"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux

AIRDA NewsDesk

Message of the Month

September 2016

This month I narrate from a discussion I had with an extremely smart and intelligent entrepreneur from a prominent business house in Bangalore. I met Pankaj at an SME conference, during the lunch break. My chat with him gave me a new take on doing business within close-knit communities, and how tradition dictated work and social interactions.

Pankaj told me that he came from a family of business entrepreneurs who owe their success to the number of hours they work in a day. Which typically means working from 7 in the morning till about 11 at night – in other words, 16 hours a day (right through weekends.)

The more time I spent talking to Pankaj, the more I learnt about people saying NO to vacations, but YES to destination weddings – which came very close to going on a holiday.

“So, what’s wrong with going on a holiday?” I asked him, and his response did not surprise me. “Vacations are a criminal waste of time and money if there’s no larger purpose attached to it. Even my wife does not expect me to take her and the children on annual vacations - she is perfectly happy at home, looking after the family’s needs.”

“What about the children?” I asked him. “Especially during school or college vacations.” Pankaj seemed to have an answer to every question. “During a school vacation, we send the children to their cousin’s place in Mumbai. And I think they really enjoy themselves during that break.”

“So, you don’t travel together as a family, at any given time?” I asked him. “Oh yes, we do,” he said. “We travel together to attend weddings in our family circle – these are mutually obligatory.” Pankaj described 5-day events that put an entire family of 20 people or more, in travel mode. He also told me that these weddings were elaborate events – usually at a palace resort or exclusive heritage location.

“And how often do these weddings happen?” I asked him, now absolutely intrigued. “Well, we are a large family,” he said. “We could be attending five to six weddings in a year.” Doing simple math, I figured that this was a lot more “holiday” than what passionate vacation seekers managed, within a timeshare plan.

“And what about losing touch with your business when you’re at these weddings,” I asked him – I thought I had him on the mat. Pankaj’s response here was truly eye-opening. “Over the years, we have nurtured a loyal inner circle of trusted employees who handle things for us and keep us updated - this way we know what’s going on and can monitor the situation back home.”

“So why can’t you get your inner circle to help when you go on a vacation,” I asked him. “How can I do that?” asked Pankaj. “Dadaji will not approve of it. And how would I take the money out from the business to fund the holiday? And where would we go?”

Every day, timeshare marketers run into prospective customers who may not deviate from practices that have been long established. This is probably how they have always worked, and run their businesses – going for a wedding in this case was one traditional practice that had been woven into a business calendar.

So no timeshare for Pankaj Kothari – he just does not have time for it. And if someone does manage to sell him a plan, I will treat you to a fancy lunch.

I need to hear that story.


B. S. Rathor

Advisor & Member - Executive Committee

The name “Pankaj Kothari” has been changed to protect the identity of the person I chatted with, for two whole hours at the conference. He has promised to invite me to the next wedding in the family.

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