For some businesses, money is the key factor to success, for some it’s their product and for others it’s the people who make them what they eventually want to become. What makes any company stand out from the rest is how it treats its customers. For Talal Niazi, one of the founders of the famous tourism company, ‘The Travellers’, customer satisfaction is what matters the most. No amount of riches, respect or any other temporary pleasures, can give as great a satisfaction as the smile of a happy customer can.
We noted the insights of Mr. Niazi regarding his fondness relating adventure, the boom of his business and the tourism industry in general.
On a personal level, were you always fond of adventure yourself?
I had never been north of Pakistan before. It was in the 1st year of my BBA, when I went on a trip to Hunza with my university friends. I was honestly really fascinated by the beauty of what lied north. All my life, I had seen pictures of the north but witnessing the majestic sights was an intriguing experience on its own. From that point on, I grew very much fond of adventure.
What was the main driving force that led into the making of “The Travellers”?
The thing that really proved to be an accelerator for us, as a whole, was our growing fondness towards adventure and travel. With the passage of time, the second motivation was feedback. After every trip, the comments we received from our travelers were really uplifting for all of us. What started as a casual hobby soon became a serious running business all because of these driving forces.
Out of all the things, why did you choose to penetrate in the tourism industry?
To be really honest, I feel that a specific nationalistic passion started to grow in every one of our souls. Before really kicking off with ‘The Travellers’, all three of the partners, including myself, explored many parts of Pakistan extensively, especially the north. What really fascinated us was that most of what we had heard from broadcast media and other sources was in fact, opposite to what we experienced. I had never met more hospitable people that I met during these tours. So naturally, we felt that it was our duty to promote the tourism industry in our own unique way. We started off with only a few university students and before we could really register what was happening around us, we started arranging numerous trips for hundreds of people in and out of Pakistan, simultaneously.
According to you, what is your company‘s main USP?
Well I like to believe that what makes our company stand out is the way we treat our customers. Two of us (the owners Talal Niazi and Rehan Farooq) were never ever concerned with the profit margins of each trip rather our main worry almost always is that our customers get treated with utmost respect and face no issues whatsoever. As far as ‘The Travellers’ is concerned, the company has always valued its customers as family. Unlike other companies, we are always flexible even when we are already on tour. For instance, if the people travelling with us want to extend their trip or even want to engage in any other activity that is not scheduled already, we try our best to fulfill their wishes in every way possible.
What marketing strategies do you use to promote your company? Have they worked thus far?
In my opinion, the best strategy that really works for our company is word-to-mouth marketing. Even though our social media presence is also getting stronger each day, the benefits received from positive feedback are priceless. When someone recommends our company to their friends or family that has an unparalleled effect on its own.
What is the most exciting trip your company has arranged so far?
I remember we once took over a hundred people on a trip to Attabad Lake. That particular trip was really exciting for us mainly because of the drama and the adventure involved. A glacier had melted during those days and it was very difficult to cross the lake but somehow we did that and made lots of memories that we can never forget.
Please mention any challenges you currently face as a company?
Naturally every business faces challenges and tackling them is a key part of entrepreneurship. Our company, however, has never faced any challenge that would worry us on a major scale. For this I can thank no one but the Almighty and our friendly customers.
Do you believe that entrepreneurs should ideally build a business around what they naturally love to do?
Ideally, yes. I believe that there is no substitute for passion. If passion becomes business, you will never get frustrated with what you do. Handling the business everyday would never be difficult and getting money for what you love to do will obviously be the icing on the cake.
What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling to build his or her own startup?
The single advice that I would give to anyone starting their own business would be to always be original with your idea. No one should ever try and copy someone else’s work. There is a very fine line between idealizing a business model and completely ripping it off and every businessman should respect that.