[Startup Bharat] How Jalandhar-based Trrivel is taking the road less travelled to win customers
Travel today is all about experiences. The youth no longer want conventional sightseeing, and holidaying is not limited to guided tours.
Realising that the Indian traveller is now more open to traversing the uncharted and venturing into the off-beat, Jitesh Yadav and Syed Adnan Faraz started Trrivel in 2015. The Jalandhar-based startup claims it provides personalised and responsive travel service to tourists. The platform helps book trips and other activities like trekking in Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand at present.
The team behind Trrivel believes that holidays in these lesser-known locales are truly memorable where one can avoid crowds, explore raw natural beauty and unusual cultures, and get to experience a plethora of new things.
“We organise fixed departures and curated trips from Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, and Jalandhar. Apart from this, we have two hostels running in Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh, one in Katagla Village and another in Kalga Village,” says Jitesh.
Off to a bad start
Jitesh studied Mechanical Engineering from Lovely Professional University (LPU), Punjab, where he met his co-founder Syed Adnan Faraz.
As a student, Jitesh says he was keen to start his own business and disrupt the market. He started his career as an entrepreneur by joining the sponsorship teams of various events happening in the college, and by visiting various startup events happening around, and building a network of other entrepreneurs and investors.
During his time in LPU, he happened to visit Kullu Manali, and discovered his love for travelling. Since then, he started doing solo trips and also travelled with his friends across the country.
“We then got an opportunity to lease one property in Kalga Village in Himachal Pradesh. We took the property and ran a cafe and hotel there. However, we realised that in order to run the business, we need customers coming in frequently. We thus started organising trips to this place and subsequently to other places as well. And this is how Trrivel was started along with another friend who helped us to develop the platform,” says Jitesh.
Speaking about challenges of starting up, Jitesh says, the team initially had to run into losses while conducting trips mainly because the logistics and other rates to reach the destination were higher than what they expected. Hence, while making an estimate of the package cost, it used to always land them in losses. It took few months for them to organise these in place.
Currently, with a team of eight members, Trrivel has partnered with vendors, and now claims to be a profitable business.
A unique experience
Targetting mainly college students, Trrivel says it has also tied up with various colleges and universities in Delhi, Dehradun, Jalandhar, and Chandigarh. The startup has set up helpdesks in these educational institutes to promote its activities. The students can book, make payments, and get information about bookings, confirmation, etc., through the helpdesk. However, customers from other parts of the country can book through Trrivel website.
The startup organises trips once every fortnight, and claims to get around 20-25 travellers every time. These trips will be mostly on weekends for one night and two days. However, it can vary if it is a long weekend.
The trips can also be customised, and will include stay at their exclusive properties in Katagla Village, and Kalga Village, which will include activities as well. These properties are located in remote locations like, Katagla Village (Near Kasol) and Kalga Village (Near Parvati River Dam).
“We thus provide our customers a unique experience in these remote and not so popular places. Our treks include places like Pin Parvati Trek in Kullu, Indrahar Pass Trek in Dharamshala, and Darati Pass Trek in Kinnaur District,” says Jitesh.
The average package cost per person is between Rs 5,500 and Rs 8,000, with the average cost for activities being around Rs 850.
However, today, the coronavirus pandemic has affected its business largely.
“Lately, we used to get many international tourists. We will need to wait till everything gets back to normal. I don't think international tourists will come around by September or October. In the near future, we are planning to focus more and more on inner cities as we need at least 60 percent occupancy for our properties,” says Jitesh.
Market trends and future plans
A TechSci Research report states that the country’s travel and tourism market stood at $56 billion in 2017, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 7.5 percent to reach $86 billion by 2023.
While there are many travel booking sites like Yatra, MakeMyTrip, and Goibibo that offer trips to unexplored and remote places, Jitesh says that no other player focusses on the places and activities that Trrivel provides.
According to Jitesh, as Trrivel is solely focussed on places in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, it organises activities such as river rafting, trekking, and skiing in these places much better than other players. “We also take our travellers to places where they are not usually taken to,” adds Jitesh.
Since 2015, the startup has claimed to have catered its service to over 7,000 customers. The platform today is seeing a revenue of around Rs 3.5 lakh on a monthly basis, with approximately 30 percent profit margin.
Bootstrapped till now, the team is currently in talks with investors to expand to Jammu and Kashmir, covering Ladakh and Srinagar area, as well as to Udaipur in Rajasthan by the end of this year.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)