Experiential travel as an industry has grown significantly in the last few years. With bulging pockets, more people are looking to travel to offbeat destinations. There has been a huge demand in the market for travel startups which offer more than just packaged tours. A lot of startups have come up to solve such problems.
When two friends, Manjari Verma and Avani Patel, got bored of their jobs, they asked themselves “what next” and the only answer they got was “travel.”
As unlikely as it may seem, people who start a venture in the travel space for the excitement of traveling end up making plans for others. And it was the same with the duo. “Both of us have been travelling extensively since childhood. Because of our passion for travel and knowledge about places, we have always been asked by family and friends to help them plan their travels. So I guess we knew that one day we will do something travel related for sure,” says Avani.
Coming from an Army background, Manjari spent most of her childhood travelling to different parts of country with her family. She studied in eight different schools before settling down in Mumbai and went on to study advertising. Before starting up, Manjari spent five years in advertising industry as a copywriter. After which she took some time out to travel. It was then that her childhood love for travelling returned and she decided to pursue it wholeheartedly.
While Manjari was starting up in her advertising career, Avani was researching in Marine Biology in Lakshadweep and she fell in love with the sea. Avani quit her job after two years and took up the post of a travel planner in an adventure travel company to learn the ropes of the trade. The desire for starting up was getting stronger by the day. Avani worked there for a year-and-a-half before she decided to call it quits and joined hands with Manjari to start Broken Compass.
Broken Compass is a travel venture which specialises in planning and executing custom travel plans for individuals and groups. The company plans thematic trips for different occasions and takes pride in seeing a new place as a traveller and not a tourist. They have a complete section dedicated to completing the bucket list. What makes them special is the fact that each travel solution is customized and tailor made for people.
People traveling with them are required to fill a form where they are asked multiple questions about their travel plans and intentions. After they send the form, an interview takes place where they understand more about the needs of the customer and their budget requirements followed by a research on destinations and stay. Hotel, suppliers, travel partners are contacted and the final plan is sent to the client. After feedback from the client, the plan is modified accordingly and the holiday is booked for them.
One of the most impressive things about Broken Compass is that they claim to be available to their clients 24/7 until the end of their holiday; which means there are no chances of being stranded on your vacation.
Their main source of revenue is the holidays, which are completely customized since one model doesn’t fit all. As a result of which every holiday means dealing with new agents, hotels and travel partners. However, a small stream of revenue also comes from the part where they only consult but not book the entire trip. Talking about her observations in the last five years since she started, Avani says,
“Although no independent data is available on the size of the customized holidays’ market, it’s a growing business. In the last four to five years we have seen families, who earlier picked group or packaged tours, now come to us for a customized holiday. So as the market is growing travelers are also becoming open minded and are looking for something which suits their personality.”
They have come a long way since the time they started with little experience in the field, and then made their way with nothing but hard work and perseverance. Talking about their growth and milestones, Avani says,
“We launched Broken Compass in August 2010 officially. We started with a nominal investment of just Rs. 10,000. Since then, we have grown leaps and bounds. Not just financially, but on all other fronts as well, like business development, management, and marketing etc. Our turnover was Rs 1.5 crore in the financial year 2013-14 and with the launch of new group trips and upcoming company expansion plans we are expecting 10% growth this year.”
Planning and organising travel for others is not always boring. Avani narrates and interesting incident where they had to plan a trip for a client couple who wanted Batman to bless them on their fifth anniversary. Relating the incident, Avani says, “We received a request from one of our clients traveling to USA, where she wanted to renew her wedding vows on her fifth anniversary but not by a normal priest but by Batman! And we made it possible. Doing so we realized there were so many other movie characters available as well. It was a fun and unique trip to plan.”
For people who are looking to start up, Avani says, “Be persistent and perseverant. Work hard and learn from your mistakes, do not fear failure. Do your market research well and lay out a plan of what you want to do.”