Want a day’s vacation? Try flexi-holidays

April 2nd, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by admin  

(Feature)
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Young, upwardly mobile professionals in India are hard-pressed for time, but that shouldn’t stop them from indulging in “flexi-holidays” - short breaks that last for a day or even half and customised by tour operators. “Executives look forward to weekends wherein they can attach Fridays or Mondays to rush off for short holidays. They look forward to refreshing themselves during these short stays,” said Jahangir J. Ghadiali, managing director of International Travel House (ITH), a leading Delhi-based tour operator, told IANS.

Flexi holidays are the latest trend in the free individual travel (FIT) segment. They can cost anything from Rs.10,000 to Rs.100,000, depending on the traveller’s budget.

Flexi-tourists usually prefer to holiday in destinations closer to their places of work. Short holidays, he said, are the best way to de-stress.

“Professionals breaking free from rigorous and stressful lifestyles have made short holidays a trend. They usually spend quality time with families and friends in an environment out of their regular routine,” Ghadiali said.

Budget hotels, low airfares and lifestyle trends have spurred the demand for one- or two-day holidays. These holidaymakers are usually adventure tourists, couples with double incomes and no liability, and singletons with hefty pay packets.

ITH recently customised an ultra-short holiday for 16 fresh graduates from the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa, who wanted to celebrate their graduation ceremony.

“It was impromptu. They came in unannounced, hired cars from our ITH rental fleet and wanted us to customise a day’s getaway for them. They demanded something offbeat with a good view of the hills,” said a holiday planner at ITH.

The ITH found them a dilapidated inn high on the hills of Kasauli in Uttarakhand. “The boys drove down to Kasauli and on reaching the inn, they found that it had no water and electricity. It was real adventure.

“They bathed in the cold water of the hills, ordered food from the valley below and danced the night away to music from their car stereos. The old inn was quaint. The next day, they drove back to the capital. It was one of the wackiest flexi-holidays we designed this year,” the official said.

Flexihols, the flexi-holiday brand of blue chip tourism firm Cox & Kings, has changed its profile this year.

“We have tweaked it a bit and created different segments to suit specific holiday needs,” Ashutosh Mehere, head of the FIT segment of Cox & Kings, told IANS.

The segments are - explorer, adventurer, family, shopper, romantic holidays and value deals.

“The explorer segment caters to a customer who wants to plan his holiday once he reaches his destination. Whether he wants to shop at Khan el Khaleli in Egypt on the first day or take the Nile cruise in the evening, the choice is his,” Mehere said.

The adventurer, said Mehere, might like to study the Masai tribe in Africa or go paragliding in Manila. He might even try water rafting in Asia just for the high-adrenaline experience.

In the family segment, mostly elders make the choice. “Here, we introduce options like children’s visit to Disneyland in Paris or Florida, a visit to the Singapore zoo or to the botanical gardens,” Mehere explained.

“Then we have a segment for shoppers, where travellers spend their time shopping in the glitzy malls of Southeast Asia or Europe,” Mehere said.

“What we do is to suggest to customers. At times, they may have read or seen something on television that may not be true. What we do is to educate them on what’s possible and guide them accordingly,” the holiday expert said.

Large groups of professionals in the service sectors and corporate houses are looking to flexi holidays these days to save time and innovate on itineraries simultaneously.

Managers from the Bangalore-based The Madura Group were recently taken on a day’s sporting holiday to the Angsana Resort run by the Prestige Hotel Chain on the outskirts of Bangalore.

“We called it a cricketing holiday. Soon after reaching the resort, a cricket match was organised for executives from across the country. The match lasted till 5.30 p.m. It was followed by tennis and a party. Next morning, they were back,” an ITH official said.

Essentially such holidays are short and high speed, factoring in all the luxuries that leisure holidays can offer in the shortest possible time. Such vacations do not have fixed regimens like time-bound arrivals, departures and mandatory schedules.

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