Udhey Singh a.k.a UD, the founder of Him Trek, is calm and always ready to take the plunge. Udhey studied from Sainik School where the basic idea was to join Armed forces. In his childhood, he was a great sportsman and had bagged Best sports man of Himachal and Best athlete of the state 2 times in a row. After working with corporate brands like Airtel, Oracle and some other MNC’s for a decade he discovered his real passion and decided to pursue it and launched Him Trek on May 2014.
TSJ’s guest Editor Siddhartha spoke with UD about his journey till date & forthcoming plans.
Q. What inspired you to open Him Trek?
A. Love for sports, travelling and especially outdoor adventures has always been there. Though the start of the Him Trek was very interesting. I still remember it was our anniversary, when I and my wife went for the Triund Trek. During this period I was also looking out for some opportunities in travelling domain. It was at that moment, I decided to leave my job and open Him Trek. It was an instinctive decision and I didn’t even have the time to realise when Him Trek came to shape. And now when I look back, I feel glad that I took this decision.
Q. How has the journey of Him Trek been till now?
A. In my lingo, it is more like trailing treks. There have been many highs with its fair share of lows but there wasn’t a time when I haven’t enjoyed being a part of this journey. It all started with the Bal/Guna Devi in May 2014, I learnt by saying ‘Yes’ to all the possibilities that I used to get from my travellers because, I believe, this is how one learns. Initially, even if you think that you might not be able to provide the best itinerary that the traveller wants, you still should go for it and work on it. Believe me, the end result will put a smile on your face. Following this mantra, we are now conducting trips in various parts of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Nepal being the other destinations.
Q. What excites you about being a travel consultant? And do you also offer itinerary planning for your customers?
A. I am enjoying the transition that I’m seeing in this industry. Youngsters and women solo travellers have increased in multiples; travellers are experimenting unexplored destinations these days. And this also brings me to your next question – these are my learning from the innumerable itineraries that we have worked on. So, yes, we do provide standard and bespoke travel itineraries.
Q. What is the most difficult part of being a Travel Consultant?
A. Adventure tourism – this sector is still at a very nascent stage. When we cater to different people, we need to understand that they come with their different set of ideologies and they come from a varied age set, therefore I would say striking the right chord with the needs of the travellers is difficult as well as the most important part of being a travel consultant.
Q. Since travel & tourism is a service industry, how do you handle difficult customers & their grievances?
A. We have always countered these situations logically. There are times when the travellers are genuine, from their feedback, we try to address their concerns. And there are times, when, we try to allay their fears. But when push comes to shove, then difficult situations call for the difficult actions. Having said that, the crux is to give them an unforgettable experience.
Q. In this business everyone works on a commission or in better words ‘percentage’, be it a hotel owner, car drivers, and any middle person who is arranging the trip for a customer. While doing it, the trip cost increases gradually. What do you think about this honestly?
A. I would say, two heads are better than one. Every entity/person has its own expertise and I strongly commend that we should encase upon it. Also, my take is hard work should not go unnoticed. We need to understand that it’s not a child’s play. Making an itinerary from the scratch, keeping in mind the customer’s needs is a task in itself. All the people who gives a shape to the package should get their fair due.
Q. Tourism is being promoted by Govt. of India on a regular basis & tourists are often called as “Atithi Devo Bhava”, do you treat your guests as God?
A. Traveller is as interesting genus as God. And I respect this trait. Considering the influx of the tourists recently, this campaign, I believe is a very good initiative. Complying by the underlying meaning, we always treat our guests with love, warmth and respect.
Q. Most of the travel agencies or firms aren’t registered in India & customers booking through them face a lot of hassles after they book a trip with them. Is your firm registered & what sort of approach do you take to give your customers a wonderful memory?
A. Yes, our firm is registered under Himachal Pradesh Tourism.
If I put myself in a traveller’s shoes then I would like to approach a company who can give me a hassle free and a friendly trip. And this is exactly what we try and serve.
Q. Insurance is an important part of any travel plan in the present day scenario. Indian Railways offer Rs 10 lakh insurance cover by paying less than one rupee. Are you planning to introduce such plans with your packages and suggest your customers about the same & its benefits?
A. Yes, we understand the importance of Insurance. As far as our international clients are concerned, we always tell them to get the insurance from their respective countries and considering in mind the current expansion of our business, we are currently in discussion with Insurance companies to facilitate insurance benefits to the Clients.
Q. Has Demonetisation affected your business in any manner and do you provide an e-payment option for your customers?
A. When I say that travel industry has seen a paradigm shift then, demonetisation has proved it. When the news broke, I thought there will certainly be a lean period for a while but I was wrong. I haven’t seen any change in the number of requests I have been getting so far for the trips. Also taking in account the current situation, we are making the payment process simple, we do provide e-payment option to the customers as well as Paytm.
Q. Is your firm bootstrapped and in the coming months or years are you planning for any VC funding?
A. Yes, currently we are managing everything on our own. As far as the possibility of a VC is concerned, I would say it is a future prospect and I am busy living in the present moment for now. Although our motto is to spread our wings to that far which we can manage well.
Q. Which trek or trip would you love to recommend to your new customers for ‘once in a lifetime’ experience with Him Trek?
A. India is such a beautiful country, it is a real challenge to cull out just one. I would say cover everything with us and have a ‘Once in a lifetime’ experience there. Though recently I have done a trek from Satrundi to Sach Pass and it is definitely one of the best.
Q. What are your personal top three travel destinations?
A. It is really a tough one. I can’t isolate any trek that I have done so far. With every trip, I feel, I grow as a person. I meet different kind of people, gather experiences and last but not the least, I get to see some breathtakingly beautiful vistas. Having said that, if I really have to name three, then it would be Germany, Bhutan and India, being my favourite. Also, I would like to add Lahaul Spiti and Star gazing at Hatu Peak must be on everyone’s travel wish list.
Q. How should customers reach you and book a trip with Him Trek?
A. HimTrek.co.in is the place where you can get all the information. You can also give us a call. We have our FB page that will give you a sneak peek into our trips.
Q. What is your word of advice for the young generation who want to become entrepreneurs?
A. Always remember the WHY – why do you want to start a new venture; what drives you to take this plunge? It will keep you focused and grounded, now and in future also. Moreover, have a foresightedness and be honest in your dealings.