Friday, August 31, 2012

Mercury Travels - Excerpts from DNA 7th June 2012

Fifteen years ago, Ashwini Kakkar entered the travel industry bidding goodbye to a career with a leading MNC. And he doesn't regret it one bit. Currently the Executive Vice Chairman of Mercury Travels, Kakkar believes that his job brings smiles and joy to people's lives. "The travel industry
is more about sharing the good times because it mainly is a people's business. The fun element of the job makes it an amazing experience," he says. Working with a travel company that has the Oberoi legacy behind it, Kakkar feels that the biggest asset of Mercury its high standard of service. For customers, journeys are meant to be safe, luxurious and personalised, and this is exactly what Mercury Travels offers. With over 70 years of experience under their belt, the company's priority towards providing excellent hospitality and impeccable service became the driving force behind their reputation. Kakkar emphasizes on the company's motto of delivery, protection and knowledge that further strengthens this reputation. The company caters to popular public figures, celebrities as well as the middle class and that's the reason why people choose to travel with Mercury. "It is purely because people trust us and have faith in the services that we provide," says Kakkar. "Our management and employees believe in three important things - knowledge of the field, protection of customers and delivery of service. Our employees have always gone out of their way to help our customers as safety is a priority," says Kakkar who has played an important role in helping out customers on many occasions. He recalls fondly how Sushmita Sen once tweeted about his staff helping her and her kids in an emergency while she was travelling. Kakkar says that the company's unique offering is their grasp of various destinations and their ability to plan a trip customised to the needs of the customer. He explains that these destinations are usually recommended according to the travel experience the customer has. For example, firsttime international travellers choose short haul destinations like Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Sri Lanka and the likes, gradually moving towards Europe and then to newer travel destinations like Alaska and South America. "Europe is always combined with a UK trip as people generally have family or friends they want to visit. Also, the comfort of language helps in this case. These trips are a combination of bus, road, rail, air and cruise journeys. So, along with  different places to visit, there are many forms of travel also involved," he says. With branches across 30 cities in India and five globally, their services are available for every kind of customer. Kakkar thus stresses on how important customisation is for their clients. "Our aim is to keep every type of customer satisfied. The elderly require more attention and care, so we plan their trips differently because they like to see things at their own pace. We call the segment for retired individuals as 'silver grey'. It goes without saying that the honeymooners require a special atmosphere. For example, in Maldives, the bungalows we provide stand on water and have lights coming underneath a glass floor. We take care of these special things so that people have a great time travelling with us".

However, in recent times, the student segment has gained importance. Students who go abroad to study, opt to travel with Mercury says Kakkar. "Later, their parents also join them and wish to travel to places around the country they are studying in. We also have student groups who travel abroad on volunteer work." The company also ensures that students get their insurance done in case they have medical emergencies. "It is of utmost importance," he emphasizes. Thinking ahead, for both the industry and for Mercury Travels, Kakkar says that travel being one of the largest industries in the world, there is no limit to growth. The company has the best technology possible and nearly 400 employees, dedicated to maintaining the best standard of hospitality. And with convergence technology showing its magic, the experience is only going to get bigger and better. He believes that his personal growth runs parallel with that of the company. And, the Vice Chairman is himself a travel enthusiast. He says, “The more you travel, the more you realise how little you've travelled." And with those words, he departs for Shanghai.  

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