Q&A with Vijay Nair on National Geographic Expeditions’ enriching travel experiences for Indians

Curated itineraries with National Geographic experts to offer incredible access to some of the world’s most exotic locations.
National Geographic Expeditions
National Geographic Expeditions

March 22, 2019: As Indian travellers look for rich travel experiences in a burgeoning luxury travel industry, National Geographic Expeditions launches in India.

Urging people to gather authentic experiences and explore the unknown, National Geographic Expeditions will help Indian travellers gain access to people and places, get enriched by the knowledge of National Geographic experts and guides.

Furthermore, when you travel with National Geographic Expeditions you give back since proceeds from National Geographic Expeditions’ travel programs support the National Geographic Society’s efforts to increase global understanding through exploration, education and scientific research.

Gary Knell, Chairman of National Geographic Partners announced the launch of National Geographic Expeditions as a part of his tour of India and unveiled the India-specific website.

Imagine observing lions on the prowl in the Serengeti with a wildlife biologist, examining ancient ruins in Peru with an archaeologist, or shooting images in Italy alongside a National Geographic photographer.

From photography to history to marine biology, our National Geographic experts offer enriching expedition experiences through fascinating presentations and informal discussions.

The customised trips have been offered globally and will now be available to discerning Indian travellers in local currency with completely localised fulfilment and servicing for the travel bookings.

Creating authentic and memorable experiences, the National Geographic Expeditions trips are designed to reflect travellers’ broad spectrum of interests and enable truly experiential travel. 

<em>National Geographic Expeditions</em>
National Geographic Expeditions

National Geographic Expeditions was founded to support the National Geographic Society's 131-year mission to inspire people to care about the planet by providing meaningful opportunities to explore it.

Each expedition invites travellers to explore and encounter the wonders of the world up close, in depth, right at the source, and be transformed by the experience. 

Commenting on the National Geographic Expeditions launch in India, Gary Knell, Chairman of National Geographic & Partners said, “National Geographic Expeditions span the globe on all seven continents and are designed to reflect our travellers’ broad spectrum of interests.

"We are delighted to bring National Geographic Expeditions to free-spirited Indian travellers and are looking forward to providing them with authentic travel experiences. The itineraries designed under the program will help travellers immerse themselves in the heart of the places and cultures they visit.

"Moreover, our Expeditions will be accompanied by a National Geographic expert- including photographers, explorers and writers- for an unrivalled travel experience. We are hopeful that with this proposition, we will be able to cater to people who believe in not just visiting a destination but truly exploring.”

Vijay Nair, Associate Vice President & Country Head, National Geographic Expeditions

Vijay Nair, Associate Vice President & Country Head - National Geographic Expeditions, speaks with Indulge about their plans.

What is National Geographic Expeditions and what makes it so unique?
As a brand, National Geographic stands for the spirit of exploration and delving in the ambiguities of the world.

For more than 131 years, we have sent our explorers across continents and into remote cultures, down to the oceans’ depths, and up the highest mountains, in an effort to better understand the world and our relationship with it.

National Geographic Expeditions grew from this legacy as a way to invite others to explore the wonders of the world up-close and in-depth, and be transformed by the experience.

Through Expeditions, travellers will gain access to people and places, get enriched by the knowledge of National Geographic experts and guides, and give back to the National Geographic Society’s researchers and explorers who work to preserve, protect, and advance our understanding of the planet and its people. That is the National Geographic difference.

What prompted you to bring this property for Indian travellers?
Travel space in India has evolved over the past two decades, the industry has experienced a significant growth backed by the evolving demand of Indian travellers for immersive travel experiences.

In a burgeoning travel industry, Indians are increasingly looking for rich travel experiences while progressing towards the culture of exploring the unexplored.

Hence, capitalizing on the current growth and travel trends, we have recently launched National Geographic Expeditions, which will not only be a one-stop solution for immersive travel experiences but also a way in supporting our work and be a catalyst for change built on the spirit of sustainable travel.

National Geographic Expeditions

What is National Geographic Expeditions’ key differentiator when compared to other businesses offering travel packages?
National Geographic Expeditions span the globe and is designed to reflect our travellers' broad spectrum of interests.

With National Geographic Expeditions, one can travel on land, aboard small ships, along classic train routes, and in the comfort of a private jet and cruises to some of the most secret and best-preserved destinations on the planet.

Each expedition offers boundless opportunities to be surrounded by natural wonders and exotic wildlife, to explore celebrated archaeological sites, to learn about different cultures and share in local traditions.

While travelling with us, travellers will gain access to people and places. They will get enriched by the knowledge of our experts and guides, and by local experts, they’ll meet along the way. 

National Geographic opens doors around the globe: Our relationships with scientists, storytellers, museums, and active research sites allow us special access to places and people, including our own grantees, whose field sites we visit wherever we can.

Travelling with us, give travellers an opportunity to go behind the scenes and get a close-up view of work that’s helping illuminate and protect the world’s cultural and natural treasures, from archaeological excavations in Italy to whale conservation in Alaska to the celebration of an ancient Aboriginal culture in the Australian outback.

Travellers will gain knowledge when they travel with National Geographic - from the scientists, photographers, and explorers who lead our trips to the local guides and experts we meet in the field, they’ll be surrounded by people who are steeped in knowledge and insights about the places we go. And they’re passionate about sharing that knowledge with them.

National Geographic Expeditions aims to fulfil the Society's mission to inspire people to care about the planet by providing meaningful opportunities to explore it.

Proceeds from all travel programs support the Society’s efforts to increase global understanding through exploration, education and scientific research.

National Geographic Expeditions

What are some of the popular packages under National Geographic Expeditions?
Some of the popular packages include:

Emblematic Antarctica
Discover the Antarctic on a polar expedition cruise to the heart of the icy realm that is the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea.

Embark on an unforgettable 11-day voyage and succumb to the enchantment of the breathtaking landscapes inhabited by astonishing wildlife. 

Around the World by Private Jet
Embark on a globe-trotting expedition featuring 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites, from Easter Island to the Great Barrier Reef.

Alongside a team of National Geographic experts in the field of marine biology, anthropology, archaeology, and palaeontology, the expedition will help travellers gain insight into local cultures. 

Tanzania Photo Safari
An absolute treat for photography enthusiasts who can learn how best to work with movement and light as they get to frame dazzling herds of zebra, lolling lions, and a colourful spectrum of birds.

The Great Apes of Uganda and Rwanda
Set off on a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the lush hills of Uganda and Rwanda to encounter chimpanzees and mountain gorillas in the wild.

Observe chimpanzees with a primatologist, and track gorillas in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park.

Stay in stunning lodges, from a lakeside bungalow at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains to a hilltop eco-lodge with spectacular views of Rwanda’s volcanoes. 

National Geographic Expeditions

What is the role of the National Geographic Society in this property? How Explorers contribute towards Expeditions?
National Geographic Expeditions is committed to sustaining the character and integrity of each place we visit—its environment, culture, and heritage.

Each expedition is accompanied by National Geographic experts including scientists, photographers and explorers, who are part of National Geographic Society.

They make sure that travellers gain knowledge when they travel with us — whether they’re face-to-face with an elephant in the Serengeti, listening to a wildlife biologist explain its every move, or gazing up at prehistoric cave paintings with a palaeontologist in France.

We ensure that these travellers are surrounded by people who are steeped in knowledge and insights about the places they visit.

How can people choose packages? Are there only pre-defined packages or NGE allows travellers to curate one of their own?
There is a dedicated website to support the India business of National Geographic Expeditions as well a beautifully crafted brochure.

There is a dedicated contact centre set up through the GSA partner to assist in facilitating the enquiries and assist in the booking process. Along with the pre-curated itineraries, the custom expeditions provide travellers with the opportunity to curate their own expeditions across destinations. 

National Geographic Expeditions

Do you think National Geographic Expeditions will make Indian travellers more evolved in terms of exploration?
In a luxury travel space, there is an increasing demand for “experiential travel,” which is typically meant to convey the idea of more immersive, local, authentic and adventurous travel. People now want to travel better, on a deeper emotional and more personal level.

Rather than saving up for luxurious possessions, people are opting for unforgettable experiences.  In a highly connected world, they are constantly on a lookout for rich and unconventional travel experiences through various mediums.

Hence, in an endeavour to fuel their desire for enriching and immersive travel experiences, we have come up with National Geographic Expeditions, which is all about life-defining travel experiences and exploration.

Through its propositions and exclusive niche offerings, we see tremendous growth in this emerging yet quite significant market.

National Geographic Expeditions

What is your target segment for this business and what kind of partnerships do you have presently?
We are not targeting a particular age group but a mindset and with the growth of a burgeoning class of people who are travelling and the overall industry, National Geographic Expeditions is a great offering for those who want to explore beyond travelling.

Forged around the common values of adventure, passion for exploring and a thirst for discovery, Ponant and National Geographic have chosen to work together to offer all travel, discovery and nature lovers the opportunity to embark on new expedition cruises to some of the most secret and best-preserved destinations on the planet.

Being the World Leader in Luxury Expeditions to polar regions, Ponant boasts a modern fleet of small expedition ships that are designed to respect the environment and marine life and sail distant seas in comfort and safety.

The full fleet has been ‘clean ship’ certified and offers a number of leading-edge technologies to protect the environment, including recycling and reuse programmes, reduced exhaust emissions and sustainable purchasing practices.

Additionally, we have appointed FCM Travel Solutions as a GSA to facilitate the booking of these exciting packages in the Indian market as well as distribute the trips to the B2B travel agent network.

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