Heena Sampat in Conversation with Karuna Pai
Karuna Pai Mar 01, 2019 800 Views 0 Comments
“Travel makes one modest. You can see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
- Gustav Flaubert
Karuna Pai: You have grown Horizon Travel from a Start Up to a Successful business today; however, did you take any training before starting your career as Travel Consultant?
Heena Sampat: My Journey started when I got an opportunity to work as a travel consultant. In my ﬁrst interview the hiring manager asked about my work experience, I told him “I don't have experience but if you give me a chance, I will prove myself.” I think it was my ﬁrst step towards creating world of my choice.
Karuna Pai: When did you decide to go into business for yourself and launch Horizon Travel?
Heena Sampat: In 2001 the tragic attack of 9/11 shook the nation. One of the aftermaths was travel took a setback and businesses were closing down including the travel company I worked for. I realized that travel business and customer service is my passion and I started Horizon Travel LLC in 2001. As I always believe, "business plans can be written on paper but not life plans".
Karuna Pai: During the course of growing your business what were some of the challenges you had to overcome?
Heena Sampat: My biggest challenge was devising online and social media marketing strategy. Today online marketing is the most eﬀective tool to promote any business including travel. We are not only reaching out to baby boomers but also focusing on Millennials and Gen Z. We are trying to explain the diﬀerence between online travel agencies and the ones who We grew our business while adding the latest technology including an online portal www.horizontrip.com where we sell best airfares, beating any online price. Online may get you the cheapest deals but not necessarily the best deals. Our consultation will get you both. we serve as travel concierges who plan your dream vacations, customizing and ensuring your trip is perfect. All of your travel plans are always specially designed as per your budget, interest, time. We diﬀerentiate by providing best quality of hotels & tours spending less amount of money. As the CEO of Horizon Travel LLC, I can assure our service starts at your ﬁrst call & we are committed to providing the best service all the way till your return. We have a Dedicated Team to cater to you 24/7 for all your travel needs. For example, our travel expertise helps clients to decide between selecting Kruger National Park or Serengeti National Park or knowing the diﬀerence between an Ocean View vs. Ocean Front room in a beach resort.
Karuna Pai: You have won several awards and in 2018 you were the winner of the ‘Enterprising Woman of the Year’ award. What advise do you have for anyone starting a new profession?
Heena Sampat: First, before starting any career think twice. Pursue the career where your passion lies, because you will give your 100% and will be the best at it. Secondly, check market data. Even if you have the best product but there is no demand for that product you may not be successful. Thirdly, make your plans for the next 2 to 3 years and take tiny steps. I never say think big but take a tiny step with perfection, honesty and most importantly transparency with your Clients.This will bring success in business. And lastly, never get greedy to make a quick buck. Entrepreneurship comes automatically. For any Entrepreneur the path is never designed the way they would ideally want it, but it is in their nature to overcome the diﬃculties in their way and this makes them successful.
Karuna Pai: What are some less known spots that will gain popularity in 2019?
Heena Sampat: Havana Cuba and Andaman Islands, India. These are two destinations that will gain more popularity. Cuba government is doing a lot to promote tourism and the same with Andaman. All of us have heard of Maldives, going to Maldives on a smaller jet is an exciting experience. While talking to one of Maldives resident, who shared “our islands are so tiny that if I stand on one end and shout, you can hear on the other end” (laughs). For me Capri Island, lake Com,o Amalﬁ coast was my dream destination which I visited last year.
In my various presentations; blogs about different ways to explore Alaska. I mentioned that Alaska can be toured via rail, road or cruise. So, if clients want to visit Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour or Gold Dredge Tour in Fairbanks we can guide them accordingly. Horizon Travel is a travel store where we oﬀer all travel related services. Our team has updated knowledge of latest hotels, resorts, cruises etc. and we keep giving updates to clients of the new features.For instance this year there are 6 new cruise ships coming out - Viking Jupiter, Sky Princess, Carnival Panorama to list a few.
Karuna Pai: What do you love most about your work and what’s one accomplishment you are proud of?
Heena Sampat: A smile on my client & face, comments/compliments shared by them, often I receive ﬂowers and gifts thanking me for a vacation they enjoyed. At the same time, when I receive a phone call from a client who tells me I helped them see their loved one, one last time before their demise, which brings tears to your eyes but I feel lucky that I am able to help people.
Karuna Pai: What is one Give Back initiative you are passionate about and involved within the community
Heena Sampat: Creating Bone Marrow Registry awareness in South Asian Community in US & India. Cancer is a disease which is very serious problem of the community and Bone marrow registry awareness is one thing we are spreading, especially in Asian and Indian community which is large in America, India and other parts of the world. 52% of Americans do bone marrow registry while only 20% of Asians and Indians are registered. So, when looking for a match it becomes really tough due to lack of people registering. We sincerely urge the youth especially within the age range of 18-30 years to register. It will help save someone's life. Bone marrow is not related to bone, the doctor just draws blood, saves your record and will call you if needed. You have the capability to save someone's life without any risk to you.
Karuna Pai: You have grown Horizon Travel from a Start Up to a Thriving Business, what is the secret of your success?
Heena Sampat: Secret of my success lies in steady and continuous growth, understanding niche market and giving best customer service. We approach small businesses that really need travel services and we are successfully increasing in numbers. International business is increasing day by day. Companies are realizing the value of personalized meetings and interviews. I am really thankful to my coworkers & entire Horizon Travel team for making my company successful and I also want to thank my clients who spread the word about our services, giving us repeated business & sharing through social media.
Message for the Toppick viewers
“Path of success does not have short cuts. Find a good mentor from whom you can learn. Take smart decisions in your business and life and you will create a world of your choice”.