What is love if it doesn’t turn your world upside down! Well, that’s just the “itch” Savita and Madhu Nair experienced.Being married for ten years now, this couple decided to quit their corporate jobs in California and fly to India. If you are thinking same old story, nah hold your horses.
Story goes…in 2009 Madhu and Savita took a leap out of their mundane life, and decided to go on a road trip for two whole years! That’s not all. They had their dog Shayna as a faithfully travel companion. “We started off on the trip on our 10th wedding anniversary, hence the name 10YearItch,” shares Savita.
10YearItch was morphed out of their personal blog, which chronicled the couple’s 2 year travel through India. Few months into the journey, the blog gained popularity and people planning trips to India started seeking travel advice from Madhu and Savita.
Most of the people who approached Madhu and Savita to help plan their trip itineraries did not want to go through travel agents simply because they didn't think that these companies would know more than what they could learn on their own by reading blogs and/or by participating in online travel forums.
The couple actively started working on the concept in March 2011 and the travel company was formed. “We wanted to create a travel outfit which we ourselves would have loved to go to for planning trips to India,” adds Savita.
Riding on the success of their blog, 10YearItch, the travel company got its initial set of customers who were direct converts from the blog. “In our case, client groups become dormant once they complete their trip. We have about 25 dormant and 10 active client groups,” informs Madhu.
10YearItch caters to a niche segment, 80% of their clients are planning their holiday through a travel company for the very first time, and they usually prefer planning trips on their own. It’s primary service is providing customized trips in India, based on the traveling group’s interest, time of intended travel and budget. For now 10YearItch Travel Company caters to inbound personal travel. In the future they intend to explore opportunities in the corporate segment (MICE). The inbound travel segment for India is about $16 Billion per annum. Out of this, 10 Year Itch’s focus is on the mid to high-tier segment, which is close to $5 Billion per year.
This booming sector has its challenges. In India, tourism is still quite disorganized! Savita adds, “Finding reliable partners was a challenge when we initially started this venture. However, we have now finally found the right people to work with.”The company is a two member team based out of Santa Clara (California,USA), also having operations in Gurgaon (India). Savita and Madhu have worked as software professionals and they believe that it has now come handy in managing the technology behind the venture. This has helped them not only in having greater quality control but also keep the administration costs down. They have partnered with providers in India for backend support and logistics.
10YearItch has been self-funded but will look for funding in the near future to scale operations. With just the two of them managing the company, implementing fresh ideas in a timely manner is a challenge, they say.
Savita and Madhu are still soaking in the business of their loving affair!
- Aminah Sheikh