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OT speaks to Wovoyage’s founder Rashmi Chadha, about her tech-enabled, women-centric travel company. Wovoyage offers trips that prioritise safety, especially for foreign tourists who wish to explore India better but consider the country to be dangerous. A conversation with Chadha sheds light on how Wovoyage aims to change the perception of travel in India.
Tell us about Wovoyage. How did it start?
I started Wovoyage as a women-centric travel start-up in 2016. I kept noticing the rise of solo female travellers and their wish to visit India. But for most of them, safety was a big concern; they feel insecure and are reluctant to travel alone. I felt that by introducing Wovoyage I could reduce the risk and provide a secure trip. Wovoyage creates a safety net by providing safe accommodation, reliable drivers and female guides. We also have concept tours on photography, yoga, trekking, cycling and such that not only show the real India but also provides a more conscious, stimulating way of travelling.
But Wovoyage is not exclusively for women?
Ah, no. We are women-centric, but we cater to both men and women on our travel platform. Our aim is to make journeys safer for solo women travellers, women-only groups, couples and senior citizens. We treat all our customers equally, just that our additional features make travel for women risk-free and safe.
What are your go-to travel destinations?
I do love Japan. This is also why Wovoyage is based out of both India and Japan. I also love visiting Russia or Bali.
What sets Wovoyage apart from the other tour operators?
There are many travel companies in India. But Wovoyage offers a female-friendly travel centre and we have an all-female staff that accompanies the groups on trips. We customise packages for all sorts of travellers, provide 24x7 assistance, irrespective of their location. Not only does Wovoyage help curate one-of-a-kind tours, but we also empower our women employees and make them more independent.
How does your tech-enabled ecosystem work?
The tech-enabled ecosystem at Wovoyage includes booking services, search and planning platforms, on-demand travel, and recommendation sites and many more. The ecosystem is backed up by our state of the art website and soon to be launched travel app. We have a huge database of verified properties all across India and abroad. When a traveller looks for a place to stay, the system recommends safe options to book from. It also gives recommendations for nearby attractions, restaurants and must-visit spots. In case of an emergency, the traveller can use the built-in SOS services in the app which will local authorities. It is a great way to ensure safety for women. Well researched approach and the travel prowess make this platform really interesting to streamline travel itinerary. We are working on various new developments to make this platform more dynamic and robust.
What safety precautions do you take to ensure safety?
Our product is risk-free. When foreigners or expats travel to India, we provide friendly, female guides to make our tourists comfortable. For instance, if we have a German woman wishing to shop around in Delhi, then we assign her a guide who knows the area and is well-versed in German. Our guides are called Super Guides for they do everything to make India a safe destination for all our customers.
What are the parameters for a 'Wovoyage verified hotel'?
It is very clear-cut, really. The properties are either owned or managed by women. They are located in safe areas where there is access to public transport and emergency medical aid. All of them have rooms, dorms or areas assigned for women.
Tell us about Wovoyage’s Wowheels.
It is our women-only carpooling initiative. We will provide same-day trips in a budgeted, easy and safe way. Tourists from different spheres can travel and share experiences. We have already successfully launched trips from Delhi to Agra. We will also have trips to Jaipur and Amritsar. The pick-up and drop points are predecided and the cost will also include a female guide.
What’s new in the travel space?
I see a large percentage of women who have developed a strong desire to travel and explore the world. This increasing independence is most admirable. Several surveys confirm that while most women wish to travel in groups, many are keen to do so alone as a way to enrich the experience.
What's next for Wovoyage in 2019?
In 2019, Wovoyage will launch World 1st Women Friendly Travel App and will expand operations in multiple countries, making travel safe and secure for women all over the world.
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