Bengaluru-based startup offers 4,000 handpicked experiential stays and over 3,500 local activities. It aims to expand to 22 states and 120 destinations in the next six months.
Long weekends tend to turn majority of the urban populace into travel junkies. Ergo, the skyrocketing increase in the number of travel aggregators and planners on the market. But while this has led to a lot of noise about destinations, not much thought has been given to the experience that a place delivers.
That’s what led to the birth of Wandertrails, a travel-tech startup launched in July 2016 to offer experiential stays and activities in a destination of travellers’ choice.
Wandertrails was founded by five people. Three of them — Vishnu Menon, Sruti Ramesh Chander and Pranav Kumar — graduated from IIM-Calcutta while the other two — Narayan Menon and Hari Gangadharan — are industry veterans with more than 10 years of experience in marketing and technology. The five knew one another and eventually ended up working together.
Narayan says, “We help travelers find bespoke experiences that truly help them in discovering and experiencing the ‘flavours’ of a destination.” He says Wandertrails has built a solution for millennials who value efficiency in time, authenticity of experience, quality of service and the emotion of travel “over a combo scheme”.
The idea was born when one of the founders faced a problem.
When Sruti, Co-founder and COO of Wandertrails, was managing her wedding guest list in Kerala, she realised it was extremely difficult for her to manage one request that all her relatives visiting from abroad had made. These guests were keen to have a “real” and not a “touristy” Kerala experience. The difficulty in providing experiences not found commonly in mainstream itineraries served as the founding stone for Wandertrails.
The startup came into being in January 2016; the platform www.wandertrails.com went online in July 2016 and the founders invested less than Rs 40 lakh in the business.
Wandertrails differentiates itself from other travel sites by focusing on experiences integral to the destination. It curates experiences; ensuring customers understand the uniqueness of the location, aesthetics or the legacy/story behind the property, activities intrinsic to the place, and nature of the host.
“Ensuring that the cycle of experiences is never broken. we combine immersive activities with your stay and enrich your experience quotient,” Narayan says.
With more than 7,500 units of sale, a majority of Wandertrails’ users fall into the millennial group. The startup has over 4,000 handpicked experiential stays and 3,500-plus curated local activities listed with a supplier network of over 4,500 (30 percent had no digital presence before) at present. These numbers are growing fast.
The Wandertrails USP
The Wandertrails team believes that customer experience makes their company stand out. From the moment a query is generated, Wandertrails assigns a brand experience manager, who is a location specialist, and ensures that every query, concern or clarification is answered and solutions provided.
“We believe that an experience starts from the very first interaction with us,” Narayan says.
The team believes this helps to retain a human, and friendly, touch for the entire trip, ensuring customer delight. Wandertrails also has a special concierge service for foreign in-bound travelers and NRIs to fine-tune the itinerary to the last detail. This is backed up with robust customer support.
“Currently the foreign in-bound travellers and NRIs account for 10 percent of our business and growing fast,” Narayan says.
The business model and technology
Wandertrails is primarily a B2C player and is supplemented by a B2B model focused on corporates where they are redefining team outings, employee programmes and corporate getaways by bringing in the experiential quotient.
The technology backbone enables seamless management of the listings and smooth transaction flows. The platform solves supplier and content delivery pain points, and ensures an unmatched user experience.
Making their way
Earlier this year, Wandertrails raised $1 million in seed investment from UK-based VC firm Earlsfield Capital. It has invested that funding to expand its presence from the current 14 states and 70 destinations to at least 22 states and 120 destinations in the next six months. The funds will also be used for marketing activities in the regions of Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Pune, among others.
“A focus on written and visual content will drive more user engagement and fortify our community of travel enthusiasts, one of the greatest strengths of Wandertrails,” the founders say.
Meraj Alam, Managing Partner, Earlsfield says, “We were super-impressed with their [Wandertrails’] ability to execute and the supply they have built in a very short time in a capital-efficient manner. We talked to a large number of their customers, from within India and Europe, and the net promoter scores we have witnessed are incredibly high.”
Wandertrails is now inching closer to $1 million in revenues.
According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the travel industry is $40 billion in size and India still doesn't have a billion-dollar website in the travel industry.
SavvyMob, Ixigo and Repup are some of the popular startups in the travel space with different business models.
With India travelling like never before, be it on weekends or during tourist season, the opportunity is large. Wandertrails is, over the next few years, keen to reap the benefits of India’s wanderlust.
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- Pranav Kumar
- technology backbone
- travel sites
- Ramesh Chander
- Meraj Alam
- Sruti Ramesh Chander
- Hari Gangadharan
- Narayan Menon
- Vishnu Menon