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Working Title The Lawyer and the Traveler
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Working Title The Lawyer and the Traveler

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Piya Bose graduated from the National University of Juridical Sciences in 2006. A few months after working in a corporate law firm, she founded “Girls on the Go” (GOTG), a travel company specialising in tours for women. In this interview, she tells Bar & Bench about her love for travel, why there is plenty of space in the travel industry for her company and how becoming an entrepreneur is sometimes just about not thinking too much.

Piya Bose graduated from the National University of Juridical Sciences in 2006. A few months after working in a corporate law firm, she founded “Girls on the Go” (GOTG), a travel company specialising in tours for women. In this interview, she tells Bar & Bench about her love for travel, why there is plenty of space in the travel industry for her company and how becoming an entrepreneur is sometimes just about not thinking too much.

Bar & Bench:  The most fantastic travel experience thus far has been? 

Piya Bose: One of my most memorable travel experiences was an overland trip I did from Egypt to Israel. This was a personal trip I did, not a GOTG trip. While this experience might be traumatic for some, to a hardcore travel buff like me this was nothing short of fantastic. I was on an overnight bus from Cairo and was to reach Israel early next morning. The drive started off smoothly, but half way through the journey the bus came to a halt in the middle of the Sahara desert. I figured that the bus would not take off till next morning because the roads ahead were completely damaged because of heavy rains a few days back. I spent the night shivering as I was not prepared to face the freezing night temperatures in the desert. When I woke up early next morning I was treated to a heavenly vision of a spectacular sunrise over the Saharan sand dunes. The vivid play of light and shadow and a million colours in the sky was a sight to behold and remains till date the best sunrise I have ever seen. It was almost as if it was nature’s will that I should not just transit through the desert, but actually witness its fantastic glory. Fortunately the bus took off later in the morning, so I lived to tell this tale.

B&B: So you graduated from NUJS in 2006, worked at a prominent law firm in Bombay for a few months and then just left? What on earth were you thinking? 

PB: I don’t think I did much thinking at all frankly. If I were to honestly weigh the pros and the cons maybe I would have been apprehensive about taking this bold step. I just knew this much –  I could not see myself doing a desk job for the rest of my life even for a great salary and wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. So, I took a blind leap of faith and frankly that is what made the difference.

B&B: What was the reaction of your friends and family? 

PB: They were shocked initially. Giving up a high paying job and stepping into the travel industry where I had neither experience nor a godfather was something they just did not think was a good idea.

B&B: How did you get your first client? 

PB: I got my first client from Orkut, a popular social networking site.

B&B: When did you decide to focus on the travel needs of women alone? How has that worked out thus far?

PB: I went for an overland trip from Lucknow to Nepal and onward to Tibet. Once I was back I decided to show women the world the way I like to explore it. I had seen that very few women from India were travelling on their own at that time and even if they were, they were usually accompanied by family and friends. I decided to start a travel forum for women where they could live out their ultimate travel fantasies.

B&B: What has been the reaction of your clients? Is there any typical age group or not really? 

PB: I have received tremendous support from women across the country, from all backgrounds. I do feel I have got back a lot more than I have given in to this, just because of the fantastic women I have met. The usual concentration is in the age group of mid 20s to late 50s. But I have also had clients as young as 12 and as old as 80.

B&B: So what are the services you provide? Do you do everything from booking train tickets to hotels or have you outsourced this to other people? 

PB: I have outsourced some services to companies specializing in the same.

B&B: What is a typical day like?  

PB: I start every day with a bit of ‘quiet time’ which helps me to recharge my creative batteries. This is when I come up with new ideas and concepts. The rest of the day is full of meetings with clients, suppliers, developing itineraries, contracting, attending workshops and events organised by tourism boards etc.

B&B: Do you get special treatment in hotels once they figure out you are in the travel industry? 

PB: Travel professionals are definitely given special offers by hotels from great discounts to even complimentary stays, so we can promote their property to our clients.

B&B: Do you find yourself using your legal education in any way? 

PB: Yes, being a business owner and entering into Agreements with other parties means being constantly aware of different laws. I do think that my legal education has really helped in that respect.

B&B: Any advice for those contemplating their own entrepreneurial ventures? 

PB: Don’t ever let lack of capital ever be a reason for not starting your own business. If you have a great idea and can think out of the box, you will come up with innovative ideas to advertise and invest. The path just opens up if you can place full faith in your idea and are willing to face the initial hiccups.

Also do not compare your current fixed salary to your initial earnings from a business venture. In a business venture, earning may not be a lot initially. But once you are set in it, there is no cap on the amount you are likely to earn.

B&B: What is your opinion of the Indian travel industry? 

PB:  The typical travel industry in India is driven more by number of hotel nights and how large a group a travel agent can come up with. It is not a concept driven industry and there are [some] very set rules of the game. Fortunately since I don’t have a very typical travel agent training, it has allowed me to be creative and explore new concepts that very few travel agents have experimented with.

More information about GOTG can be found here.