How Chhotaram Prajapat built a homestay that has received Tripadvisor's Excellence award 8 years in a row, since 2013
#homestay - Salawas Village, Kumharon ki Dhani, Gosala Road -Jodhpur -342804
YC - Tell us about your background - educational, personal & professional? Would also love to hear about your family?
Chhotaram Prajapat - Myself Chhotaram Prajapat founder and owner of Chhotaram Prajapat's Homestay. I got my education in my village and I learned English from tourists who visited us.
Our background - As we belong to the Weaver class, durrie (rug) weaving is our family business which we have been practising for ages. We earn our daily bread from this business only. Earlier, we used to serve the noble families, for maharajas and landlords. As time passed, our families got involved in other businesses but were badly exploited by the businessman. Chhotaram’s father, Pukhraj Ji set up a co-operative with 45 families involved in it. Pukhraj Ji has a lavish house in Salawas and has been converted into a homestay for guests in the form of huts that stay cool in summers and warm in winters. (taken from website)
We have 9 mud houses today and we love hosting guests at our home and always try to host them with an open heart. Guests come as a tourist, live as a family and leave as friends.
YC - What motivated you to start? Was there any turning point or incident in your life which led to your journey as an entrepreneur?
Chhotaram Prajapat - Actually I always wanted to learn and wanted to do something different. Luckily, we met one couple from the UK who wanted to stay at our home and their stay with us made me start a homestay.
YC -Starting something unique or creating a niche is always challenging, what challenges did you face in your early days?
Chhotaram Prajapat - There are many challenges in the beginning that I faced like I did not speak English, I did not have proper rooms for host-guest and one of the biggest challenges was money - to make rooms, amenities and creating clean and hygienic surroundings.
YC - How do you manage expenses, typically what percentage do you allocate for marketing & sales, day to day operations and property renovations and enhancements?
Chhotaram Prajapat - As of yet I didn't spend any money on marketing except creating a website for my homestay. Our marketing is done by my guests who stay with us - by word of mouth.
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?
Chhotaram Prajapat - There are lots of things to do around, but if a guest comes to our place we offer the following great experiences:
Durry weaving work
Bishnoi Village Safari - Bishnoi Village Safari is the organization started by Rajas and Maharaja's of Jodhpur to show that Indian and foreign guest a glimpse of rich cultural life around their state of Marwar, A True Rajasthan.
Camel Safari in the Thar Desert
Folk music and dance - Night bonfire in the courtyard with family and with other guests to exchange culture.
Traditional cooking - Our mouthwatering homemade food cooked on challah and if possible then traditional cooking.
YC - What according to you is the USP of your boutique homestay, for which your customers come back to you?
Chhotaram Prajapat - If anyone is looking to stay in a mud house and wants to have an authentic, real village experience then our homestay is the best place for them. The best time to visit our place is from July to April. We still have more guests from the USA, Australia and Europe but from the past 4 years, we do have a lot of Indian guests as well.
YC - Do you work with travel partners, which ones? What are your views on OTA’s like Airbnb, Makemytrip.com, Booking.com etc?
Chhotaram Prajapat - Yes, social media and reviews are very helpful for the hospitality business. Our Tripadvisor rating helps us a lot, we have 500+ review on Tripadvisor. We are Superhost in Airbnb 17 times in a row, MMTR rating 4 out of 5, Booking.com rating 9.3 out of 10. They all help us in getting better visibility and booking of course.
YC - Based on your experience so far would you have any advice for new Entrepreneurs.
Chhotaram Prajapat -
As I am Entrepreneur, one should always keep trying and working out new options.
I am always looking for something more to do, so once the lockdown started, I started with a virtual experience for my guests. It is doing good. I am still connected with my guests and once the lockdown is lifted, hopefully, guests will start coming.
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Chhotaram Prajapat's Homestay Salawas Village -