Drifting away from the family business, Bharat Bhushan Atree, Managing Director, Caper Travel Company, found his true calling in travel and making people travel. Spearheading one of the biggest inbound travel companies in India, he is today diversifying into many other verticals.
What inspired you to make a foray into the travel industry? When and how did it begin?
Having done my Masters from Australia, where I travelled extensively fuelling my passion to navigate the globe, I was unsure if I would either join politics or my father’s construction company. However, realising my footing was neither one, I did a travel and tourism course and was soon employed by a small travel company in BhikajiCamaPlace. While being subordinated was not to my liking, the love and want to travel was now the focal point of my life and I realised that there was nothing in the travel business I couldn’t do on my own. That is when I began ‘Caper Travel Company’ in December 1998.
What have been the biggest milestones in your career? What are the three fundamentals of success, in your opinion?
Caper began as a three-man team (including me). Over the years, we have become one of the largest inbound companies in India, growing to 300-plus employees. We faced a lot of competition, and the ‘then’ biggies, when threatened, also tried to shut us out. However, with hard work and driven by desire we overcame all challenges to be where we are today. There is no short cut to success but in my opinion there are some guidelines to remember. I believe that if you want something, you can achieve it with determination. Always be true to yourself, and that way you’d always be able to justify your actions. Finally, one should work, work and work some more, because if you don’t succeed at first there will always be a second time.
Tell us about some of the roadblocks you faced while establishing yourself in the business. What motivated you to keep going on?
When I began Caper, it was much against the aspirations my family had from me. I started out with my limited savings. As we grew, the obstacles became different, as did the competitors. The market was small and each wanted the other’s share. Caper was getting bigger with more people being hired and a new office space being acquired. Not only did we have to deal with other travel companies, but also had problems with existing employees. Fortunately, with the support of my family and staff, we could tide over rough patches and emerged at the top.
So far, you have achieved a lot in the industry. What are you setting your sights onnext?
Both Caper and I have expanded our horizons multifold. We have formed new SBUs, each working with a different market, including flight ground handling as well as hotel management. We have also diversified into the making of software for a smoother and hassle-free online portal. We are creating a buzz with our hotel and hospitality company, especially in Goa. Our latest venture is a luxury transport company and an outbound travel company. Our aim is client satisfaction and that is the one thing which we don’t compromise on.
What are the causes that are of importance to you, and which contribute to the growth of the industry?
Travel is an ever-growing industry, but is also affected by global events such as recession and terrorism. Some of the causes which are important to the industry and can push growth and increase the numbers are good infrastructure, simplified and competitive tax for tourism products, so that we can compete with our neighbours. There is a need for tourism friendly policy and aggressive promotion and marketing of Incredible India as a destination. Also, there should be wayside amenities, clean toilets at monuments and training for taxi drivers and hawkers to respect tourists and not to harass them.