Nidhi Bansal, CoFounder & CEO at India City Walks
Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Nidhi Bansal: Once a traveller at heart is always a traveller at heart. Nothing can ever change that. Nor a bevy of illustrious qualifications, neither a high-flying career. These words aptly sum up my personality. I spent fruitful 20 years in the most elevated echelons of the hospitality industry followed by a successful career at Genpact. Being a traveller always remained an inseparable part of my personality through the sands of time. Although a globetrotter, I know major cities of India like the back of the palm. It was during my international trips that I realized that our Nation has rich history and culture which needs to be shared with the world. It required passion and knowledge that enhanced with great marketing and packaging to strive excellence in this genre of work. And thus, the journey started.
Great Companies: What are the various Services provided by India City Walks
· WALKING TOURS - INTEGRATING TOURISM DESIGN & INNOVATION
· CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS AND AWARENESS GENERATION INITIATIVES
· CITY SIGHTSEEING & THEMATIC INDIA EXPERIENCES
· STORYTELLING SESSIONS & CULTURAL WORKSHOPS
· CONSCIOUS AND REGENERATIVE TRAVEL
· CULTURAL HERITAGE EVENTS AND EXPERIENCES
Great Companies: What makes India City Walks different from hundreds of other Travel and Tourism firms?
Nidhi Bansal: India City Walks was conceived to showcase the historical and contemporary facets of different cities in India as a mélange of cultures. We offer unique exploration experiences through heritage, culinary, textile, spiritual walks and experiences. We are an organisation which works in the arena of cultural-heritage tourism industry, one of the first ones to bring sustainability, training, structure and framework to the vast scope of employability and income. We have brought the two worlds of Tourism and History together – bringing in Sustainability.
India City Walks™ was conceptualized to present to the globetrotters and its citizens the essence of Indian culture, cuisine, heritage and the mélange that it creates in the most authentic way. This conceptualization was only a step towards a longer vision of making the community and its culture thrive in the various pockets of the country and the cities.
The impact is created by shaping a sustainable ecosystem in heritage & tourism through award winning delivery models which further creates employment, leading to community impact in across India. Our flagships empower creativity in tourism through strong storyline that offer opportunities to locals.
We have devised a series of impactful and sustainable initiatives bringing value through citizen engagement, storytelling activities delivered by flagships India With Locals™, India Heritage Walks® and Storytellers of India®. We are dedicated completely to experiential tourism and our products are envisioned for deep city explorations in conjunction with three-time National award-winning brand India City Walks™. Our Heritage Heroes™ carry the baton of awareness and spearhead neighbourhood engagement initiatives.
Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?
Nidhi Bansal: In a country as vast as India, we have faced challenges in places to protect, safeguard and preserve heritage. An uphill task has been to create pan-India awareness on heritage, irrespective of the place. Working in the arena of tangible and in-tangible heritage we have been confronted with challenges of dignity of labor, revenue and the balance of ‘people, process and technology’. Heritage in India has been an un-organized sector and we have constantly worked around keeping the legacy, life and its surroundings accessible and alive for the generations to come. The challenge has been at multi levels – to bring citizen appreciation and engagement in the arena of heritage, environmental depletion and human intervention into vandalism and encroachment. As a business we saw lot of content clutter and we managed it through intellectual properties. More than 50% of our services and products re registered IPs with GoI.
Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for India City Walks?
Nidhi Bansal: We are focussing on nature & environment-friendly initiatives alongside, enhancing opportunities for the Locals by supporting maximum economic benefits. We strongly believe in entrepreneurial and self-reliant ways to bring revival and it is time to reflect competency and deployment. The diversity of India is full of opportunities.
Our focus is on regenerative travel to enhance rural development through our eco-tourism flagships Walk With Tribe™, Virasat Yatra™ and EQ Encounters® integrated with green component to achieve sustainable development of little-known or remote territories.
Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Nidhi Bansal: Taking into consideration the problems with the travel industry’s current model and the future of sustainability - ‘Fail fast, bring ideas into execution mode’.
Great Companies: What actions do you recommend to encourage more women into board level positions?
Nidhi Bansal: Now this is very personal to me. We need to create the right ecosystem for the women to succeed and achieve greater heights. Aspirations and expectations needs to be managed. Had I not been encouraged by my faculty in my hospitality school I would have never taken up a job in a big city. My mentors at work further guided /supported me to take up challenging roles and be able to perform them successfully. In short, interventions that motivate women to take up jobs and then successfully grow in them. A best practice which must be followed is Mentorship Programs. MP must exist across organizations big or small. There must be encouragement and freedom to be their own decision makers. An inclusive work-environment will support women to take charge of critical positions. There is a need to discuss without judgements and inhibitions. I believe that it is important that our work life needs to be given equal importance as our family life and all individuals who are a part of our overall lives need to understand this and become our support system. Lastly, as women it is also our responsibility to participate in different programs and adhere to its requirements.