How 3 women of the Tibrewal family - Seema, Shilpi & Sumedha built Ging Tea House - A luxury tea hotel
#boutiquehomestay -Ging Tea Garden, Darjeeling, West Bengal 734105 - Book On RARE IndiaYC - Tell us about your background - educational, personal & professional? Would also love to hear about your family?
Shilpi - I have a masters degree in Economics and professional experience as a Financial Risk Consultant. With no prior experience in hospitality, I have been growing Ging Tea House since 2015.
Family & Personal info – The tea estates at Ging are part of our family business and its hospitality unit -Ging Tea House is a labour of love of Seema (my aunt), my sister Sumedha, and I. It was set up, out of our love for the property and everything aesthetic, and with the ambition to create new opportunities for locals with a self-sustaining ecosystem.
YC - What motivated you to start? Was there any turning point or incident in your life which led to your journey as an entrepreneur?
Shilpi - It was a dream of my uncle to renovate the director’s bungalow at Ging Tea Estates and open its charm to inquisitive travellers. While shaping his vision to reality “I became an entrepreneur from a professional.”
YC - Starting something unique or creating a niche is always challenging, what challenges did you face in your early days?
Shilpi -Hospitality was new to us. Also, Darjeeling being a small town and Ging Tea House at a remote location- logistics were hard. Everything had to be sourced from larger cities - from skilled labour to quality products. Also renovating the old world heritage bungalow built in 1866 came with its many challenges.
YC - As a founder what primary functions are you responsible for, basically how typically you spend your day in the office?
Shilpi - Anything and everything can be my job at Ging Tea House. With all teams and their managers doing a great job - troubleshooting and business development are my areas of focus.
YC - How do you manage expenses, typically what percentage do you allocate for marketing & sales, day to day operations and property renovations and enhancements?
Shilpi - It’s a yearly budget we follow based on past and current situations and future estimations. We primarily depend on organic marketing by word of mouth and honest reviews as we have found it to be the single most effective mode of growth.
YC - Our readers would love to know the best time during the year to visit your homestay and why?
Shilpi -It’s lovely between March – June and then September - January. The skies are clear and the Kanchenjunga sightings are beautiful in Darjeeling.
February is a cold month for travellers keen to experience it. Also, July and August are the monsoon season and great for rain lovers.
YC - A memorable trip is a combination of a great stay + lip-smacking food and unique experiences - what are the unique experiences around your area which travellers must explore?
Shilpi -The Tea Tour to experience the making of the ‘Champagne of the East’ is a no miss - from plucking to processing and tasting of the finest tea of the world.
Our guests love the treks through the sprawling tea gardens with spectacular views of the Kanchenjunga mountains.
Local cuisine, live music and cultural dance add to the local experience of our guests.
We do bonfire dinners, picnic lunches and private dining experiences with delectable cuisines from around the world – all add to the unique Ging Experience.
YC - What according to you is the USP of your boutique homestay, for which your customers come back to you?
Shilpi - Our team and their warm service with a personal touch- surely is the winner for us.
Also our setting - Ging Tea House is a British colonial heritage bungalow surrounded by 960 hectares of lush tea gardens, with majestic views of the Kanchenjunga ranges and is a 10 mins drive from Darjeeling town centre.
YC - Do you use social media platforms (like Instagram, Facebook etc) to promote your boutique homestay? Which channels have been very effective for your business?
Shilpi - Yes, we are actively present on both. Instagram is great with the younger generation and Facebook for the rest.
YC - Do you work with travel partners, which ones? What are your views on OTA’s like AirBnB, Makemytrip.com, Booking.com etc?
Shilpi - We work with most OTAs. They do help in creating visibility and getting bookings.
YC - Industry experts these days are talking a lot about sustainable and regenerative travel, what are your views on it and how are you contributing to the same?
Shilpi - We are a 100% organic tea garden and use a lot of produce from our organic kitchen garden. We have just embarked on the journey and stopped single-use plastic, incorporated waste segregation and water conservation practices. And have a long way to go.
YC - COVID 19 has immensely affected the tourism sector, how are you coping with it and what would you suggest to your fellow boutique homestay owners?
Shilpi -Domestic travel is seeing a surge and travel preferences are moving towards private and unique properties. Boutique Homestays are definitely becoming more popular like we saw post the first phase of covid.
YC- Based on your experience so far would you have any advice for new Entrepreneurs.
Have a short term and long term vision for your property and visit established properties and meet the people who run them.
Booking on RARE India - https://www.rareindia.com/
Website - www.gingteahouse.com
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