Founder and CEO, E-Bookers
Born in Australia, Dhamija grew up in India, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia and Holland. He married an airhostess – hence it’s no surprise he lords over a huge travel empire spanning across continents. After completing his MA in law from Cambridge University, he started his career with IBM and in 1980, along with his wife Tani, opened a travel agency, Dabin Travel Ltd, at Earl’s Court in London, which went on to become the Flight-Bookers travel agency in 1983. Later it became Britain’s top 10 travel agencies.
In 1996 came a piece of what he calls “absolute luck”. He was introduced to the huge possibilities that the Internet offers. “A friend of mine in Germany who developed a (software) booking engine called Sabre, brought it to me and said, “Why don’t you use this?” Though he was initially wary, he launched an Internet arm of E-bookers. He began to see the benefits when the orders rolled in. In 1999, he spun off the Internet arm as E-bookers raising £40 million.
In fact, E-bookers make 30 percent of its sales through shops and call centres. To avoid competition with low-cost, puddle-jumping carriers like Easy Jet, it focuses on the mid- and long-haul market. He made a cost-effective move by moving E-bookers’ central office with 400 jobs out of Britain to New Delhi in 2002. The move paid dividends with sales rising nearly 52 percent. Nearly all of that growth was organic, rather than through its steady stream of acquisitions.
Dhamija is worth over £100 million and figures regularly in the UK rich list. Dinesh and Tani Dhamija, along with their two sons, live in Westminster, London. You’re selling something to people that lets them go across the world,” he says with optimism. After all, his dream did pay off.