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An Interview with Mr. Tapas Banerjee, Managing Director, Trinetra Tours

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SHARES

He is a man of many avatars and measures – a poet by heart, a writer, a true foodie, and, a workaholic indeed. So many facets, yet you will find a genuine human being who is passionately in love with his work, and, sincerely cares for his employees in the same fashion as he does for the Trinetra clients. We share with you an interview with our Managing Director to give a sneak peek into where Trinetra derives its attitude towards service and customizing relationships from.

1. It's been 25 years since you have started this company, how would you describe your journey?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee: This has been a roller coaster ride. The underlying trend has been a huge amount of self – growth as we crossed new frontiers every now and then. Our guests taught us many things. The most important are being patient, and, always willing to learn and adapt to new knowledge so that new strings that could be added to our bow. The nascent years were always a challenge as it was hard to just stay afloat. To give you an idea, the cumulative business that we did in the first seven years was less than what we now do in an average month! There was great pressure to be innovative, and, make our products acceptable to potential tour companies. Of course, at that time we did not have the luxury of dealing directly with customers. However, we were very fortunate that our hard work was recognized eventually. I will confess to you that in spite of hardships, I always enjoyed my vocation. The contact that I made with people was so enriching – almost intoxicating! I guess that this is that thread that continuous even now after 25 years. We will not mind not making profits on a reservation, but, the smallest discomfort of any guest would still make me wriggle uncomfortably. This business has given me a sense of identity and a face.
 
2. According to you, the journey is more important or the destination?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee: 
There is nothing called a destination. The latter is created by the limitation of our vision. We mistakenly assumed that the furthest we can see is our destination. The problem is that when we start walking towards this furthest point, more possibilities reveal themselves. The mark that we assumed to be our destination, happens to be nothing but a milestone in the journey of our lives. As long as there is life, there is a journey towards an ever-changing future. This breeds uncertainty as well as fear of the unknown. I guess, this is the best kick of my journey.
 
3. The travel business is now heavily dependent on technology, but, we assume things were not the same when you started Trinetra Tours. So, how do you cope with the changing trends of the industry and why is this important for Trinetra?
 
Mr. Tapas Banerjee: Yes please, life and times were very different in the nascent stages of our business. There was a great dependence on books and libraries to research and create tours programs. Communications were primarily through snail mail if we had to transfer a lot of information. Faxes were expensive, and, if one was not careful the phone bill associated with fax transmissions could burn a major hole in your pockets. Funnily, my telephone bill even today is just about ten percent of what it was 25 years back! Hence, the virtues of digitalisation of communication cannot be underestimated. With the drop in the prices, and, availability of multi-medium communications, there is a huge surge in the number of end customers. If we do not adopt and adapt to these new technologies, then, a massive section of our customer base would be beyond our reach. Hence, considerable investments and efforts are being made by Trinetra Tours to keep ourselves abreast with the latest digital trends so that we are there when the customer is looking for a product that we have. Gone are the days when we did outbound marketing where we distributed our information in travel fairs and exhibitions hoping that they would find a customer.
 
4. Also, how important is the role of customization and adaptability in a business like ours?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee: These are the passwords of any service business. Our business recognizes that each individual is different, and, so are his, or, her travel needs. We encourage clients to share with us as much detail as possible so that through continuous mail exchanges we are able to relentlessly customized vacation proposal. In this way, we are similar to doctors who persuade their patient to narrate all symptoms and manifestations of their illness. Only then can the right prognosis be made.
 
5. Do you have any fears, if yes how do you overcome it?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee: 
Every morning I wake up with the fear that today would be my last day. With this absolute fear in my heart and mind, I go all out to save my day. Invariably, I triumph, and, am alive to contend with the next day – tomorrow. The same drama repeats itself all over again each day. I am very scared of the future, and, would like to be under a constant state of fear. This wards off complacency, and, makes me secure any possible, or, even assumed, loose ends.
 
6. As far as tourism is concerned what do you think that needs to be changed in the India tourism scene?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee:
We need a greater role of the government in creating a better infrastructure in terms of hotels, airlines, and, most importantly skilled guides. This is woefully inadequate at this point in time. The government also needs to run massive campaigns educating people to have a greater acceptance of visitors from different parts of the country, and the world. This will make tourists feel more welcome.
 
7. You have been known to focus only on inbound business. Any plans to enter in the domestic business?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee:
I think that this is something that you would see us do in the near future. The market dynamics are changing, and, by this I mean to say that there is now a big section of aspirational Indians who are longing to undertake experiential vacations. We are in the process of recruiting staffs, and, training them to cater to this new segment of domestic business. Trinetra always believes “in –house” training of staff is a much better option than hiring trained manpower. This ensures a continuity of attitudes towards customer service. The process might take some time, but, we are sure to walk our talk.

8. As you have created so many successful itineraries, which is your favorite destination in India that you will still like to travel yourself to?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee: 
Though I am in a people business, but, deep down, I am a very private person. I would love to stay in outback destinations where there is no modern day rush, and, we could conduct our lives our own way, and, at our own pace. I would also love accommodation with a period feel that blends into the surrounding ecosystem. There are many such venues in India, and, you would now know why the Trinetra itineraries are always interspersed with such jewels!

9. How do you want to showcase your outside India tours?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee:
The Trinetra brand of service in India has been hugely appreciated by our guests. In the process, we have received an incredible sense of identity and dignity. Our approach will always be guided by a “Customer First” attitude. Hence, we have carefully negotiated agreements with partners overseas who share the same attitude and concern towards guest servicing as Trinetra does. It is this continuous thread of human service that will integrate all our tours within India and outside the frontiers of our country. We are researching unique tours that bring out for the visitor not only the major sights but, also the less known as well as unique aspects of each venue. We are painstakingly creating a new website that would showcase our international array of tours.

10. What is your vision for Trinetra Tours from 10 years down the line?
Mr. Tapas Banerjee:
I have never thought that far, but, our endeavor is to constantly evolve each day. We will accept and adapt to new challenges, and, doing so in itself changes us continually. Hence, ten years down the road, we would have change significantly, but, I cannot tell you how now.