Rayna Tours is a one-stop provider for top quality Destination Management services and today we have the honour to speak to its co-founder, Manoj Tulsani on his entrepreneurship journey.
How did you come up with the idea of your startup?
I met my co-founder and friend (Kamlesh Ramchandani) while working with Safeer Group of Companies. After seven to eight years into our respective careers, we did come up with the idea of starting Rayna Tours inspired by Kamlesh’s entrepreneurial spirit and my immense passion for traveling and meeting new people.
How did you start the startup? Could you walk us through the process?
Despite our successful careers, Kamlesh and I always wanted to turn on to our own feet while working together. That’s how we decided to start Rayna Tours and Travels in 2006. The beginning was from a small counter inside Flora Grand Hotel in Dubai. As we transitioned from trading to service industry, it took some time for us to plan, research and establish our foothold, before we could claim our concrete success.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
As a complete newbie in the industry, involving in this segment of market appeared to be a world apart from the trading sector. Moreover, with just two of us, we had to wear many hats as we didn’t have a mentor, a strong team, or a fool-proof business plan to take our business forward. As a complete newbie in the industry, involving in this segment of market appeared to be a world apart from the trading sector. Moreover, with just two of us, we had to wear many hats as we didn’t have a mentor, a strong team, or a fool-proof business plan to take our business forward.
How did you overcome these difficulties?
We overcame most of them by being persistentin learning, researching and via pushing ourselves through every obstacle and challenge. And our unique and innovative business idea of arranging tours and activities to the hotel guests also brought us maximum attention in the initial stage.
What were some of the important lessons you learnt from it?
There are many but the most important ones are: • Be flexible as the trends and markets keep evolving • Expect the most unexpected • Always have the willingness to learn from a challenge or failure2iHow have you been developing your company since start-up?As we kicked off this venture from a modest background, it then demanded even thelast ounce of our personal savings and energy. But it was worth it as we went on to open 15 more outlets in less than two years. From there, it didn’t take us long to establish ourselves as one of the UAE’s leading Destination Management Companies. More than a decade now, we’ve now emerged into a global brand with about 10 locations and a combined workforce of over 500 employees.
What kind of market feedback did you get for your startup so far?
We are extremely proud as our startup has had made its way up to the top mostly via the word of mouth or great customer feedbacks. And this is greatly reflected in some of our coveted winnings, mainly the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and Arabian Travel Awards (in the categories: Best Destination Management Company and the Best B2B Portal). They all have been based on an unbiased public voting system.
What is your strategy against your competition?
Dealing with competitors (especially stronger ones) can naturally make you stressful. But the general rule of thumb is not to get obsessed about competition or take it personal. To stay ahead of the competition, the main mantra is to devise out of the box ideas and most importantly, do things right. Our dedicated customer support team not only keep themselves abreast of the market demands and trends, but also ensure that our service portfolio always have something exciting to keep our customers coming back over and again.
What is your strategy to remain relevant in this industry?
It has always been the same from the beginning – to cater to our customers’ evolving travel requirements and demands at their desired price point. With the backing of the right strategies including the Direct to Customer approach, this has helped us to create a niche for ourselves in the market as a leader in the personalized travel for less.
How do you find Asian entrepreneurship versus Western entrepreneurship?
Did you encounter any interesting aspects/unique experiences of starting a business in Asia? The entrepreneurial culture, laws or more precisely, the way the businesses are conducted in both the east and west may be different. But whether you’re an Asian or a Western entrepreneur, I believe what’s most vital is that you must have a game-changing concept / product / services in order to take your business forward and make it stand out. Moreover, as change is inevitable in every business ecosystem, one should be prepared to put forward their best feet in order to cut through the ongoing industry challenges or obstacles.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I started my career as a marketing executive at Safeer Group of Companies and then worked with Machine Group of Companies as the marketing head. As it was always in the back of our minds to be on our own feet and do something creative, I resigned my job when the right time came (after six years of corporate life).
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Along with a unique business idea, I think you should have a genuine passion for what you decide toembark upon. I have been fascinated for as long as I couldreminisce by the idea of traveling and creating new experiences. And this perpetualinterest for travel has not only inspired me to explore more about this industry but also kept me going despite all harsh market variations.
Any parting words of wisdom?
There is no doubt that entrepreneurship is an exciting journey, but don’t expect it to be a pleasant ride all times. Along with success, be prepared to tackle the unanticipated disasters, sometimes the worst, and of course take lessons from every failure or obstacle.