Chetan Yallapurkar calls himself a travel freak, an adventure junkie and an entrepreneur. He loves traveling, cooking, dancing and photography. Calling his startup a reflection of his personality won’t be wrong as it involves a lot to do with traveling, finding the perfect destination for dancing (read wedding destinations) and photography too. He is a mechanical engineer from MSRIT, Bangalore, alumnus of IIM Lucknow and founder of Honeymoon Havens.
Honeymoon Havens is a premium honeymoon planner which caters to newlyweds and couples looking for an anniversary trip. This Bangalore-based startup founded in 2012 has recently added a new service — find your dream wedding destination. We met Chetan at MobileSparks in December, and he told us he was looking for a mobile app developer.
Chetan has worked with Makemytrip & Yatra to understand the online travel business better. He shared his journey of Honeymoon Havens with YourStory and his plans to make a mark in the personalized travel planning space. Hear it from Chetan:
It all happened at a friend’s wedding in late 2012. All my friends were gathered to celebrate. I saw a large number of people who were soon to get married. Everybody knew me as the travel guy and hence the right person to recommend honeymoon destinations. I thought that it is a great time to be a ‘romantic’ entrepreneur. The honeymoon market space in India is huge and untapped. There are major OTAs (online travel agencies) offering this service but they lack personalization.
We focus only on customized trips and meet each client to understand what connects them the most. Couples enjoy the privilege of being heard and served with a holiday that suits their taste. The market for personalized honeymoon travel planning is fairly large.
We offer more than 50 romantic honeymoon destinations, personalized travel planning, a transparent pricing model, reliable services and honeymoon freebies too. We also offer assistance in selecting wedding destinations. We are targeting clients who are more experience driven than cost driven. We also assist people who have tight budgets with few reliable partners in the trade. We work on commission and service fee based model. We are able to survive with the bottom line we make.
I have seen the effects of working in a large travel company. Employees work for salary and not to ensure client satisfaction. Each year we would want to add 500 new couples in our list and get some honeymoon experts added to our team.
Everything hasn’t been rosy in my journey. I was rejected upfront for a bank loan and told that I can’t apply for the next three years. I felt helpless and had a hard time digesting it. That was the first taste of entrepreneurship curry. I said to myself ‘one to a million, a million to a million dollars’, and started with whatever little money I had. We also made a mistake of trying to do beyond our scope. We were doing flight bookings, visa assistance and Forex but we understood it is not our strength. We have structured to outsource it now. Now, the need of the hour is finding the right mentor.
Couples who traveled with us last year are coming back for their anniversary Honeymoon Havens travel plans. The references are increasing with time too. I want to keep my plan simple and enjoy the journey. I want to serve 500 couples a year, take a month-long vacation and spread love around the world. My dream with is to hear people say, ‘If it’s a honeymoon, then it’s got to be Honeymoon Havens’.
What is your dream honeymoon destination? Tell us.
Read more stories of startups in travel sector here