Remember, how you always keep wondering as to where you should be throwing your next birthday bash at? Or simply, where could you host your parents’ Silver or Golden Jubilee Anniversaries. No?
Well, I am sure this must have happened with you at least once in your life when you were at a party discussing with your adjacent guy whom you befriended just 5 minutes ago (a girl if you’re that much of a stud) that how the venue for this party could have been better. “You know, for this big a party, I would definitely have booked Hotel Decent.” (We have no collaborations with Hotel Decent, Name used just for the pun).
Keeping all these issues in mind, Shriti Chhajed came up with the idea of starting BookEventZ, your go-to portal for booking Venues, Vendors, and What Not.
Shriti was born and brought up in a business class family. She completed her formal education and qualified as an Electronics and Telecommunications engineer from SGSITS and further did her MBA from SP Jain in Dubai & Singapore. After working with Tech Mahindra and HCL for 5 years, gaining a good mix of marketing and tech experience, she decided it was time to give her long-standing dream a chance.
A foodie at heart, she had always wanted to start a restaurant. She did even work on a few restaurant ideas – a theme based restaurant, a chaai point with hobby ideas but somehow did not venture into this field as late as 2012. With an interest in this industry and the will to figure out an idea which could be scalable, more tech-based and which did not include , I zeroed down on Urbanrestro and started working on it in Sep 2012.
“Sometimes it used to take me couple of days to solve a problem but when you get to a solution, the experience was always an enriching one.”
“Urbanrestro started as a table reservation portal, that’s why the name ‘Urbanrestro’ but as we interacted with more people in this space, we realized that there is a much bigger problem to solve (that of booking event venues),” says Shriti. And hence, in 2012, figuring that this is a problem worth solving, they expanded from a table reservation portal to a one-stop portal which would cater all event-related services. So that’s how Urbanrestro became BookEventZ , and today it has paved its way to become India’s leading portal for booking Venues, Vendors, and Artists.
Throwing some light on what her venture is all about, Shriti says, “BookEventZ is India’s first Party Venue and Banquet Booking platform, With over 3500+ venues ranging from restaurants, lounges to resorts, hotels, party plots, and caterers; our portal helps you save time, save money and plan the perfect event.”
Their banquet booking services are an unmatched service for those who are looking forward to celebrate majestically. “Banquet experts at BookEventz help you book the right venues for your events at the best-negotiated rates. The portal helps you pick venues which are best matched to your needs, helping you find ideal places for board meetings, conferences, special occasions like wedding, reception, bachelor party, birthday party etc.,” she added, “Our other services include Group Booking at Restaurants & and culinary workshops for a unique party experience.”
“The mantra should be keep trying for solutions rather than thinking about the problems. Now, I am able to build lot of parallels with the way I used to spend time-solving problems while preparing for engineering entrance exams.”
“BookEventZ is a group of passionate foodies who believe in living life in the moment; working together to create a solution that makes your celebrations more memorable. Tell us your requirements and we’ll make sure that you have a celebration to remember,” she says, reflecting on her mind-child like a proud parent.
BookEventZ is a small team of 40 people across different verticals, namely- Product/Tech team, Sales, Marketing & Business Development team who are targeting people who are looking for booking any event. Be it a wedding, a conference, a birthday, a social or a corporate get together, they do it all. Consumers can now book their venues and other vendors sitting at home with the same experience as before and without any hassle.
Talking about that, they constantly update their website so as to give their consumers the best of an experience. They provide filtered venue searches, no. of guests, budget, venue type, amenities, occasion along with the availability and standard packages of the venue. Not only this, a virtual tour of the venue with a 360-degree view is what helps their TG decide between the various options. They also tentatively block the venue for 48 hours via the website for interested customers via advance payment.
“Believe in yourself, stay focus and keep trying. When you are building something new, you will face many challenges, you might have to change people’s buying behavior.”
Shriti agrees that they do have competitors. But most of them are focussed only on weddings. She says, “We have the first-mover advantage in this space. We have a vendor side product for real-time availability and offers. Our current turnover is 1.5 Cr a month which is doubling every 3 months.” Now that’s really impressive.
They want to create something which people of the generations to come will remember and use. They are trying to aggregate and bring event-related service providers under one roof so that people can select their vendors online. Having successfully established the model in Mumbai, in next 12 months their target is to increase their presence in other cities of the country. “We want to be with our customers not just at the booking stage but till their events happen and we will be coming out with products to solve their pain points along the way,” says the leading lady of the startup.
We asked her how she is so inspired and motivated to follow her passion and her response was heartwarming. “I always looked at my dad (a businessman) for how easily he took all challenges in business without letting anyone know and enjoying the family life as always, these all things influenced my decision for what I am doing today.”
“When we started in this space, we realized most of the events really did not need an event manager as they just wanted a venue with basic decor and food; for those events getting help with finding the right venue and caterer and booking it easily was a non-existent solution. Our website saw a lot of traction for such bookings in the initial days – cocktail party, birthdays, team lunches & dinners and so on, and now we see customers booking events from 15 people to 5000 people online.”
They launched the website on 21st Dec 2012 with 9 restaurants/lounges on board and got their first booking on 24th Dec for 4 people. “That was my defining moment” – Shriti.
Event booking methods need to shift from the traditional offline mode to the quicker, easier and convenient online modes. Few years before, planning an event was a big unsolved problem. For each event customer had to search for venues, check their availability, visit each of them and then negotiate prices with each one of them. Vendors also experienced major flakes when it came to promoting their venues to the customers, as the latter would end up organizing at places they were aware of, or in or around their locality. Seeing this as an opportunity, we entered the event space and have seen a huge traction of requests, signifying a massive shift in the consumer’s behaviour today.
Being an Entrepreneur has affected Shriti’s life in an amazing way, “In terms of experience, have got a lot to learn and I still am learning. I love working and people used to tell me that they can’t imagine me sitting idle. I get involved in things which make me work a lot which is very true. Be it a family function or a social get together or office, I have always been the planner and the executioner. Having my husband along with me in this venture makes it easy to spend time together rather all time together.”