We talked to Parashu Ram Nepal, founder at Holy Mountain Treks on how to discover holiday and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Parashu Ram Nepal: We have been strictly following safety protocols, and we feel blessed that we are able to keep ourselves safe. Business and social meetings have turned into zoom meetings. Sometimes it’s tough to keep children home-bound, but my wife and I have felt we could have never spent such quality time with our children and our parents.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Holy Mountain Trek.
Parashu Ram Nepal: I had a few fluctuations in my career. Starting as a web designer back in 2000, I worked for some emerging IT companies. I started a web design and development company -Vertex Solution Inc in 2007. We were a group of 4-5 young innovative web designers and programmers who used to do different jobs for the day, and for 4-5 hours at night, we would work for Vertex Solution Inc. This is how I started my business career.
After working as a web manager at Mountain Travel Nepal, a sister concern of Tiger Tops Group (a pioneer outdoor organizer), I became interested in the adventure business. The chance to work closely with the sales and operation team made me skillful. My wife, who then worked in sales for another adventuring company, too, made me develop my interest in the hotel business. So, I invested in establishing a small budget category hotel (Kathmandu Sunny Hotel)in the tourist hub of Nepal, Thamel. Some of my guests wanted tours, treks to be organized through us. So, I co-founded Holy Mountain Treks to help my adventure lover guests in my hotel, but we expanded our client base in a very short period.
How does Holy Mountain Trek innovate?
Parashu Ram Nepal: Focusing on technology-based work, belief in giving back to society, i.e., the practice of responsible tourism, focusing on the tailor-made trips depending on interest and requirement of the travelers are some innovative ideas we have been implementing. We have mainly targeted women travel and women empowerment by recruiting more female guides. We have always remained as flexible as possible with itineraries design, tailor-making the trips, booking, and cancellation policies, but we know we need to be far more flexible with prices, booking amendments, and cancellation policies after this pandemic.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Parashu Ram Nepal: Unfortunately, the pandemic jumped in just after I took over 50% of my partner’s share in the hotel.
Due to the pandemic, one of the first and most affected businesses throughout the world in the tourism business. In Nepal, also the adventure travel industry is severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Guides and porters are jobless, and some have already adopted another career.
But guides and adventure companies in Nepal have reason to be hopeful. Given that the infection rate and death rate due to Covid-19 in Nepal is less than in many countries and that Nepal’s tourism industry is mostly focused on adventure travel in which social distancing is easier to practice, we are optimistic.
Given that outdoor guides and adventure travel companies are known to adapt to any situation, it’s face masks, disinfectant, and social distancing measures that we have to adopt now in addition to OTC drugs, splints, and first-aid kits.
The bookings that were canceled due to Covid-19 are actually postponed for a later date. We would like to thank our valued clients who, instead of asking for a refund for the cancelled trip, have generously allowed us to use their booking advance for the welfare of our porters and guides.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Parashu Ram Nepal: Yes, I did have to make some difficult undesirable choices. We had to see our esteemed outdoor guides and porters left without work. I had to cut out staff at the hotel.
Although we already knew that health is important, this pandemic has added real meaning to it. The pandemic made us expect the unexpected.
I think COVID has also exposed the vulnerability of small businesses and how we are fragile in the face of a pandemic and economic calamities. The one thing I would hope our policymakers would try to do is to take some of the strain off of people and small businesses.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Holy Mountain Trek in the future?
Parashu Ram Nepal: Initial phase of this pandemic came with stress and anxiety. Now seems like we have acclimatized to it. Spending time with family, playing games, and yoga has helped me manage stress.
My office team has been working from home on boosting the technical part of the company website. Also, we are working on the maintenance of our adventure programs. We have been taking the time to connect with our past clients and some international agents. We have plans to come up with attractive strategies once the world starts to feel safe. We are hopeful that the adventure travel business will be the first to thrive post-COVID.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Parashu Ram Nepal: A lot of adventure organizers are our competitors, but I think they are our motivators too. The fusion of technical expertise, leadership skills, and sales skills in our management team makes us different than our competitors. We love to have a direct, friendly, and interactive relationship with our customers and believe that our efforts and love for what we do will help us stay in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Parashu Ram Nepal: This applies to the business and the pandemic—stay calm whatever the situation is and try to turn a negative situation into a positive situation.
Thanks to startup.info for choosing me.