Shalini Raj, Travel Curator and Founder @ Journey Weavers
What made you start Journey Weavers. What is your vision behind it?
Shalini Raj:- I started off with Journey Weavers with the envision to provide travellers with an experience to cherish for a lifetime. Earlier I was associated with a corporate firm, where I used to travel pan India and discovered quite a few offbeat places. A year out in the world opened my eyes to new experiences, where I embraced my gig. I took a plunge in the travel industry after realizing where my heart lies. Soon after I heard my inner calling, I quit my corporate life to start something on my own in travel.
Offbeat travel and offbeat destinations are in trend these days. Please tell us about the reason for its demand for travellers?
Shalini Raj:- A place without the usual influx of tourists crowding the sight is quite in trend these days. People prefer to visit such locations which are equally beautiful but lesser-known and less crowded such as Narkanda near Shimla, Auli near Mussourie and many more. They are the sort of destinations that push you emotionally, sometimes physically, and always challenge you mentally — all with the result of returning you from your trip with a different view of the world, and quite often with a different view of yourself. That is why some unusual, offbeat or unconventional destinations are on the radar of every traveller.
How do you differentiate Journey Weavers from the other OTAs?
Shalini Raj:- The unique part about Journey Weavers is – we create Travelers and not Tourists. We are here to weave specialized journeys as per the customer’s curation and ideology for individuals, mixed-groups, senior citizens, and all-women groups. We are here to assist every traveller for curating their exclusive itineraries. While doing so, we suggest the best ways to go about your journey from booking options to the local commuting ways and offbeat places to explore around. We not only provide travellers with premium hospitality but also make sure to give them a relaxed-back trip by organizing special arrangements for birthdays and anniversaries if any.
Journey Weavers foresees extreme focus on destination weddings. Why?
Shalini Raj:- With every passing year, Indian weddings are getting bigger and better. The trend is further expanding with the choice of newer destinations. From jaw-dropping locales to spending real bonding time with your nearest and dearest, people are more inclined towards the concept of destination weddings. Here Journey Weavers play a crucial role by helping the families in shortlisting the destination, sending customized invites, curating and finalizing the lavish themes and by getting all the work done in a hassle-free manner. It not only saves money but also allows you to plan your big day the way you want. We are the weavers who become your family member and take up all your responsibility so that you can enjoy the best day of your life thoroughly.
Trends in travelling have completely evolved after the Travelling platforms like Journey Weavers have entered the market. From booking flights to stays and meals, everything is available on one platform. Where do you think the -travel industry is heading with OTAs?
Shalini Raj:- With the entrance of travelling platforms, tourism and travel industry has gone through an overall transformation. With its assistance, now people can book their tickets last minute. The downside of high-speed Internet has allowed customers to become their own travel agents. Also, people can do pricing comparisons in a matter of seconds, and travel plans for surrounding dates and locations can be checked quickly with the help of travelling platforms. From booking tickets to stays and meals, everything is available on online platforms. Though online travel agencies (OTA) have brought a lot of conveniences, along with that, there are several loopholes too-
Conventional travel agencies still command a sizable area of the travel booking industry. Their face-to-face services are what keeps them running a business and, with respect to the needs of the traveller, a far more realistic means to fix booking travel plans. Whenever you book your departure date via a brick-and-mortar travel agent, you are dealing with real people and when you are a regular traveller, it’s nice to possess a “preferred agent” to go to for travel information and advice.
Online travel agents can charge a commission on every sale.
There may be restrictive terms and conditions imposed by OTAs such as guest cancellation and automatic room reselling policies.
You may need to find a way of managing room availability across a range of OTAs, your own website, front desk and telephone sales. This can be time-consuming and labour intensive. There are software options to help you manage this.
What role do you think state tourism departments play in destination weddings? What impact has digitalization brought to the travel industry?
Shalini Raj:- While the latest technologies have evolved and self checks out and check-ins are available yet there is a chunk of masses you still trust a face, a voice and would want you to go on believing. We at journey weavers sell concept, experiences. We don’t sell hotels and flights alone with every booking there comes a responsibility. Each traveller has trust in us, what they needed at any point in a foreign land. The Journey Weavers team works on building confidence with interaction and all this would not have been possible if digitalization was not a part of it. Facebook, Instagram has made work a lot easier for us.
India is the next destinations for weddings. Mam, please tell us about the key factors which are giving a hike to destination weddings in India?
Shalini Raj:- Indian destination weddings are catching woo across the globe. Big Fat Indian wedding which is unfathomably large and warm hospitality for the wedding guests with all the customs and rituals, colourful ornamentations all-around catch the attention of the whole world. Specially NRIs who are living in abroad, want to feel the fragrance of motherland again and exchange their vows in India.
The key factors for it are
Rich Traditions and Wedding Rituals
Grand and mesmerizing Wedding locations
The aroma of Delicious Indian Delicacies
The tradition to celebrate a wedding like a grand and lavish festival with the whole family and all the near ones
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