‘Adventures Overland strives to become the market leader in self-drive expeditions’
Having raised its second round of funding, New Delhi-based Adventures Overland is keen to invest into a fleet of 4×4 SUVs and globally marketing its expeditions. Tushar Agarwal, Co-founder & Director, Adventures Overland talks to Disha Shah Ghosh about the meticulous planning for their road trip itineraries, growth in cross border expeditions, and upcoming departures for 2023.
What kind of scope does a niche vertical like expedition have in the Indian market?
We are witnessing a steady growth in the road travel segment, and within these travellers are opting for niche experiences. The pent-up demand has translated into good numbers in 2022. We see an increasing appetite in travellers who want to drive in diverse terrains such as Brazil, Laos, Turkey, Morocco, to name just a few, and have expeditions to cater to these routes. The defining trend we see is the rise of cross-border excursions and international road trips where people would be interested in fly-and-drive expeditions. We are already leaders in the segment and looking to grow further as the pie expands.
What is your strategy to tap this kind of adventure traveller?
While cross-border expeditions may seem expensive at first, our trips offer tremendous value propositions to travellers with all the expertise and experiences we offer. EMI options are available for travellers who wish to stagger their expenses. We offer luxurious niche packages, which include taking care of the accommodation, meals, vehicles and their upkeep, visa formalities, safety, and other travel nuances; our customised tours, fixed departures & epic journeys target different subsets.
With disposable incomes at hand and the trend of personalisation picking up, we are confident that our passion for customer service and merchandise give-away to instil a sense of belonging and focus on a time-effective route and itinerary will continue to fructify. We ensure each traveller has the opportunity to have an immersive experience and a brush with the gastronomical and cultural aspects of the destination. At times, we have even added on a few impromptu destinations as a last-minute call owing to the situation at hand, which is welcomed and truly thrills the travellers.
To execute this kind of trip requires multiple country visas and a lot of documentation. What kind of turnaround time is required for this kind of planning?
Every country and city included in the itinerary has separate rules regarding various activities, such as a valid driving licence or RC authorisation, cross-border letter and special permits for private vehicles to enter. We apply for the required permits well before announcing the trips or keep the documents ready for offline application, depending on the lead time. So, to avoid penalties or heavy fines, we need to be cognisant of all rules pertaining to documentation. The permissions and visa approval processes take time; hence meticulous planning is imperative for a smooth flow of operations. Since we have been organising cross-border expeditions for a decade now, everything is lined up, and we have a dedicated team taking care of documentation. Also, our convoy is self-guided; the travellers need not be bothered about any of these formalities even on-ground
Which are some of your planned departures for 2023?
We have a few planned journeys, the forthcoming being one to Laos, a country traversed by the Mekong River and known for its mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. This will be followed by an expedition to Iceland, a natural wonder like none other; the magical and mysterious land of lava rocks, mesmerising beaches, larger-than-life mountains, ancient glaciers and rugged fjords – indeed a country of extreme contrasts and ideal for travellers looking for a destination that offers a plate full of diversity.
Yet another exciting expedition planned is to Morocco, a picturesque country offering contrasts ranging from UNESCO world heritage sites, cultural galore and desert regions to views of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and rugged mountains with breath-taking views of the Atlas ranges. This country, home to parts of the hottest desert in the world, The Sahara desert, truly bustles with life with bespoken kasbahs and the best-known squares in Africa. This will be followed by the expedition to Jordan, one of the most iconic ancient cities in the Middle East; it shares borders with several Middle Eastern countries – neighbours being Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia and is rich with archaeological, religious and tourist sites. Our guided, small-group self-drive trips allow travellers to experience new destinations while driving in convoys. We are excited to bring a superlative travel destination such as Jordan to our travellers. They can enjoy the Jordan expedition without worrying about breakdowns, language barriers and navigating rugged terrain.
We believe in offering distinctive travel experiences to passionate travellers. Each expedition is curated keeping in mind the natural bouquet of experiences the destinations offer; each journey is an experience in itself and hence, different in its way. While travellers embark on this journey in an individual capacity, they often end up befriending co-travellers, and by the end of the trip, the memories made are unforgettable. Additionally, the thrill of a self-driven convoy-style journey across varied terrains in Land Rover Defenders or Ford Raptors makes it worthwhile.
You have recently raised funding. Tell us about your expansion plans.
As we look West, the stage is set for the second phase of Adventures Overland’s evolution. Self-drive holidays are a way of life in the US and UK. Still, there aren’t many players in the guided, small group self-drive segment that allows travel enthusiasts to drive in convoys with radio sets in each car through remote parts of the world such as Central Asia, Alaska, along the west coast of South America through the Andes or the thick forests of Africa, without any worries of break downs, language barriers, navigating through rugged terrain etc.
The funding will be deployed towards taking the brand footprint across the globe. We plan to open offices in 6 continents and invest in a fleet of 4×4 SUVs. A sizeable chunk of the funding will also be used for global marketing, infrastructure upgradation, product development, content creation, and expansion into Tier-II cities.
Adventures Overland strives to become the market leader in self-drive expeditions worldwide and build a global community of road trippers by inspiring, motivating, and engaging like-minded travellers using various platforms.