What is the big deal about being a travel agent? Is there a big deal about being gay?
None, you say.
But when you are in India and you mix the two together, it sure makes for an adventurous joyride. People want to know why you are doing what you are doing and then people want to know what exactly is it that you are doing.
It is fun answering these people and it is awfully lot more fun doing my job!
So here I am, a gay travel agent in India; and I have many, many confessions to make.
Just as we were planning to hit out on our own, getting all excited about launching our gay tours in India we thought we need a name that will resonate across the world. We thought we wanted a name that the gay Google user will easily find us through. So we hit upon “Pink Journeys” , we had very limited vision and frankly we thought that just as we attach “pink” in a rather proud sense to being gay in India, the world does the same too.
But then we realized that we were wrong, Pink is passé, it’s gone, over used and sounds too greedy. Our friend, Thomas Roth of Consumer Marketing Inc. pitched in and gave us our first serious education in gay travel and gay business. He told us about pride and how valuable it is to the global LGBT community and he told us about sophisticated the LGBT traveler had become. It struck a chord and hence we decided that we’d call ourselves – “Out Journeys” and we’d tell people how truly beautiful and loving place India is and we’d bring people ‘out’ in India.
Thomas shared a huge amount of market research and intelligence which not only helped us deciding on the name of our gay travel agency but also told us about how gay and lesbian travelers make travel choices, what are their preferences and what are the factors that are negotiable and non-negotiable for them.
Now this was truly enlightening. I had for a while been wondering about how I will stand apart. What is it that will truly make me a gay welcoming travel agent in India.
Armed with all the market research and a deeper understanding of the psyche of the global LGBT traveler, we sat down to brainstorm on what would become our guiding philosophy. We started listing down things which would make us a truly gay welcoming travel agency and make us stand apart in the crowd.
What came out for us through this process were three things, which I personally hold very close to my heart as well: Pride, Honor and Freedom.
Pride in who I am and how I live my life.
Honor all individuals and groups who wish to live in peace and with love.
Freedom to be myself, follow my instincts and not to be questioned about my personal space.
If you would now see the way our business is run and the way we interact with our clients, associates and friends, these three aspects stand out. They are constant. Unwavering.
This is how Out Journeys was born – helping people come out in India.