A chartered accountant quits his lucrative job to share travel secrets
INFORMATION GATHERING Hari Nair: `We gathered information by travelling around, researching on the net, looking up travelogues, getting perceptions of foreign tourists, and from interesting blogs' PHOTO: MURALI KUMAR K.
Exploring new horizons and setting foot on virgin terrain, identifying exotic places unlisted on tourist maps are dreams those afflicted by wanderlust have. But making that a profession after kicking up a conventional job, and sharing such information with fellow travellers is another cup of tea altogether.
Hari Nair, a chartered accountant by profession with over 15 years of experience with leading MNCs chose to do just that. "Travelling and exploring new places has always been a passion with me. Breaking away from the norm has been my trademark from youth. So, quitting my job and pursuing a passion for travel as a profession was nothing extraordinary," he says.
Bitten by the travel bug at a young age, he loved to identify and visit places that were not frequented by tourists. It was in one of those jaunts, near Mumbai, that he came across the fascinating beach resort Kashid. "It is probably the best beach resort in the country, but very few people outside Maharashtra would know of it."
After spending time there, it occurred to him that there must be several such undiscovered spots in the country. Teaming up with his friend Vinu Krishnan, who is now his business partner, that he started a small club of like-minded people interested in travelling and exploring new places. "We gathered a community of travellers willing to share information."
This brought him closer to a mine of information on hitherto little known places as well as resorts that were fairly untested. "I realised we had just touched the tip of the iceberg and there was immense potential waiting to be tapped."
No looking back
After that there was no looking back. "I quit my job in Mumbai and moved to Bangalore. By the end of the year, we had all the systems in place, our website became operational and currently we have over 26,000 members, adding close to 150 new members every day."
His company, Leisure & Lifestyle Information Services, offers information on tourist spots with a unique sorting system that links to resorts through their website Indiaresortssurvey.com. These resorts are rated by members, based on personal experiences.
"People visit our website for information and become members. They then rate resorts they have recently visited." To ensure these ratings are unbiased, there are various checks in place that weed out any foul play. Since vacationers themselves rate a holiday spot, they are totally reliable, says Nair.
Besides the websites, information is also available in the form of travel booklets and guides that the company compiles and releases very often. Recalling the early months of this venture, he talks about how they were initially just fooling around but it snowballed into something else. "I was then a partner at KPMG and had reached (a plateau) in my career. I was also toying with the idea of an entrepreneurial venture."
"To begin with, everything was grey and the monthly pay packet was not there," he laughs. The first six months, he did some freelance work, which made the transition easier. His company was finally set up in late 2003. Initially, they did have information over 300 places of stay. "We gathered information by travelling around, researching on the net, looking up travelogues, getting perceptions of foreign tourists, and from interesting blogs." The information thus compiled was structured and listed.
Nair now looks forward to expanding his net of operations to include South East Asian countries where you don't need a visa to travel. Within the country he hopes to add more information and include more members to expand his reach. Hari Nair can be contacted on 98454-93116.
The column features those who get off the beaten track to pursue their dreams.
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