Women on Wanderlust. Sounds like the name of a chick-flick, right? Tell that to Sumitra Senapaty and she might just leave you somewhere in a remote desert to find your way back alone.
While everyone is busy pursuing their career or family, she is standing tall as a one-woman-army that is changing the way Indian women travel around the globe. She is the founder of Women on Wanderlust (WOW), India’s first all woman travel club. These women travel to exotic places such as South America, Iran, Morocco, Bali, Goa, Montenegro and Amalfi Coast, and it’s all held together by Senapaty. Excerpts from the interview below:
1. The WOW Club is India’s first ever women travel group. How did you get the idea of starting Women on Wanderlust?
Well I guess the idea just happened to me. Girl bonding, passion for travel and ‘me time’ are pretty much aspects that envelope a women’s psyche and we built on that to develop not only a travel club but an alternative social platform for women.
2. Being a woman and an avid traveller what were the road bumps that you faced as an all women travel start-up?
Primarily getting women to do what they want to, without feeling guilty, to think for them, to be able to say, yes I want a holiday and I am going to take it! This was a difficult thing to do because it meant that WOW had to change the rules of women traveling. But we did and have never looked back since.
3. Back in 2005 travel wasn’t something people looked up to. How was the response when you started back then?
Initially women wanted to check the WOW travel idea with their family, and more often than not, family did not appreciate that they plan an all women holiday. It was an entirely new concept and had to be accepted socially before the idea took off, which it did and how!
4. Till date how many trips have you done? What are the kinds of preparations that go in before setting on a trip/journey?
Seven hundred trips since we started. Since the last four years we have been doing 100 to 125 trips annually. We basically need to ensure that all accommodations, and final itinerary is in place before the tour takes off, in addition to this, we are a single window for all travel arrangements like visa, insurance, flights, forex etc. Women like it this way, when all the nitty gritties are taken care of.
5. How do you ensure the safety of the women who travel with you? What are the necessary precautions that one needs to take in before a trip?
We ensure stay in quality hotels that are centrally located, because there is safety and security that a city centre provides. We recommend being alert and confident and always moving together as a group, after all, there is safety in numbers.
6. WOW is said to be a technology driven and net based company? Why so?
Majority of our sales and marketing is online. Our guests can pay online through credit cards.
7. You have options such as solo women travel, short tours, do-it-yourself travel, ZING Holidays etc. Can you explain the kind of trips that are offered by WOW Club?
Signature trips are specially curated by me and I accompany the travellers to unusual destinations like South America, Iran, Morocco, etc. Adventure trips like trekking and rafting. Short getaways are our Zing trips, both in India and overseas, like Bali, Goa, Montenegro and Amalfi Coast, Hampi etc.
We do cruises too – Mediterranean, Alaska and the popular Christmas Cruise in Europe. Wellness is another brand that we started. Rejuvenation & relaxation holidays.
8. How much does an average trip cost?
Between Rs. 18,500 to 500,000 plus and everything in between.
9. Where do we see Women on Wanderlust two years down the line?
We see inbound women travel, coming in from overseas. Foreign women hesitate about travelling in India, we want to break this barrier and create a comfortable and safe India travel platform for them.