Willem Neimeijer, founder, Khiri Group
THAILAND-BASED Khiri Group is rebranding itself as Yaana Ventures as it moves to expand its other businesses while Khiri Travel retains its name and remains a vital DMC division.
Having roped in former Diethelm Travel CEO Richard Brouwer as CEO of Khiri Travel, founder of Khiri Group, Willem Neimeijer, has stepped up as chairman of Yaana Ventures and will be focusing on growing travel products that develop communities and the environment.
While the company is synonymous with the DMC-side of the business since Neimeijer founded it 22 years ago, less is known that it also operates GROUND, which arranges educational trips that develop communities, and the Anurak Community Lodge in Khao Sok, Thailand, and the Banteay Chhmar Tented Camp in Cambodia. As demand for authentic and meaningful travel products continue to rise, Neimeijer believes it’s time to expand GROUND and develop more lodges and tents.
Said Neimeijer: “At the core we are passionate about delivering authentic travel experiences. As a DMC, Khiri Travel has specialised in delivering this to tour operators but increasingly we find that we need to go further in the pursuit of this passion.
“For example, we co-founded and manage the Anurak Community Lodge simply because there was no property in the region that respects nature, the local community and delivers a good product at a reasonable price that we could use.
“We look for synergies in all our ventures, but are aware that each needs a separate, dedicated focus. In short, as entrepreneurs in the travel and hospitality sector, we have ambitions that required a new brand.”
On why the rebranding, which is done by QUO, is necessary, Neimeijer said: “First, it clarifies our aspirations in the travel and hospitality industry in Asia above and beyond the Khiri brand. Second, it frees Khiri Travel, with 22 years of experience, to focus on destination management. Third, Yaana gives space for each of its brands to take the lead and grow.”
Logo of Yaana Ventures
Yaana in Sanskrit embodies ‘journey of discovery’ and ‘entrepreneurial explorers and experienced partners’.
“There is a pattern among our ventures: they are all in the tourism and hospitality sphere, all focused on Asia and all with a distinctive company culture,” said Neimeijer.
Meanwhile, new CEO of Khiri Travel Brouwer aims for quality growth in light of a changed marketplace that demands experiential travel. “We prefer to commit the next five years to strengthening the foundation that has made Khiri Travel what it stands for today.
“Enabling growth for the tour operator today means that the ground partner must ensure that travellers who are leaving their holiday destination have experienced that destination to the fullest. Those experiences are different for each client, therefore a rich variety in product is absolutely essential.
“In plain economic terms, that should bring us a 100 per cent gain over the next five years.”