Golden Chariot charts new route to stay afloat

Loss-making luxury train, The Golden Chariot (TGC), is charting new avenues to keep itself afloat.

Come November, a group of 50 students, faculty and alumni of Stanford University, California, will hold two lectures and a conference during the seven-day trip on ‘Pride of South’ route on the Bangalore-Goa stretch.

The train is also expected to host one of the “big fat Indian weddings” on board next year. Group series bookings are also being promoted, particularly targeting international universities.

M Srinivas, Project Director, TGC, told the Deccan Herald that TGC was compelled to shift gears, if it had to break even at least by its eighth year of operation.

TGC’s occupancy rate during 2008-09 was 24 per cent; 28 per cent during 2009-10, 37 per cent during 2010-11 and 36 per cent during 2011-12.

The train which has never run to its full capacity, received a maximum number of bookings this February with 70 passengers.

Srinivas said TGC had incurred a loss of Rs 10.76 crore in the last four years, despite launching another product – Southern Splendour, in March 2010.

While discussions have already been held with leading travel agency — Cox and Kings India Ltd — to promote the group series bookings, the TGC has also sold the “wedding on board” concept to the agency, which is said to be equally keen on the idea.

“We are sure to have a grand wedding on board next year. Cox and Kings has already started branding the concept. As part of the group series bookings, we have also tied up with the Great Rail Journeys, UK, who are specialists in escorted holidays by train.
The agency has made bookings for one whole year between 2013 and 2014. About 44 cabins have already been booked for January,” he said, adding that with these new strategies, TGC was envisioning a turn around in its business.

Railways blamed

Srinivas said the TGC would have made some profits if not for the “obstinacy” of the Indian Railways. He said before the launch of the train in 2007, the Railways backtracked from the revenue sharing model and started slapping haulage charges.

“If we were to operate on a revenue sharing basis (50:50), we would have been earning profits steadily. But the Railways has burdened us with heavy haulage charges which is seriously impacting operations of the TGC,” he said.

However, with three luxury trains — Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey and TGC — building pressure on the Railways, it has agreed to give rebate on the haulage charges for the next three years.

Accordingly, the haulage burden on TGC will come down to Rs 27 lakh per trip from Rs 42 lakh a trip. Srinivas said this could only bring a temporary relief.

He said for the success of TGS as a tourism project, the government should constitute an independent authority similar to the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited.

He said a dedicated marketing fund or budget and a professional management were other prerequisites. Presently only three to four people are managing operations, marketing, accounts, and human resources, a responsibility to be shared by at least 15 people, Srinivas pointed out.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/287824/golden-chariot-charts-route-stay.html

Published in: on October 27, 2012 at 6:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Golden Chariot announces Special Summer Offer

For the first time since inception of this luxury rail tour service, the Golden Chariot train will embark on a 7 nights and 8 days Pride of the South itinerary in the month of April. The date of the journey is fixed on 16th of April and the booking for this special run will close on 12th of April.

The summer package of the Golden Chariot Pride of the South journey will include some new attractions and an array of special events to make this journey special one for the guests. Besides three World Heritage Sites which include Hampi Group of Monuments, the train will also cover Daroji Bear Sanctuary which is Asia’s largest Sloth Bear sanctuary.

Other highlights of this special summer package aboard the Golden Chariot include a special cultural show followed by lavish dinner at the Lalitha Mahal Palace in Mysore, complimentary spa service on board, elephant interaction program at Kabini and exclusively illuminated ‘Hampi at Night’.

To avail of this special summer offer by the Golden Chariot, the guests will have to pay INR 84000 per person per journey on triple occupancy basis whereas single occupancy rate of the journey will cost INR 140000 per person per journey.

The Golden Chariot train was introduced on the cues of the Palace on Wheels and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels to promote tourism in Karnataka and South India and cater specially to the rising demand of such luxury train journey among the overseas tourists. The train is designed to imbibe the cultural ethos and traditions of the South India and comes equipped with state of the art amenities which include restaurants, business center, gymnasium and a spa carriage.

http://www.indianluxurytrains.com/news/golden-chariot-summer-vacation-offer-23508.html

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Golden Chariot runs to full occupancy

Karnataka’s luxury train, The Golden Chariot, will run with full occupancy for the first time since its launch four years ago, when it chugs out of Bangalore on Monday for its ‘Pride of the South’ run across Karnataka and Goa.

For the only luxury train of south India, which faced challenges of occupancy, technical glitches and payment of haulage charges to the Indian Railways at the start of the tourist season in September 2011, the full occupancy seems to be a good comeback. In fact, the train saw six of its trips cancelled owing to these challenges this season.

In the 82 trips so far since its inception, 90 per cent occupancy rate had been the highest.

The train, operated by the State-owned Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC), can accommodate 88 travellers in its 44 cabins. “We have had travellers willing to pay premium rates to get accommodation on this trip, but they had to be turned down or accommodated in future trips,” train’s project director M. Srinivas, told The Hindu .

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article2864176.ece

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 7:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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States first luxury train to attract golfers

In its efforts to increase the occupancy levels in the state’s first luxury train, Golden Chariot, Karnataka State Tourism Department is planning to provide an opportunity for tourists to play golf in golf courses across the state during their journey.Department of Tourism Director K Viswanath Reddy said, “We have a set target to achieve, 55 per cent occupancy rates in the Golden Chariot this year and we are making plans to give an option of playing golf during the course of their trip. We have wonderful golf courses in the state and they are very affordable. Therefore, we are planning to include a visit to golf courses. Those interested in playing golf can visit the major tourist places and spend nearly three days playing golf in different courses across the state.”There are three golf courses in Bangalore Karnataka Golfers Association golf course near Old Airport Road, Eagleton Golf Course and Brigade Group’s golf course, each in Mysore, Hassan, Kodugu and Chikballapur.

Besides offering an option of playing golf the department is also planning to participate in the international trade fares to attract tourists to the state and to travel in the Golden Chariot. “We are expecting the bookings to pick up before the season starts,” Reddy added. The Golden Chariot recorded on 20 per cent occupancy in 2008, when it was newly introduced, 25 per cent in 2009 and 39 per cent in 2011. In its efforts to increase the occupancy levels and to provide different options to the tourists, the tourism department had recently extended the golden chariot to whole of South India with a rechristened package called southern splendour.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/states-first-luxury-train-to-attract-golfers/168361-60-119.html

Golden Chariot, Jet Airways enter pact to attract travellers

BANGALORE: The Golden Chariot, Karnataka’s luxury train, and Jet Airways entered into an understanding to market the luxury to both international and domestic travellers through ‘Golden Jet Escapes,’ a new package that was launched here on Monday.

The new package will target domestic travellers from metro destinations such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Goa and Kochi in India and to international travellers from New York, New Jersey, Toronto, London and Brussels. The offer will be available for both premier and economy class passengers on Jet Airways, and specially packaged fares will be provided by both The Golden Chariot and Jet Airways.

“Tie-ups with private sector for marketing tourist destinations in Karnataka become important at the present juncture. I am sure it (the partnership) will bring more tourists to Karnataka,” Tourism Minister G. Janardhan Reddy said after launching the package.

Stating that the Government was ready for partnerships with private sector, Mr. Reddy said that more projects to improve infrastructure at tourist destination would be taken up under Public-Private Participation (PPP) model. The memorandum of understanding was signed by Vinay Luthra, Managing Director of Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, that owns the train and Chief Commercial Officer of Jet Airways Sudheer Raghavan.

Destinations

For the tourists, the package will combine air travel and the luxury of The Golden Chariot that showcases some of the best places of historical, heritage and wildlife interests including Mysore, Kabini, Shravanabelogola, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal and Goa. “We will market the train through our in-flight entertainment, sales counters and across all offices,” said Mr. Raghavan.

He said: “We are delighted to partner with KSTDC to launch the Golden Jet Escapes initiative as part of our ongoing efforts to boost domestic travel and tourism,” he added.

“Sutradhar,” the quarterly onboard magazine, was also launched on the occasion.

KSTDC Chairman Siraj Sheikh, Principal Secretary (Tourism) K. Jyothiramalingam, Managing Director Jungle Lodges and Resorts N.D. Tiwari and Tourism Commissioner K. Vishwanath Reddy were also present.

http://www.hindu.com/2009/07/28/stories/2009072860370600.htm

Published in: on August 1, 2009 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Golf to be included in Golden Chariot’s itinerary

Bangalore, Jul 23 (PTI) The Golden Chariot – the luxury train which takes passengers on a royal odyssey from the garden city to the heritage site of Hampi will now boast of an added attraction – golf.

The promoters hit upon this idea to cater to markets like Japan, which are opening up to luxury tourism ventures like the Golden Chariot. “Introducing golf will be an added incentive to travel to this part of the country and enjoy the sport which they are very passionate about,” Project Director Golden Chariot, Anand Menon told PTI.

Karnataka has quite a few number of golf courses to boast of. Right from Bangalore, Mysore, Chikmagalur and Belgaum, the state has a number of golf courses of international standards.

“By adding golf in the itinerary we are attempting to add to the very definition of luxury per se.

Golden Chariot to target domestic market

The passenger train, under an ambitious project of Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC), had chugged off amidst much fanfare last year, reporting 37 per cent passenger occupancy.
“We are going on an aggressive market strategy to capitalise on the domestic market, given the downturn”, Anand Menon, Project Director Golden Chariot, said.
“While we have already tied-up with HDFC bank to offer loans spread over six to eight EMIs at zero per cent interest to those who wish to travel by this luxury train, we are also in talks with Jet Airways for a complete package for Karnataka tourists”, he said.

HDFC bank has also started an e-mail campaign on the Golden Chariot for its corporates, Menon said.
“We are interested in tapping the domestic traveller not only because he understands the subtle nuances of tourism but also has the financial capacity to undertake a Royal Odyssey”, he said.

Golden Chariot, which has a tariff of Rs 1.25 lakh per person for 7 nights/8 days, is now targeting “close to 50 per cent occupancy this year”, Menon said.

The train with a multi-cuisine restaurant, plush gym, a spa and well-stocked bar, commences the sojourn from Bangalore every Monday and traverses through destinations including Kabini, Mysore and the world heritage site of Hampi.Since its launch on March 10, 2008, the train had 37 commercial runs. The train incurred an initial loss of Rs 2 crore mainly due to the operational cost of Rs 20 lakh per run paid to the Indian Railways, Menon said.

However, compared to trains like Deccan Odyssey in India and Euro Rail and Orient Express which have been operating from the past 25 years, the Golden Chariot “is still in its infancy”, he said.

The train has been adjudged as “one of the top six trains of the world” by a leading global travel magazine “Condenast Traveller”, which officials said was “definitely an achievement”.

“In about two to three years time, we definitely are looking at substantially contributing to Karnataka tourism”, Menon said.

To woo the foreign travellers, “Santhes” (village markets) are being planned at historic stops of Belur, Halebid and Mysore to introduce tourists to rural art and crafts on one platform.

“We are also looking at capturing the foreign and NRI segments by doing road shows in Australia, Paris and Russia. While the Russian road show has been finalised for September, modalities for road shows in Australia and Paris are still being worked out”, Menon said.

The prestigious project, which has been showcased at renowned travel fairs in London, Berlin and Dubai, has generated “very encouraging enquiries by tour operators”, he said.

The project involving a joint investment of close to Rs 50 crore both by the state and Central governments, has gone through “some teething problems initially”, Menon admitted.

However, through regular monitoring of the feedback forms given to passengers, all out efforts are being made to sort out the problems”, he said.

Denying speculation that the train will be suspended for sometime, he said, “Though it is difficult to run the train during monsoon because of the high level of maintenance involved, extra care is being taken and we will run the train on an average two weeks every month, provided we get the bookings”.

On the passenger inflow, Menon said “from March till July 2008, it was more of domestic customers”.
A peak was witnessed from September 2008 to April 2009 “when we have run back to back”, he said.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/6612/golden-chariot-target-domestic-market.html