Surviving as a Travel Startup Despite a Global Industry Meltdown
With the Corona Virus outbreak, one of the worst hit industries is Travel & Hospitality. In fact, it was the earliest to not just get hit but completely get smashed. And yet, my own travel venture - Budget Wayfarers is far from seeing a dip, both in terms of traffic or revenue.
This has been possible only due to catering of regional audiences in 63 countries from the last 2 years without a break, creating quality content, respecting our core users and being available for them 24*7 and finally building a community around travel that comprises of dedicated Responsible Travellers.
2 Years & Bootstrapped - Surviving a Global Industry Meltdown
I guess, all the silent hard work, the late nights, relentlessness outdoor projects, constantly staying outside our comfort zone, being prepared for a crisis and most of all building trust with the core users of our platform has paid off for this exact moment.
It's also a learning for the team to NEVER take the good times for granted. Instead, constantly work on alternate revenue models, strategies and continue that non-conforming approach where your site's user is way way more important than any award, newspaper piece, tabloid coverage or outside investment.
These things are good but won't help you survive a crisis.
Your loyal customers, a stable revenue and having a vision to tackle the company at its worst surely will. A business that survives a crisis is a business whose foundation is rock solid.
When I started Budget Wayfarers, a lot of people advised me to raise an early stage investment and focus on growing every quarter. I, however chose to remain bootstrapped, focus on the end consumer, and build various revenue models that stabilise the venture.
Today, when I see some of the biggest players of the travel space get crushed to pieces, it feels awful. Now more than ever, I’m convinced about my decision to stay bootstrapped because that teaches one to always build more revenue and stay resourceful.
Building a Venture Requires Enormous Patience & Consistency
Building a venture takes everything. But most of all, patience and consistency. Teams cannot allow disruptions to break them. On the contrary, every chaotic situation is to be seen as an opportunity for growth. When the world sees darkness ahead, create that one tiny hole for the light to enter and inspire you.
On January 1st this year, the cloud server of our website had crashed for a few hours and the team was upset that the year has started on a disappointing note.
Back then, a team mate had uttered the following words, “We paid for the server in full, days ago. Why would it crash? Can we ever run smoothly as a venture without having to care of unpredictable circumstances?”
My response to him was, “We can and will run smoothly as a venture. However the unpredictability of things will always be there. And so don’t burn yourself down over it. It’s a sad attitude to have because life itself is unpredictable. All you need to do is to build a business that lasts despite every unpredictable situation.”
Today, our server doesn’t crash anymore. The entire travel industry across the globe has crashed down instead. And yet, we stand tall and are more resilient than ever :)