Global goals for a made-in-India travel channel
A travel channel aimed at a global audience, highlighting the beauty and diversity of India, not its squalor and grime. TravelXP came to life in 2011 with this objective; cut to 2018, the English language channel has reached over 90 million homes across the world. It’s also the first channel to introduce 4K HDR technology — the next generation of high-definition content. t2 caught up with TravelXP founder Prashant Chothani to know what it takes to create a 24x7 travel channel out of India.
What does TravelXP offer its viewers?
TravelXP has filmed in more than 53 countries and we are filming in six countries as we speak. So today, if a viewer is watching our channel, he is getting exposed to those 53 countries. So you’re constantly pushed with new aspirational travel content and this is a 100 per cent travel channel with no in-studio filming.
So a consumer will either say, “Oh, I want to go there” or “One day I will go there”. Even if you have been there, say, for example, if you’re a Bengali living in Calcutta, I will show you an episode on the city where you will realise that you don’t know so many things.
One of the main premises of starting this channel was to show Indians what India is about, because it’s so vast. We realised that in all Indian travel shows that were made by international channels, the portrayal of our country was very bad. They would start with Dharavi or some other slum and show the worst. I believe every country has good and bad and we chose to show the good and that was one of the principles with which we began. The second was to create a global media brand out of India, targeting mainstream audiences abroad.
How is it different from other lifestyle channels?
There are no travel channels... they are all lifestyle channels. Producing travel content is very, very difficult. The difference between them and us is that we are 100 per cent travel. Whenever you switch to our channel, you will see beautiful, panoramic shots and original content. Also, nowadays most of the travel content is AFP (advertiser-funded programme). So that takes away from a travel show. Till date, we have never done an on-the-face AFP. Everything is produced from an editorial point of view and keeping in mind what needs of the traveller it will fulfil.
What’s new in the bouquet of offerings from the channel?
Technologically, we gave the world its first 4K HDR channel and being an Indian company, to be able to do that is amazing. We started filming in high-definition in 2008 and started filming in 4K HDR in 2014-15 and launched it in December 2016 in the US. You will see much better destinations with TravelXP 4K being launched in India. We are also planning to deep-dive into Europe as the first- and second-tier places have already been done.
You have also forayed into the UK market recently. How is that going?
We launched in the UK on April 30 and we have being seeing very encouraging ratings. We launched in Singapore last month, available with Chinese subtitles, and we are already in half a million homes.
Coming to Bengal, how would you tweak your content to fit in viewers from here?
We have filmed a lot of places in Bengal and will continue to do so. You can never say you’re done with India. My wife (Nisha Chothani) looks after all the content and she lives and breathes it. According to research by my team, Bengalis are among the top three travel-enthusiasts in the country and that is why we launched TravelXP in Bengali and we were already present here with Sangeet Bangla.
What are some of the latest travel trends?
Indians are now travelling a lot within the country. Travel has become a need in the last 10 years. The change has happened in stages, through different age groups and tiers of cities, but has happened. The concept of long weekends has also started recently.
We are a price-sensitive market and so we plan and book in advance. The traveller’s aspiration is on the rise but there is still a long way to go and it looks like it will happen fast. And as for trends like ecotourism, I think one should be conscious all the time. There’s nothing like ecotourism as everything will be eco-conscious, moving forward.