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'Encouraging experiential tourism'

Friday, July 14, 2017

Uday Jhamb, CEO & Co- Founder of Roadhouse Hostels

Uday’s backpack experiences encompass travels across Singapore, Thailand, Dubai, and India. The same have helped him craft a deep understanding of hospitality and more importantly hostel space. This laid the foundation for Uday’s eventual goal, that is to provide backpackers a safe, unique and indelible experience. His professional experience encompasses tenures at Accenture, Winshuttle and Iktara World, where he held human resources and marketing positions. Uday has completed his MBA from XLRI and he is an alumnus of the prestigious Mayo College.

In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Uday says he wants Roadhouse to resonate as a brand that serves the Indian backpacker community with a safe and memorable experience that leads to transformation of an individual.

What is the idea behind Roadhouse Hostels?
I  had  been  travelling  extensively  for  the last  4  years  across India and rest of Asia. After quitting the IT industry, I moved to Dubai and worked in a hospitality company for a few months and came back to India.

After returning from Dubai, I wanted to see India and so packed my bags and travelled the length and breadth of the country. During this time, I realised the problems faced by backpackers. I felt the need for a well structured hostel culture in India. In  November  2014,  I  along  with  my  other  co-founders  Rajesh  Borah  and Shubham Garg  decided  to collaborate to start our first hostel in Goa. All three of us are alumnus of Mayo College and so therefore, we understand the fun and transformatory experience of living in a hostel.  

Currently, Roadhouse Hostels has properties in Goa (Anjuna, Palolem & Arambol), Jaipur and Varanasi. Roadhouse Hostels is a chain of backpacker hostels providing safe, secure, modern, affordable accommodation that facilitates and nurtures the free spirit of the intrepid traveler. We just don't provide accommodation or tours; we provide an entire experience to help smoothen all aspects of travels across India. We provide an environment which encourages equality and respect, introducing travelers to local culture and practices to raise awareness.

Tell us about the opening of the Indian mindset, from traditional to backpacker style of travel?
The backpacker’s segment is encouraging a category of experiential tourism, where travellers are focussing on experiencing a country, city or particular place by connecting to the history, culture and background of other travellers. This is resulting in a new category of packaged trips that strike a balance between personal growth, independence, and holistic enlightenment. This new category of travellers are looking to not just “chill” during their travels but also to learn, experience and eventually transform themselves. The hostel culture is also becoming a major melting pot of all cultures where on a usual night in any of our hostels you will see a group of Europeans, Australians and Indians interacting or even learning each other's cooking styles, culture and habits.

What is the growth rate of backpacking, which is a highly resilient sector?
Though the margins in this industry are very low, the need for such an option is pushing a very good growth. We see a 300% growth year by year for this industry. A simple example is when we opened our first hostel in 2014, there were just 3 hostels in Goa, now in 2017, there are over 25 hostels in Goa alone.  

Do you encourage solo travel for the independent and modern Indian women?
Roadhouse Hostels is known to encourage solo travel for the modern young woman who is blazing her own trail. She is independent, modern, travels frequently and is determined to learn from her own experiences. The emphasis is on safety and comfort factors at the properties. The hostel chain has 24 hours security and controlled entries. Also, as it is a new culture its our responsibility to promote this culture with extreme focus on safety to help people from all genders, colours or regions to feel the same without worrying about anything.   

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
We want to expand our netowork to 20-25 hostels and enhance our presence and sales through technology. We are presently coming in places which are already on traveler’s routes but after this phase and after gaining a larger market share, we will get into off beat locations and thus provide a medium for travellers to explore more places and cultures. Roadhouse Hostels plans to increase their inventory by 500% and aims to become a one-stop accommodation provider to all the backpackers from domestic to foreign travellers from across the globe.

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