Tour Talk

Easing into Asia

written by | Posted on January 1st, 2009

Some might argue that there is nothing easy about booking travel to Asia. But Easy Tours of Asia (ETA) would disagree. The company started out five years ago helping agents book highly specialized trips to India online. But business was so healthy that growth was inevitable. Now a full-blown tour company with a brick and mortar face, Easy Tours of India has become Easy Tours of Asia and promising the same comfort, confidence and care in booking tours to Thailand, Tibet and Bhutan as it brings to the Taj Mahal.

“Everyone realizes that Southeast Asia is a treasure trove of amazing monuments and the richest cultures on the planet. What prevents more agents from offering the destinations Easy Tours of Asia offers is a lack of confidence,” says Sunil Trehan, president. “This manifests itself in two ways: a fear that their clients will not appreciate the facilities and service levels at these destinations, and a fear that they do not themselves know enough about the destinations. The latter is particularly relevant because the Internet is such an easy source of good and bad information and the average client usually arms themselves with just enough to be a hazard. We’re not middlemen. We’re the only U.S.-based luxury specialists with multiple operation offices all over Southeast Asia. These factors are the very reason behind the success of Easy Tours.”

Originally from Southeast Asia himself, Trehan has traveled this land quite extensively for the last few decades both for business and pleasure. It was his feeling that despite an abundance of luxury hotels and facilities, there was no organization that combined experience in Western tastes and preferences with an in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of true luxury travel experiences in Southeast Asia. He formed a tour company that started by serving India and within five years, expanded to include Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Dubai, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. About 20 percent of ETA’s tours cater to specific interests such as archaeological sites, wildlife parks, shopping, or a combination of several specialized interests.

“To begin with, we are true specialists. We do not sell the world. We sell what we know. We experience what we sell ourselves on a continual basis—we stay at all the hotels, fly on the same local airlines, travel with the same local support staff, sometimes sending ‘mystery travelers’ from our North America offices,” he says.

Currently, the company’s most popular custom itinerary is the 17-day North India and Dubai Tour introduced a few months ago. Their best selling small group tour has always been the 21-day First Visit Series Tour that presents a healthy cross section of all the major attractions and regions of India. A new version of that itinerary, a 21-day India Culinary Tour, is generating excitement among new and existing clients, Trehan says. It is a comprehensive package covering both north and south India, giving guests exposure to both regions and the myriad tastes of these regions in one tour.

“Being able to combine the array of different regional and ethnic cuisines, as well as the sights in north and south India, is a remarkable experience,” says Trehan. Meanwhile, there’s a 3-night trip to Dubai, whether as an add-on or a trip in itself, that includes a spectacular desert safari and dinner, most meals, and stays at properties ranging from the Crown Plaza to the Burj Al Arab for $700 pp dbl land-only.

All of Easy Tours’ travel offerings are available with a zero carbon footprint. Clients pay a nominal surcharge (that is quoted separately) for this privilege. Whether a guest chooses to participate in these efforts or not, Easy Tours contributes a portion of every dollar earned to environmental and/or social organizations.

“We do this because we discovered that it made the most business sense for us to support the communities we did business in and to protect, enhance, and ensure the continued existence of our surroundings wherever we did business,” says Trehan.

As far as the average North American traveler is concerned, Trehan sees Southeast Asia as a destination that has only reached a small fraction of its potential, noting that while the average European visitor has taken multiple trips to India, most North Americans have yet to explore this part of the world.