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Curious encounters in Sri Lanka

Feizal Samath

WHO Rukmankan Sivaloganathan (below), co-founder and CEO of Trekurious.com, an experiential travel and lifestyle company based in Sri Lanka, was formerly a well-paid banker but felt that “something was missing” in his previous job.


During a visit to Hindu temple ruins in Cambodia on a group tour, the assigned guide fell ill and was quickly replaced on-site by an archaeologist who gave the visitors a whole new paradigm on Cambodian culture, history and their way of life.


“This was my eureka moment,” he recalled.


In his current role, Rukmankan leads Trekurious.com in its strategy, product and business development, and seeks to fill the many gaps in the high-end travel market.


WHAT Trekurious.com offers a wide range of experiences to travellers. Instead of tour guides, the company arranges for meetings with architects, historians, authors and sportspersons who play hosts for the duration of the tour.


“We find a great experience, curate it by putting it together, find a good host, structure it, test it, trial it and then take it online,” Rukmankan elaborated.


Interested parties select the experience or activity on the website and make a booking. A confirmation email will then be sent with all the necessary information.


Examples of tours include a Dodgy Bar Tour of Colombo, where a local will take visitors through the city’s oldest watering holes and relate quirky facts relating to the origins and history of each bar while sipping on local beers.


Travellers can also try their hand at making traditional Sri Lankan masks – from the carving and whittling to the painting and decoration.


They could also visit a restaurant and learn how to cook Sri Lankan food from a chef, enjoy the dishes and leave with detailed recipes to recreate them at home.


WHY Sivaloganathan believes that travellers today are discerning and prefer an active holiday that provides a variety of experiences, instead of a group tour package with standard offerings.


He has also observed that once a visitor has had a unique experience, they eventually return for more, becoming repeat customers.



TARGET Trekurious.com has two business models: travel experiences and lifestyle experiences. The first category usually comprises middle-aged travellers who hail from the UK, the US, Australia and India. The second category caters mostly to 20- to 50-year-old Sri Lankans and expats.


Since opening in 2013, the company has hosted hundreds of foreign and local travellers on many curated travel experiences.


In addition to its B2C component, the company also sells B2B packages through DMCs keen on enriching their itineraries with hosted events. To date, the company has dealt with six DMCs in Sri Lanka and has conducted 30 experiences through them.

 

 

This article was first published in TTG Asia, May 6, 2016 issue, on page 13. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe