Thursday, August 10, 2017

New travel start-up promises to plan your perfect holiday with a twist

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Travelling is fun, but planning for the trip can often be cumbersome experience. If you're vacationing with friends, you might find yourself disagreeing about the destination, or the itinerary, or your mode of transport... the list goes on. What if we told you that now, someone else will design the perfect vacation for you, but give you all the details only on the day you depart?

Say hello to Unpland, a three-month-old travel company that organises surprise trips for those willing to hand over the reins to a bunch of strangers.

Co-founder Sanchit Gupta says they started experimenting with the 'secret event' format last year, first holding a secret rooftop party in May, which was attended by over 350 guests. "Then, we organised a secret weekend road trip, which got a lot of traction on social media. Around 40 guests signed up for it. On the day of the trip, when we were on our way, we asked them to start guessing where we might be going, and only then disclosed the location," says the 30-year-old entrepreneur.

You are possibly wondering, "What if I want to go to the mountains and they end up sending me to a beach?" To prevent such a mishap, while signing up for a trip with the venture, you're required to fill in a few details on an online form. First, select a trip category — pick from budget escapes, couple retreats, self-drive trips, luxury travel, and international trips. Then, you provide the team with basic details like the number of days you want to travel for, your budget, and the size of your group. "We also ask questions about your travel history, and make a follow-up phone call, so we don't accidentally send you to a place you've already visited," says Gupta.

A few days before the trip, you get an email containing information about the weather forecast for your trip, and packing tips. "We can't keep it all a surprise, or people would be in for a rude shock. But, we only send an email and letter with the final details, including the name of the destination, on the day," he adds.

The trips start at as low as Rs 3,000 a day and include transport and accommodation fare. International trips, meanwhile, start at Rs 10,000, and only include countries that offer visa on arrival. While they offer activity and restaurant recommendations, they don't book these for you.

Gupta explains how they work with low budgets — "We have tied up with hostel chains and Airbnbs, which provide accommodation at much more affordable rates than hotels. Moreover, depending on the budget, even the mode of transport changes."

Unpland has organised 15 trips so far, and is hoping to expand to include trips to Europe. Gupta says, "This will be tougher to achieve, considering visas are involved. So, the plan is to reveal the name of the first country, so people can apply for visas in advance, and keep the rest of the itinerary a secret."


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