1. How did you end up working in the tourism industry?
If I had to give credit to anyone then it would be my mother. After completing my High School, and waiting for my results, my mother spoke to our neighbour, who had a trekking business, and asked him to allocate me in a job. I started working at a 16-room Guest House in Thamel just the day before I actually got my exam results. I was paid Rs 500 a month, in those days, and had to do everything at my job, as I was the only one there.
My initial job lasted for a couple of months, as I progressed to working as a store keeper for our neighbour’s trekking business. After a year, working in the trekking industry, I transferred to working in the office; I was then about 18 years old, running it with another colleague. Occasionally when they were short of guides, I would go out as a trek leader, too.
After working for five years, suddenly one day, our boss gave us, me and my colleague, a month of ‘holiday.’ We knew immediately that we were out of a job, but we kept it quiet within ourselves. We used to go out in the morning as if we were going to the office. However, after – about – six months of that situation, we decided to start a company of our own.
2. What inspired you to start this company?
After three years of running Himalayan Waves; our first company, with my partner, we went on to start a brand new company, Royal Mountain Trekking, with two other partners. We worked there for nine years, and eventually we realised we had different priorities, individual dreams. I was all for ploughing the profits back into the company, so I decided to go it on my own.
In 2005, I left with nothing more but my laptop. I bought a website and email address for 10,000 USD. This is the moment when Royal Mountain Travel was born, without any partners; I could go on now and achieve my dream
3. Describe your first sale/customer.
Even before the paperwork was finished, we had our first customer. Grace Tours in Denmark sent two Danish guests for a short tour in Nepal.
4. What was your first tour like – and what has changed compared to your most recent?
As I said, most of the business from Royal Mountain Trekking transferred over to Royal Mountain Travel. Though I continued to provide standard treks and tours in Nepal and Tibet, since then I have been focusing a lot more on providing experience and community-based holidays.
5. What part of the company are you most proud of and why?
Most definitely I am proud of my team, and I feel blessed to have such a good team. Right from the start, within weeks of starting up Royal Mountain Travel, I was encouraging my leaders, I still do, to take leaders’ training (all the leaders came with me from Royal Mountain Trekking). Some of my team members are, even, from the previous place where I worked as a teenager.
6. What do you feel sets your company apart from other DMC’s?
I believe in investing in Human Capital. Not only training, that wouldn’t be sufficient but we, the entire team, build up a pleasant working environment and we work close to each other, which make our company apart from other DMCs. Royal Mountain Travel’s best resource is its staff, its teamwork attitude.
7. What does a standard working day look like for you?
I usually wake up early (around 5.30am), get up and check my email. I make breakfast for my kids, read newspapers, later drop the children off to get their school bus and then come to the office. The day is usually filled with meeting staff, discussing with them all sorts of things. I have lunch with everyone in the office and then sometimes in the afternoon, various suppliers or business colleagues might drop by, or I might visit them. I usually finish around 7 pm, and sometimes go out to business dinners a few times a week with clients or agents. Although I’m busy, I really make sure I keep two days a week totally free for my family.
8. What gets you out of bed in the morning? / What keeps you up at night?
I’m consistently searching for new ideas. I’m not really profit orientated human being, but what I want to do is betterment for my team, but as a whole for the community. When I wake up, I’m thinking about what is new for today.
I’m not a good sleeper. I suppose I’m, rather, a day-dreamer as I’m constantly thinking about what needs to be done. As we work in a team, I do not think that only concerns myself but about my entire team, and its progression.
9. What other CEO’s do you look up to and why?
I adore people who keep a low profile, despite their success. CEOs that run big and successful businesses, but still successful in leading a normal life is what inspires and encourages me. In particular, I admire Bruce Poon, the founder of G Adventure. I like the company and company’s culture, and their efforts to emulate it. I, personally, keep my profile to a very minimum, and I respect people who do this, too.
10. where do you see the company in 5 years?
Royal Mountain Travel is already the top five, favourite, trekking companies in Nepal, but yet we all believe there are, still, so many things to learn. We work hard, as a swarm of bees, to fit and evolve with the changing time. Last but not the least, what I want to convey is that Royal Mountain Travel is not just a travel company but it’s an institution that is operated by the community for the community. In the last five years, we have successfully converted many ideas into reality. We built homestays around finically weak communities of Nepal, to uplift their economic conditions. We have been encouraging housewives, women, to get involved in such homestay programs; we believe if a mother of a house gets stronger, the whole family becomes stronger. As a motivation, and to boost their confidence, we provide English learning courses to them. So that, in the near future, they can take care of their guests all by themselves. We are also helping vulnerable communities by providing working opportunities in our related firms.
Hence, in five years we predict that Royal Mountain Travel will be an absolute community oriented company.