How Udaijit created a unique glamping experience out of the family land bought in 1981 @ Dera Amer
Beer Talera, Village Khurad-Kukas, Tehsil Amer - JaipurYC - What is your background? What motivated you to start and what is it all about?
Udaijit - The family bought the land in 1981 after running a successful carpet business. The camp started in 2004 with the aim to use the land, in a sustainable, non-commercial manner and bring it back to its original state, a wilderness bush jungle inhabited by local flora and fauna. The camp is a 180-acre private estate, where we try and adopt misused/abused animals from the city, namely elephants, camels, and dogs.
We also protect hectares of forest land from overgrazing and poachers, resulting in the return of its vegetation and wild animals, like leopards, hyenas, jackals, foxes, and a wide variety of birds. The estate also has a farm and a greenhouse wherein we grow local vegetables and fruits for consumption of our animals and guests visiting us. The idea is to create a self-sustained haven for wild and domestic animals and birds alike and get travelers to interact with them in a non-intrusive non-commercial manner, accompanied by a member of the family, to host you and answer any questions one might have. We also recently started offering a “glamping” option for guests, in an exclusive valley in the private wilderness of the camp.
YC - Could you please share with our readers what is your current team size and their roles?
Udaijit - The current team size is around 20. There are 4 team members in each tent pocket, comprising of a butler, 2 room servicing staff, a guard, and a local guide. The camp also has a mahout for each elephant, a camel herder, a driver, and the remaining service staff that can double as guides on your walk.
YC - As a founder what primary functions are you responsible for, basically how typically you spend your day in the office?
Udaijit - The main function as an owner, is setting up smaller teams amongst the staff to manage every guest individually, so we can provide maximum privacy. Apart from that, estate maintenance and meeting each and every guest personally to give them a brief and history of Dera Amer. If for some reason I cannot make it, one of my nephews is there in my stead.
YC - Have you used social media platforms to promote your boutique homestay? Which channels have been very effective for your business? Which marketing channels have been super flops for your business?
Udaijit - Instagram has helped us in brand building of course – and we have managed to generate decent business through it. Travel and booking platforms such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith have always been a great source of business. Airbnb has not really worked for our glamping option, for unknown reasons.
YC - What according to you is the USP of your boutique homestay, for which your customers come back to you?
Udaijit - The USP of the property is the total exclusivity you experience while camping in luxury bordering private protected wilderness that includes leopards, hyenas, and a variety of birds. The camp also houses adopted elephants, a camel, and dogs that the guests can interact with as per their comfort.
YC - Can you elaborate on the challenges you faced in promoting your boutique homestay? What are your views on platforms like Airbnb, RareIndia, Booking.com, etc?
Udaijit - The main challenge for us is dealing with animals and the baggage that it carries, despite your efforts being to improve conditions for them and treating them with the utmost care and love. Once the guests visit us and understand why we do what we do, that changes, But it is a challenge to express our vision and concept via the internet, especially when dealing with animals such as elephants.
YC - How are you coping with COVID 19, what would you suggest to your fellow boutique homestay owners?
Udaijit - Hang in there! The travel trade is in comatose but will bounce back with a vengeance. Try and keep all your team members happy and motivated, because
“getting a good team together is always the most important aspect of running a property. "
YC - How do you manage expenses, typically what percentage do you allocate for marketing & sales, day-to-day operations, and property renovations and enhancements?
Udaijit - All the money made at Dera Amer goes back into estate maintenance, staff increment, and most importantly, the welfare and care for our animals and the local community.
YC - Based on your experience so far would you have any advice for new Entrepreneurs.
“Promote and look out for each other, especially in this terrible age of Covid. United we stand, Divided we fall!”
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