WebInTravel editor and producer Yeoh Siew Hoon writes about Hanuman’s Temple Safaris.
When you are operating in the long tail and run a product like “Temple Safari”, the most powerful tool of distribution is inspiration. That, and connections. Said Nick Ray of Hanuman Tourism, Cambodia, “If you can inspire travel companies and travel journalists to believe in your ideas, then the product will take off.”
As such, his company which believes in “travel with a personal touch” has been cultivating contacts and connections that can help them spread the word.
Said Ray, “Hanuman has been very fortunate in this respect. We partner a number of market leaders in the UK, US and France and their growth has helped fuel our growth over the years.”
“We also have a very good relationship with journalists and travel writers in general as we are used to VIP hosting through our work with Hanuman Films.”
One of its most recent guests was cantankerous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. According to the Hanuman blog, executive director Kulikar Sotho, whose family is behind Hanuman Tourism, was the Cambodian Fixer for Ramsey’s television series, ‘Gordon’s Great Escapes’ – in which he travels all over the world learning about and cooking local cuisines.
Other celebrities it’s hosted include Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig and Jeremy Clarkson “so we get the word out through our partner travel agents and international journalists who are inspired by the original concepts we are promoting”, said Ray.
In its Temple Safaris, it takes visitors out to the jungle temples of Northern Cambodia where luxury tents are pitched close to ancient cultural sites and guests can enjoy the quiet of the wilderness away from mass tourism. The product is the company’s signature trip was conceived on a trip to Uganda and Rwanda by Kulikar.
Said Ray, “The main difference is in the attractions. In Africa, the experience is all about wildlife and getting up close and personal with lions, leopards, elephants and more. In the case of Temple Safaris, it is about remote temples that were traditionally difficult to access although this has evolved to include beaches and wetland areas in the Mekong. It is possible we could apply the African model to an area where wildlife is prevalent.”
Indeed, Ray believes these safaris could work elsewhere in Asia. “The beauty and simplicity of the concept is that it can work anywhere. Natural sites, cultural sites, wilderness sites – essentially anywhere that lacks infrastructure. It could be wildlife, it might be a dramatic viewpoint or a private beach. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.”
Currently, most of its customers come from the UK with some from the US. One of its strongest promoters has been Audley Travel, UK. Other supporters include Cox & Kings, Indochina Travel and Bamboo Travel.
In a good year, the company takes about 250-500 people a year on safari. Ray estimates the price to be about US$300 per day per person, covering four-wheel drives, tour guide and all meals. “It is not a budget product due to the mobile nature of the camps and the support team this requires.”
Because it works through partners, it does limited direct marketing other than the public relations work it does with journalists and celebrities. However it is giving its website a massive overhaul. Currently, 70% of its business come through its partners and 30% through the website.
The use of social media is limited. Hanuman Tourism has a blog and a Twitter account “so this may be something to ramp up in future,” said Ray.