Deepa Krishnan of Mumbai Magic: a Case Study in Online (and offline!) Success

Deepa Krishnan of Mumbai Magic: a Case Study in Online (and offline!) Success

Mumbai Magic


I had the pleasure of meeting Deepa Krishnan when we were planning a trip to India. Our plan had been to create our own itinerary and book tours with local guides in each city we visited. I searched online in order to find guides, starting with our stay in Mumbai. Deepa’s company ‘Mumbai Magic’ came up at the top of the search. I did look at a few of the other company links but Mumbai Magic immediately stood out – not only was the website attractive but the information provided was exactly the type I was looking for. Actually, it answered questions I had not yet thought of which, I believe, is the sign of an excellent site. It was informative, attractive and laid out with ME in mind.

I spent quite a bit of time on the site, learning about her services but more importantly, learning more about what my trip would and could be like. Having never been to India before, I had read a few travel books and spoken to friends but the site made it all real – she outlined suggested itineraries, included traveler testimonials and had lots and lots of photos. I was also happy to see that she not only served Mumbai but all of the other cities we planned to visit.

I reached out to Deepa via email, after that first website visit, with some specific questions. The next morning, I had a personal reply waiting for me. I was so impressed – not only had the owner replied directly but all worries about cultural, language or time delays were immediately dispelled by the beautifully worded, timely reply. After a few more exchanges where she learned more about our interests and goals (we did not want a ‘touristy’ experience, we were very interested in meeting and touring with locals and only had 2 weeks), she had flipped our itinerary around, streamlined our stops and whipped it into shape. Her experience ‘hosting’ so many different visitors gave her the perspective needed to tell us yes, we COULD see all those temples in a single day and no, those two places are too far to visit without a driver. She found us local hotels that were inexpensive, clean, cool and offered fabulous service that I would never have found or booked without her. She is based in Mumbai but had a team in each of the cities she served which gave us a sense of comfort even though we were half a world away from home. Her invaluable insights and suggestions made our trip a happy and memorable one.
But this is a blog about optimizing your online presence and sharing case studies which show you how people in various industries are using online tools to grow their businesses. Deepa has done an amazing job growing her business (she shares stats on her impressive growth at the end of the interview) starting with a basic online presence and parlaying her expertise into numerous publicity opportunities. Her warm and gregarious personality, professionalism and abundant energy certainly help but, as she says below, it all started with her website.I always advise clients to make sure that their online hub is in place first. For someone like Deepa, this was especially important as her potential clients, if they are going to find her, will be searching online. Her site it not a very elaborate or expensive endeavor. What it is, is PACKED with useful info and wonderful photos. In addition to the basic text, there is also a blog which she updates regularly. The blog is full of tips and articles about all aspects of India life, culture and politics. What makes it especially interesting is that she also shares posts written by her Mother and Daughter, giving you multiple perspectives and real insight into the country and its people. Between our correspondence while planning the trip and the blog posts, when I finally met Deepa in person, she felt like an old friend.When I got back, I knew that many of you could learn from her experiences and tactics. She was kind enough to sit for a few minutes and share some insights into her success!

Deepa Krishnan:My business is entirely online (through referrals and reviews and internet searches), and it has grown significantly over the last 4 years (when I actually quit my consulting / banking finance career).I started with an interesting website with the focus on “never been done before in Mumbai” tour ideas. So all I really looked at while making the site was good relevant content and simple navigation. This paid off quickly. Within a very short period, the site had great google rankings, and eventually in a year it became the No. 1 search result if you typed “Mumbai tours” on google. I think it is still number 1, not sure. You can check by typing “Mumbai tours”. In those days there was a website called Mumbai on the Net, a sort of city portal, which was the top ranking site if you typed “Mumbai” on google. I wrote some content for the owner, and he in turn, listed me on his site. This pushed a lot of traffic towards me. Once people came to the Mumbai Magic website, they stayed there. I realized my website had a lot of “stickiness” – that the tour ideas grabbed attention and kept it there. People didn’t leave the site out of boredom, they lingered.

My blog also helped. I had started blogging in 2006, writing a very high quality blog about Mumbai, with lots of photos of things that people don’t usually photograph. The blog linked back to the website and drove traffic to the site, but more importantly, it got me media attention. Especially when my mum and my daughter started writing in it, and it became a 3-generation blog. Soon the blog got listed on Nat Geo’s Mumbai Travel Guide and on CNN-Go, then I got interviewed on CNN, then some TV-show producers contacted me for content on authentic travel (a show for Discovery Channel called Not Your Average Travel Guide). Since then I have done 3 more TV shows, one for BBC, one for iTV, an one for the History Channel ( Then the Amex Departures interview happened, and then an article in Conde Nast, and listings in the print media. Frommers was hugely appreciative of what I was doing. The Indian print media meanwhile had understood that my offbeat offerings were newsworthy, and I myself was something of a non-conformist oddball so they began to write about me parallel, I had started to offer high quality travel advice online as a volunteer on tripadvisor, eventually I was nominated Destination Expert for several cities in India, and finally became the only Destination Expert for India as a whole. Lots of people would read the advice I offered and contact me for help in arranging their India trip. This got to the point where I had to actually set up office and staff in Delhi just to deal with the workload.Our “order book” of tours booked by people each year is below. In India we follow a financial year starting 1 Apr and ending 31 Mar:

2007-2008: Rs 2 million – at the end of this year, I finally quit consulting

2008-2009: Rs 5 million – my first year of full time business

2009-2010: Rs 25 million

2010-2011: Rs 42 million

2011-2012: Rs 62 million – this is the year that just ended this March 31, 2012 (FYI 62M Rs = 1.1+M USD)

In addition to establishing her expertise via the website, blog and travel sites, she also maintains an active Facebook presence, regularly posting fabulous photos and unique views of the beautiful cities she showcases. The combination of the powerful online presence, her well established expertise and her full on delivery of high quality customer service have helped her grow tremendously over the past few years and she is now poised to be in 25 Indian cities. Now THAT is a great success story!


  • It starts with a content rich website filled with information your potential clients/customers/patients are looking for.
  • Quick, personalized responses to email inquiries go a long way to help people feel comfortable doing business with you.
    • Make sure that the person replying to the emails can communicate clearly – this is NOT only a concern for international companies!  How often do you receive email that is incoherent or filled with typos? Sadly, my guess is that many of those were sent by American companies.
  • Know your stuff – Deepa and her people live in India. They know what the weather and traffic is like, firsthand. They have visited the sites and hotels. This is a huge advantage over some international switchboard making a reservation for you. She knows and loves her destinations and it shows!
  • Share your expertise – Deepa’s shared her knowledge and advice on numerous sites, establishing herself as a ‘go-to’ person for all things related to travel in India. This has, in turn, helped her sales.
  • Go the extra mile – provide great customer experience on the ground, not just online and via email!  Whether we were in Delhi, Mumbai, Agra or any of the other cities we visited, the people Deepa connected us with were all attentive, helpful, polite, professional and unbelievably patient (the traffic there is insane – and they patiently navigated it in a way that I repeatedly found amazing!)
  • Be social -sharing online via blogs, Facebook and other social media help spread your word and amplifies your message.
  • Love what you do – Deepa loves India, loves meeting people and is quick to share suggestions, recipes or whatever is needed. This is a helpful trait in most businesses but even if you are a more reserved person, customers can tell when you love what you do and it is contagious!

Thank you Deepa, for generously sharing your  insights!

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