There’s been a paradigm shift in travel behavior: Jayanth Sharma, Toehold



India will have 50 million outbound travelers by 2020

The tourism sector in India contributes nearly 10% to the GDP and is predicted to grow to nearly USD 500 billion in the coming 10 years. There has been a considerable growth in the number of domestic travelers and inbound international tourists in the last few years. The number of inbound travelers to India recently recorded a 15% increase with nearly 10 million tourists arriving in India in 2017.

Outbound travel is growing at a rate of 15-18 percent annually with nearly 25 million people opting for international destinations in 2017. This number is expected to reach 50 million travelers by 2020 with total India Outbound tourism market to grow close to US$ 45 Billion by 2022.

Toehold, one of India’s leading travel-and-photography company, pioneers in bringing an unique range of travel and photography related services that includes photography-oriented group-tours, photography equipment rentals, photography workshops and personalized vacations.

Manish Joshi of NewsBarons connects with Jayanth Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO of Toehold who informs ‘We, as a company, are growing between 10 to 15 percent each year’.

NB: Combining travel and photography in a package, how has been the response. Is photography an extension of your travel venture or vice versa?

Jayanth: It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there’s been a paradigm shift in travel behavior. People used to take pictures because they were traveling but now they travel to take pictures. For us, travel and photography go hand-in-hand. While it’s not necessary to travel to take pictures (because one can do so in one’s own backyard), we live on such a blessed planet that there’s always something more to see and learn and travel provides us that opportunity to combine exploration and art into one seamless experience.

Jayanth Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO - Toehold
Jayanth Sharma

NB: Tell us about your y-o-y growth? What are your revenue models?

Jayanth: We started with an initial revenue of INR 1.2 crore in 2010-11 and over time have grown organically. In 2015, we were doing INR 5.1 crore of revenue, which got boosted to INR 6.8 crore in 2016 and to INR 7.9 crore in 2017. We have recorded sales of nearly INR 9 crore in March 2018 growing at a rate of 12-13% annually.

A large part of our sales happens in the tourism segment, both photography tours and leisure vacations, contributing to nearly INR 6.5 crore out of the INR 9 crore revenue for this year. The camera rental division contributes to the remainder of the sales, around INR 2 crore. The photography workshops and other smaller services contribute nearly half a crore rupees annually.

NB: What is your current geographical presence? What are your plans for expansion?

Jayanth: We are headquartered in Bengaluru with and have rentals stores in Bengaluru and Pune. We have a gallery that also doubles up as a rentals store in Mumbai. But this is only for rentals operations. For travel services, we have a gigantic footprint with tours to six out of the seven continents. We plan tours to more than 60 destinations every year.

NB: This is a more individual or couples getaway. Do you have packages for a family with children’s too?

Jayanth: Our Personalised Vacations business aims precisely to achieve a great family experience. The idea is to travel on your own terms and yet enjoy all the domain expertise that we have gathered with our immense experience over time. We also organize camps and workshops for children and teenagers. We also have families joining our group Photography-Tours as well.

NB: Are you looking at overseas expansion?

Jayanth: We will be announcing our presence in a new region by the end of this year. This new location unit will act as a marketing, sales and customer service unit.

NB: What is your Mission 2020?

Jayanth: We have a Mission 2025. By 2020, we would have identified the exact path for our 2025 goals along with prospective investments and key leadership that we plan to get on board.

The revenue growth ambition is ten times our current achievement, which is very possible. We want to be recognizable and trusted when it comes to the leisure-travel sector, especially when it comes to tailor-made experiences and particularly in the wildlife segment, which is growing exponentially.