We’ve met Sarita on several occasions in India and abroad. We’ve had the good fortune to bond over food, travel and kids. But when she turned an entrepreneur, her journey was something that we wanted to document. It’s not every day that a Chartered Accountant dons the hat to travel and set up an online travel portal. What makes her entrepreneurial journey so incredible? Read her story to find out for yourself.
Meet the very beautiful Sarita Mehra Pandey, a 33-year-old Chartered Accountant, a Naval Wife and a mother to a handsome young 5-year-old boy. The Lifestyle Portal is happy to share the entrepreneurial journey of this vivacious co-founder of Bohotraveller, a unique online travel portal.
How did it all begin?
When she started taking freelance assignments, Sarita realised that her creativity was getting muffled due to specific client requirements and the only way to “free” her writing style was to launch her own website.
“But I wasn’t sure or confident about managing the entire show solo. Having a small baby did not help either. So this one time, I was just speaking to a childhood friend and we started talking about our love for travel and how we would love to have a website and lo, within a week we were creating Bohotraveller,” smiles Sarita.
Initial investments made
“I can’t give an exact figure as the investment is on-going. The monetary investment has been low but that is just because we have ourselves created the website from scratch and all the content in it. My partner even learnt coding to add some complex features to the website,” explains Sarita.
For the past one year, Sarita and her co-founder have not taken complete holidays because some or the other work has been in progress here at Bohotraveller. The platform they’re currently on Squarespace is a paid one. Again the mail ids and different services of Google is where they are spending.
For infographics, they have hired people and they also run another website Investorwhiz for which they have writers who do some part of writing. The money is just trickling in, as they’re still new in this segment. However, Bohotraveller’s revenue stream mainly comes from their online booking engine and Sarita is optimistic that it will take just a little more time for it to pick up.
The name was actually conceptualised over a few drinks, quips Sarita. She further adds, “But it captures the way I look at travel. It is a combination of two words- Bohemian and traveller. Usually, my way of travelling has been pretty organised with stays at wonderful properties because holidays were always about unwinding. But this one holiday, a trek to a remote place called Kheerganga in Himachal Pradesh, actually changed the way I perceived unwinding on a holiday. It was like an awakening that this is what I would love to do and this is what I am. So the Lux holidays are still there but the rustic holidaying is something I strive to go on every other time.”
When Sarita and her friend launched Bohotraveller, they wanted to go offbeat and so the name seemed apt. Even though they like to share known places but their primary focus is on offbeat travels. In fact, their first blog post was on Turkmenistan and that helped them set the tone. The website has got a great response from readers and travellers across the globe and that’s encouraging Bohotraveller to keep moving ahead.
“The first challenge is that I am the sole writer for Bohotraveller and efforts to recruit writers have been in vain as there are a certain style and quality we like to maintain which we have found difficult to maintain with hired writers. So I am always writing and it is like my head is going to explode by end of the day,” laughs Sarita.
Also being a full-time mum and working from home has her a multitasking professional. Even her partner has a full-time job and after the whole day at work, he still manages to squeeze in those extra hours for their websites.
It is a start up and so funding is something they want for only those things that can’t be managed by them. As mentioned earlier, the website itself has been created by Sarita and her partner from scratch; hence hunting for extraordinary stories is another challenge but they have been lucky to crack it. They’ve received an overwhelming response from people who have been forthcoming about giving interviews and sharing their stories with Bohotraveller.
Sarita further adds, “Continuous networking is also a challenge for me because I am not a “social media” girl. I am active on Facebook solely because of my Boho baby. Marketing is the biggest ever challenge because that is required for creating our brand and making it a familiar name. We are on over 20 online platforms where we showcase the content of Bohotraveller and being active on all of them is truly a challenge. Again content itself along with SEO is something we have read so much about because we had just no idea about anything when we started out. The thing is we are hands on but it has come with its fair share of struggle and lot of hard work.”
Who gets featured on Bohotraveller
Bohotraveller has been lucky to cover some well-known faces that have some travel distinction to their names. They have been following an extreme overland driver Nidhi Tiwari for past one year and within this one year she became first Indian Woman to drive from Delhi to London and crossed the ‘Road of Bones’ in Siberia, the most dangerous road in the world!
Then again there is this IPS officer Aparna Kumar, who was the first Indian woman to scale the highest peak in Antarctica; and she followed it up with scaling Mount Everest. These ladies have been extensively covered by Indian media and they are so inspirational that you feel their victories if you are following their journeys.
What makes Bohotraveller so unique?
“Our off-beat stories and destinations happen to be the greatest attention gatherer for us. About 95% of the stories and destinations we cover come from real travellers who have been there. We don’t believe in picking information directly from the web and putting it all together to create an article because in such blogs you can never capture the essence of the destination, explains Sarita.
She also adds that the tips articles are also based on actual experience that they consider worthwhile to share. Bohotraveller’s “Travel Inspiration” category has been particularly engaging for the readers as well as for them. The kind of people they got to meet and come across to do this section has been phenomenal.
“It has been truly inspirational; right from legends like “Lion Whisperer” Kevin’s reserve in SA that we covered through the founder of the lobby for Lions, Alison Lee Rubie, Dr. Dame Daphne’s Elephant Shelter in Nairobi to a 4-year-old Vladimir who covered 41 countries on the sidecar of a bike. These people are amazing and more you know them more you start believing in the unwavering spirit of humans and bright side of life,” exclaims Sarita.
While blog writing is just one part of our website, Bohotraveller is your one stop shop for all travel needs and includes a travel planner (booking engine) and travel store – all under one roof.
Products & Services at Bohotraveller
“Our powerful travel planner helps you book everything right from flights to accommodation. For flight bookings, we are affiliated with Jetradar and for hotels, with Hotelscombined. Both of these help you pick the best deals and economical rates by comparing hundreds of websites. You can book tours with us through Viator, world’s leading tour seller. Apart from these, we cover cruises and cars on rental as well. Our website also hosts travel store powered by Amazon where the categories are created according to travel needs. We also have an association with GPSmyCity, which is a wonder app that creates offline-guided tours out of the published online articles,” smiles Sarita.
Bohotraveller also features travellers with interesting travel stories, off-beat properties and initiatives, tours and travel agents, especially in any niche segment. They invite guest posts quite often. The idea is to give exposure to the travellers and act as a marketing platform for local travel agencies as well. Until now Bohotraveller has done destination articles with travel agencies of Uganda, Bhutan, Tibet etc. in the past and are hopeful to do more in the near future.
Visions & inspirations for Bohotraveller
“Our vision has just been evolving and expanding from day one. When we started out, Bohotraveller was just a platform to share travel stories; but over the past year we have learnt so much about travel and travel industry,” mentions Sarita.
Bohotraveller has been profiling and marketing lesser-known local and niche travel agencies for some time now and this is one segment that they want to explore more. In the near future, they want to become a platform, which truly enables wonderful travels across the globe.
They want to establish Bohotraveller as a place where travel enthusiasts can come together with agencies that specialise in niche travel experiences. They want to collaborate with properties, hotels, homestays, agents and even start-ups with bright ideas in travel segments.
“We are already in process of starting something exciting on our website which will be one of its kind initiatives. I can’t talk about it in details but yes you all will know about it as it happens,” smiles Sarita.
The journey so far…
Sarita adds, “The response has always been great, right from the word go! In fact in past one year we have redesigned the website about three times, improving the navigation and looks all based on visitor feedback. It has been a satisfying journey but it is time to step up the game and pursue our ambitions more aggressively. I feel it is the right time because we have gained a certain brand value with a loyal reader base and have some amazing content and collaborations going for us.”
Future plans for Bohotraveller
Both Sarita and her co-founder have big dreams for Bohotraveller. They want to go beyond being just a travel portal.
“Down the line, you might be looking at our travel magazines and niche travel assistance in a big way. We are already putting in a lot of hard work and are intent on making it work. The results are already showing and we are super hopeful. We have a number of ideas going forward that should make Bohotraveller a name people associate with travel. There is still a long way to go but someone told me just wish with faith and leave it to the universe, it all has a way to culminate eventually,” signs off Sarita.
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