Awez Khan always felt he needed to go back and do something better for his hometown – the Andaman Islands. In 2010, he gathered the courage to leave his lucrative job and return to the islands to start his venture which offers financial solutions to many private and government entities in the Andaman Islands.
During this period, Awez’s friends and colleagues used to take his suggestions regarding their travel plans to the Andaman Islands. “I used to get excited after knowing about their visit. I would make efforts to help them with their travel plans and would refer them to people who organized trips and tours. However, sometimes my friends would complain that their experience was not as expected.”
He realized there was something missing because he knew the islands had a lot to offer. “The travelers were not being exposed to the true experience of the islands, and that is when the idea for Experience Andamans was formed,” he adds.
The brainchild of Awez and Azhar, Experience Andamans is about exploring, enjoying and experiencing the true spirit of the islands. It is much more than tours and excursion -- it takes you beyond the resort and into the heart of the islands where setting sail, grabbing the reins, exploring lush peaks and tasting rich flavours are the experiences that become lasting memories.
Awez is a MBA from Indian Institute of Planning and Management and hails from Andamans, while Azhar is a NIT Durgapur alumnus and has worked at several software startups.
“We want everyone to know that in the 21st century there exists a place which has approximately 92% forest land, around 570 Islands, a rich marine life, breathtaking virgin beaches and active volcanoes,” says Awez.
The company was founded in 2013 with the idea to explore and share the best of the islands. The duo realized that many experiences were missing from the common board and started exploring destinations around the islands and adding it to their repository. “We sorted out problems related to transparency in Andaman travel which gave rise to ‘Trip Planner’, where you can select from different hotels, activities and experiences,” adds Azhar.
Traction and experiences
So far the company has delivered experiences to 260 people with an average spend of Rs. 15000/person. “For this coming season we have already made booking of 170 people and more are in the pipeline. Queries on our website are growing at a good rate and the credit goes to our organic ranking on Google,” says Awez.
The nine-month-old venture has crossed 25 lakh topline and plans to add another 45-50 lakh to the topline.
Some of the unique experiences offered exclusively by Experience Andamans include trip to the uninhabited islands around both Port Blair and Havelock Island. “Here you get a chance to stay by an island in a cruise or big boats. We even conduct trips to India's only active volcano, Barren Island. For honeymooners, we have a plethora of surprises such as candle-lit dinner in a yacht,” adds Azhar.
Size of opportunity & plans for scaling up
According to the Market Research Division, MoT, Andaman & Nicobar Islands survey of 2010-11, around 200,000 people have traveled to the islands, and since then the number of travelers has increased by approximately 25% every year.
Besides the Andamans, the company will also cover neighboring Islands in and around India. Pointing out the USP of Experience Andaman, Awez says, “Currently, no platform offers end-to-end facilities to travelers coming to the Andaman. We stress on a 360 degree approach towards how people travel to the Islands,” says Awez.
The platform will eventually evolve to add more information and to cater to many different Islands. Having said that, we (at YourStory) have yet to see such a diverse online platform that showcases some of the best experiences of the islands.
“We have just scratched the surface to what we are aiming at. A platform for island travel and experience where travelers from a backpacker to a luxury guest can be educated and informed to create their own island experience,” says Awez.
Website: Experience Andamans