.

Marketing it well
With various divisions under the same roof, it is next to impossible to bundle everything in a single marketing campaign. Kesari makes sure that only a single division is focused upon a single campaign. According to Patil, the best way to pass a clear idea of a tour to the end consumer is sending out a focused message. She said, “We have various promotional activities running through various divisions at the same time. Each division has focused campaigns and right target audience.” For instance, the students’ division of Kesari is currently running an ad campaign for a fixed students’ tour where Darsheel Safary – a child actor- says ‘Taare Switzerland ke Zameen Par’. At the same time, Strawberi Holidays, which focuses on the FIT segment, is promoting special packages to outbound destinations. The tag line of its campaign for the honeymoon segments says, ‘Beat Recession. Save the water, share the tub!’  

There are times when Kesari also has a standard campaign promoting all the divisions at one time. This is done specially when the company comes out with a common offer or scheme pertaining to all divisions. For instance the latest ad campaign reads, ‘Kesari Ki Tour Agle Saal, Fayada Hi Fayada Is Saal’ aimed to receive advance bookings for the next year. Explaining the core of marketing strategy for Kesari, Patil said, “The most important thing should be the right product mix, targeted at the right audience, at the right time with the right pricing structure. Brand name is a secondary thing for any consumer in India to buy a product.”
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