11 Jul 2019, 11:57 — 10 min read
Hooma and her husband Sudeep founded Travel Jaunts as a natural extension of their love for travelling. From a travel blog they have grown into a travel specialist company that organises a variety of group tours as well customised private tours in India and abroad.
We converted from a blog to a full-fledged travel business because there is market and demand in this business. But most importantly, we wanted to use our own travel experience to recommend and provide customised travel.
GL: Hooma, tell us how Travel Jaunts came into being?
Hooma: Travel Jaunts has been a natural outcome of our love for travel and our intention to solve our own travel challenges. We travel at the slightest opportunity that life provides and relive the moments as they become stronger and stronger memories. In last 15 years we have been to almost all states in India barring a few in north east and to almost 25 plus countries.
We started as a travel blog, and now have grown into a travel specialist company that does interest-based custom tours in India and abroad; and we focus on top experiences across various interest categories. For example, if your interest lies in wildlife, you will find top 10 wildlife experiences across the world curated by us on our site. Similarly, in art & history, beaches, architecture, festivals, spirituality etc you will find the best of the world’s experiences on our Travel Jaunts website.
We converted from a blog to a full-fledged travel business because there is market and demand in this business. But most importantly, we wanted to use our own travel experience to recommend and provide customised travel. The idea was to plan travel for others exactly the way we plan for ourselves.
We also intended to encourage various travel styles so that people can travel more and often. You will find all women tours, mother with kid tours, father with child bonding trips etc on our site. We personally travel like that. In a year both of us go for solo trips, travel as couple leaving our child with grandparents, then travel just with our parents and child when the other person can’t join. My son gets holidays many times a year and every time we can’t travel together as a family, so I travel alone with my son for days together. If my husband can join in between …good, if not then also its fine…and all this apart from the usual family vacations.
So, Travel Jaunts is simply a reflection of who we are as travellers and what we believe in.
GL: What has been the most effective way of raising awareness about your business?
Hooma: Both online and offline have been effective for us. Our online blogs helped establish our experience and knowledge in the field and got us fans and followers.
Offline networking has helped create a wider ecosystem that shapes the demand and also fulfilment. It helped us be in constant touch with customers and the expectations of travellers. I am part of many offline business networking groups.
GL: What are challenges for your business to grow bigger, better and faster from here? What are you doing to tackle them?
Hooma: During the startup stage, there are several challenges and as a woman I do have some additional challenges in terms of managing my home front. Coincidentally, my cook and my most dependable person at work always decide to leave me on the same day. Jokes apart, I would say hiring and retaining talent is the first challenge given that we have limited resources. At present we hire interns for our work, and plan to hire women who have taken a break and wish for flexibility in their second innings.
Secondly, cost of customer acquisition is quite high today as big players have huge investments and deep pockets to advertise (online and offline), and sell perhaps at negative margins, given that it is a volume game for them. For us, it is our personal touch and responsibility we take for our customers that differentiates their travel experience with us. We have created a niche in terms of our offerings and the segment that we want to cater to. Our clientele has specific interests for their travel, but lack time to research, and need someone trustworthy to provide them exactly what they want. For us, networking and word of mouth work the best.
Third challenge specific to travel business is choice of either scaling up or customise, since customisation does take time and the customers who want such custom travel plans are very demanding. There is a lot of going back and forth and it’s not necessary that your time will be respected by each customer. As a solution, we are coming up with a self-help app to generate part of our business with less intervention from our end.
GL: You are a Linker. Which offerings of GlobalLinker have helped you?
Hooma: GlobalLinker is a great platform if you need access to start ups, emerging SMEs and various businesses. Whether you are looking for specific vendors or looking at getting connections in B2B space for selling, you should join relevant networks like GlobalLinker. They say business success starts with visibility which leads to credibility which in turn leads to profitability. GlobalLinker provides ample opportunity for visibility, specifically the meetups organised city wise.
GL: What specific advice would you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Hooma: Most people like the fruits but no one likes the effort that goes into getting those fruits. Whether it’s your parents or spouse, you do need support or else the cost that you pay for your ambition becomes huge, including your health. So, couple of things I believe makes your environment conducive for you to thrive are -
GL: Are there any advantages or disadvantages of being a woman entrepreneur?
Hooma: There are both advantages and disadvantages of being a woman entrepreneur. The advantages being government support, subsidies and schemes specifically for women entrepreneurs. And of course, if your family is not financially dependent on you, you have much more freedom to decide on entrepreneurship
The disadvantage is mostly in the mindset of how people look at men and women and the perception of their roles.
GL: What is the next big thing on your business agenda?
Hooma: We are coming up with a self-help travel planning App which will address each and every aspect of travel decision making, with relevant research and booking all at one place. As per data, "On average, travel consumers spend 49 minutes spread over 46 days, visiting as many as 17 different online touchpoints to plan, research, and make a booking." We wish that our travel App becomes ‘the go to App’ for everyone’s travel planning. We want to treat travel planning as financial planning.
GL: We would love to know the person behind the entrepreneur.
Also read: Startup for startups
Network with Hooma Roy Choudhury by clicking on the 'Connect' button on her profile.
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Posted bySupriya Mathur
As part of the editorial team on GlobalLinker, I shine the spotlight on business owners who are doing exciting and innovative work by featuring them as part of our 'SME...