STARTUP STAGE: Lovu wants to become the romantic travel app
I love you
Lovu is a romantic travel booking app, with options for users to do it on their own or to work with a travel counselor.
Founder Shri Lildharrie has experience both in hotel technology and with The Knot, a global wedding planning company.
What’s your 30-second pitch to investors?
Lovu is a travel app dedicated to romantic trips and couples. From marriage proposals and destination weddings to honeymoons, birthdays, vow renewals and baby moons, romantic travel is easy on Lovu, where consumers can develop a direct relationship with hotels and resorts. travel advisers. We are cutting out middlemen like online travel agencies that offer no real value and put consumers in control of their romantic travel experience.
Describe both the business and technological aspects of your startup.
Lovu is free for consumers. There is a freemium account that every property gets and a premium paid account starting with our free RoomX plan which involves room exchange for a Gold, Diamond and Platinum membership and plan for multi-property brands. Travel counselors have one plan. Lovu is a mobile SaaS platform.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Highlights – We make finding, planning and booking romantic celebration trips easy and fun for everyone involved.
- Weaknesses – Capital. We need the money to go fast. For this reason, we are raising funds by pre-selling the platform to the first adapters and launching a mainstream Indiegogo campaign over the coming week. We offer free nights in prestigious hotels in exchange for your commitment.
- Opportunities – There are more mobile connected devices in the world than people, and almost 90% of mobile internet time is spent on apps. The business of romantic travel is huge. The destination wedding and honeymoon market in the United States is over $ 25 billion. Lovu will serve the global romantic travel market.
- Threats – We are disrupting a high value customer segment of the travel industry. We are not a commission model. Online travel sites can be a threat if they change their business model and stop serving romantic consumers badly. Consumer behavior and technological change can also become a threat. Our users are at the heart of our business. We will continually challenge the status quo to make it easy for couples to find and book their romantic travel experiences. We will constantly change our technology to remain competitive and relevant to our users.
What are the travel issues you are trying to alleviate from a customer and industry perspective?
- For consumers:
- The time it would take them to research, plan and book romantic celebration trips like honeymoons, destination weddings, proposals, vow renewals, etc.
- The indirect relationships they would establish with the hotels
- The trouble of finding the right person in a hotel to make him a deal
- The time it would take for them to find an experienced destination travel expert to help them
- For hotels:
- Their permanent challenge to win direct bookings from consumers
- The constant battle to reduce distribution costs
- The challenges of achieving a high return on advertising investment
- The ongoing challenges of direct customer engagement
- The constant challenge of getting customers to sign up for loyalty programs
- The challenge of getting guests to become brand ambassadors on social media
- For travel counselors:
- The high cost of marketing
- Persistent customer and commission bypass issues
- The high price of high quality leads / referrals
- The need for continuing education and training in sales
So you have the product, now how are you going to get a lot of customers?
We will mainly rely on content marketing. Our B2C (Travel Consumers) content marketing efforts will include brand marketing, specialty media, social media, PR campaigns, expert advice marketing, influencer marketing, and more. For our B2B content marketing to hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, etc., we will include social media (LinkedIn), public relations, industry press, expert advice marketing, etc. Travel counselor marketing will include commercial advertising, email marketing, business conferences, content marketing, and ongoing virtual brain courses where we will continuously educate counselors about the romantic travel business.
Tell us what process you went through to establish a real need for your business and the size of the addressable market.
For the past four years, I have researched the romance industry and the direct booking efforts of hotel companies and their ongoing struggle to win the direct consumer market. I have researched romantic travel data from several reputable sources, including industry travel information from The Knot Worldwide, the world’s leading media on the life scene with a community of millions of consumers. going through romantic stages from proposal to marriage to starting a family for the first time. I have found a huge gap in the travel industry in my research, and I am filling that need.
The addressable size of the US market is approximately 126 million consumers who are married, living together and in committed romantic relationships. Romantic travel is a huge and underserved travel segment that needs highly personalized and personalized products and pricing offers and a booking experience that only the direct relationships between travelers and hoteliers or travelers and travelers. experienced travel counselors can offer. This segment hasn’t been addressed appropriately by anyone, let alone the undercover online travel agencies, and I’ve found the magic formula to do it.
How and when will you make money?
We make money by charging subscription fees to tourism providers and travel advisers and on media opportunities. Our business plan puts us in positive cash flow by year two based on meeting fundraising goals.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
I, Shri Lildharrie, am the founder and am a travel technician, media pro and entrepreneur with over 20 years of travel industry experience and an expert in software business development as a solution (SaaS). I spent nine years on the world’s first income-generating wedding website, The Knot. During my tenure at The Knot, I generated over $ 50 million. Prior to that, I owned and operated Karma, a catering and event business. I also founded The Hotellogist Inc., a hotel technology consulting company. Over the past five years, I’ve helped hospitality businesses succeed online using a variety of cutting-edge technologies with NextGuest, now part of Cendyn. They are the world’s leading hotel technology and digital marketing company serving brands like Hard Rock, Hyatt, IHG, AMResorts, Hilton, Caesars and many more.
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Artyom Sklyarov, the co-founder, is an accomplished Creative Director, Designer and Digital Developer with 20 years of experience in interactive media and a portfolio of award-winning projects. He has worked directly with many major hotel brands including Marriott, Hard Rock Hotels, Loews Hotels and many more.
How did you approach diversity and inclusion within your company?
My co-founder and I are both immigrants and I, the CEO, am a person of color. Our experiences have shown us that you cannot have the best talent without building a diverse and inclusive team. We are developing a global market of travel counselors, hotels and couples that span all identities and backgrounds. That said, it is important for us that our employees get down to work to best serve the diversity of humans in our network.
What has been the most difficult part of building the business so far?
The hardest part of founding Lovu is self-financing in these tough economic times. My income was significantly affected by the pandemic, so it was a financial battle to begin with. It’s hard to earn the trust of angel investors during a pandemic as the travel industry suffers.
Typically, travel industry startups face a pretty tough time to make an impact – so why are you going to be one of the lucky ones?
No one owns a romantic trip. No one is offering a solution that helps make the romantic travel industry easier for everyone involved. This segment of the travel industry is a fair game, and not all players are doing it a disservice. So we dedicate everything we do to couples; they are the heart and soul of our business. We focus on a very targeted segment of travel consumers, and we know how to find and engage them.
Plus, travel service providers love us because we add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bottom line that they would otherwise have paid to third-party booking sites. We help them in so many ways, from lowering the cost of sales to personalized customer engagement. I think we have a great formula for being one of the lucky ones.
In a year, what state do you think your startup will be in?
We will have a scalable product, paying customers, and fundraising to continue to grow Lovu.
What’s your endgame? (IPO, acquisition, growth and maintenance of the private sector, etc.)
It depends on how we do it. I am open to an acquisition with the right company, like The Knot Worldwide or by staying private.
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