Insights into a Travel Startup: Extraordinary Travel Company
According to their facebook page The Extraordinary Travel Company, creates experiences as extraordinary as their guests themselves. Discover new places, make unforgettable memories and new friends with The Extraordinary Travel Company. So we bring to you a detailed insight into the company through the founder herself, Jyotsana Kini.
Tell us something about The Extraordinary Travel Company and the team behind it? Where does the idea come from and how did it get implemented?
I dreamt up The Extraordinary Travel Company as I traveled across the world for work and pleasure, and was fortunate enough to experience close to 40 countries – and counting! I spent all my spare time and money on travel and found that I enjoyed travel planning just as much as I enjoyed the actual travel itself. Friends and family started looking to me for travel pointers and I was more than happy to share information and help plan perfect getaways, which is how the company was born. I want to create and share the thrill and excitement of travel and encourage stepping out of your comfort zone into a new culture and world. The name “The Extraordinary Travel Company” was inspired by the American film director Wes Andersen and his whimsical and spectacular film fantasies that always left the viewer wanting more. More of the story, more of the cinematography and certainly more of the quirky characters that you grew to love. That’s the exact spirit I’d like to imbue in my brand.
I currently am the CEO, MD, accountant and PA all rolled into one. I work with several design and travel consultants to put together my itineraries and marketing materials – I prefer to work with a range of partners based on my overall concept and budget.
What differentiates the Extraordinary Travel Company from other travel agencies? Tell us about some of your past trips.
We’re not a travel agency – we’re a travel company that carefully curates trips so our customers can experience a place from the inside out. From the moment you sign up for a trip, we want to make you feel special and start to get excited about the trip. Little surprise gifts, parties, movie screenings – there’s no limit to what we can plan to help everyone get in the mood. We do a ton of research to plan trips to the greatest detail – we don’t partner with standard agencies who provide run of the mill services. Each itinerary is well thought out, from unusual accommodation to handpicked restaurants to hidden discoveries in each location.
We’ve done two group trips to Uzbekistan this year where we explored the great cities of the Old Silk Road, staying in quaint, restored old houses and boutique hotels, witnessing the grand history and architecture of this 2000 year old culture, lapping up its delicious albeit meat-heavy cuisine and shopped for Uzbek ikat, ceramics and carpets in loval workshops.We also did a luxury “glamping” (glamorous camping) trip to Ladakh where ten of us stayed in the backyard of a 15th century monastery in luxury tents appointed with personal butlers and over-the-top service and food. We arranged for a monk to teach us chanting, attended morning meditation sessions at the monastery and met with a Tibetan Oracle to read our futures. Even at the normally crowded and touristy Pangong Lake, we laid out a picnic in a hidden spot and had an informal meditation session that I’m sure our group will remember for a lifetime. Next up is another “glamping” trip up in the foothills of the Japfu mountains in Nagaland during the Hornbill Festival.
How has college/ education helped you? Or has it? Tell us about your background?
I went to design school in New York and just living in the city starting at age seventeen was an education in itself. It was hard living as an adult in the big bad city, but oh, so much fun! I was exposed to so much at a young age so I really soaked in the glamour, grime and glory of it all. I studied design and marketing, two skills that are invaluable and highly relevant no matter which industry you end up in, and I worked post-college at Interbrand, a premier branding consultancy which not only honed my creative skills but helped me develop my professional voice and perspective.
College and my branding career have convinced me that creating and managing a brand that is unique and speaks to customers is integral to the success of a business.
What customers do you target or how has the industry response been?
I’d like to think we target customers who believe they are extraordinary and are looking for extraordinary experiences. We’re not targeting a specific age group, or gender or budget – each trip will be designed to cater to specific interests and will try as much as possible to give our customers an insider’s perspective on a place. In a nutshell, we’d like to give people an unforgettable experience that leaves them wanting just a little more.
So far, we’ve had a good response – the pricing has been on point, and the groups that have come together have really hit it off which has been the most rewarding aspect of the business. Travel is a necessary indulgence and to see people fully enjoy what we’ve put together is an absolute pleasure.
What do you think of the whole startup culture rise in India? What were some of the worst reactions you got from people around you when you started up?
Ive never been as inspired as I’ve been since I’ve moved to India. There’s something about the Indian culture and people that supports entrepreneurship.
Maybe I’m lucky but I haven’t met a single naysayer while starting up my business – everyone I’ve met has been supportive and go out of their way to offer guidance and help. As kind as people are though, you have to remember that customers are quick to make up their minds about a brand and after you’ve won them over, you have to work hard to keep them happy!
Where does your group get its funding from? The company is currently self-funded. In addition, to keep overheads low, I set up a home office and enjoy doing a lot of the social media/marketing work myself.
I negotiate hard with vendors to get fair prices for our customers.
A Problem you had not anticipated when you started up but it nevertheless showed up?
There are many crises that arise while traveling, simply because you can’t control and anticipate everything that happens during a trip. For example, our maiden trip to Uzbekistan was in late August when the temperatures were supposed to be in the 20s – instead we experienced a freak heat wave with temperatures soaring above 45 which made life very difficult for our group of fifteen women aged above 60. We had to limit our time outdoors and tried hard to witness the grand architecture of Bukhara and Samarkand without falling prey to heat stroke!
One of happiest days in relation to The Extraordinary Travel Company?
All the time – when I get feedback from happy customers that they’ve had the time of their lives.
Traveling with people you like and get along with, and making new friends is something that doesn’t get old, and doesn’t happen often. Add careful curation and a fun, delicious experience every day you wake up in a new destination, and it’s a winning combo. Advice for young entrepreneurs out there.
If you have a dream, don’t second guess yourself or sit on the fence forever. Get up and do something about it! Take a little risk, don’t be afraid to stumble, trust your intuition and march forward! Once you’re in though, take it slow and steady.