Olami Akinosho runs Travelushious Concierge (TC), an online travel service that helps people check items off their personal bucket lists while adding tremendous value.
In this interview, Olami shares what motivated her to start TC and focus on a very personalized travel experience. She also explains where her passion for travel originates and why she decided to build a business around it.
Her advice to anyone starting a business in New York:
From the beginning, know that New York's a mighty empire of humanity. My advice: (1) look to add value to the stream of human faces, (2) maintain a ‘I can't wait till tomorrow to do what I can today’ attitude and (3) graciously living will lessen stress from the Big City lifestyle that can weigh on one’s psyche, practicalize these into starting a NY-based business and in time you'll see great impact.
Can you tell us a bit about Travelushious Concierge? What else do you do as an entrepreneur?I started out all by myself as a freelancer of sorts before becoming an official ladypreneur. To pay the bills I dove into consulting work and that's never fizzled out. I currently work as an Author's Rep for a biologist and artist and have been part of several exciting projects over the years.
My first company, Guest-In-Rent, was formed in 2010 to find and welcome national/international travelers then help them stay in safe private homes around NYC instead of hotels/motels. Fast forward a few years and it had evolved into a Travelushious offering one-stop travel services to tourists around the city.
What does Travelushious Concierge do that makes it better than the rest? In other words, how did you find your competitive edge?Better is relative, TC is unique in that we help you truly get your bucket list taken care of through personalized service. Just seeing the sights isn't enough. We help truly bring the experience of traveling to life.
To keep my competitive edge I set the bar for my personal goals a little higher each time I reach them. Personal challenges are important, critical actually, to help me maintain a sense of accomplishment throughout daily operations.
What do you attribute your success to? Is there a trait you have or a person who helped you along the way?Well, I'm somewhat of a travel artist. If people are looking for the average travel experience there are zillions of cookie cutter agencies out there. If people want a unique, curated, and personalized experience they come to TC.
In terms of traits, I'm known for my compassion. It's a dominant state of mind for me, so it translates into the way I bring travel-dreams to life. I understand the deep, ancient, and stirring desire to see more of the world around us.
What does a typical day look like for you? Is there something you make a point to do each day?My day actually starts more like a graveyard shift.
First is feeding social media platforms to reach out and engage fellow travelers and like-minded individuals. Then comes shopping at travel wholesalers to meet each of our current traveler requests, deliver price-match sales, etc.
Then I typically spend time with Travel Leaders Group worldwide to confirm package details and pricing at Vacation.com. This tool is very helpful for me in delivering travel concierge services.
What's the biggest business mistake that taught you a powerful lesson? Would you mind sharing how it changed your business?Referrals are a big part of our business, especially from family and friends of travelers who've used our services, but early on I learned these types of referrals can caused misplaced expectations.
Almost everyone will tell you they love or want to travel, but not everyone is an ideal customer for TC. Applying this insight we treat individuals as they come rather than trying to fashion a one-size-fits-all approach.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.Times got tough when one of the partners/property owner's wife passed away and he slowly gave up the property that I used for about 4 years for Guesting. What helped me stay afloat was the same aspiration that started my business - my mother.
My mother was a genuine ‘Woman of Substance’ and I tap into her memory and draw strength when facing challenges in life. She wouldn't give up, and she taught me not too either.
Did you have a hard time starting your business? How did you handle time and resources constraints?It was rough only because initially I needed money to help my mother when she fell ill. At the same time a husband/wife team I knew ran into some trouble and needed a way to generate extra income as well.
They asked me to house sit and within a year we were using their place as a touch-off point for the business. In terms of time and resources, because TC is a team effort it's not as difficult as it is for the average solopreneur trying to juggle everything at once.
Is there a type of marketing that has worked amazingly for Travelushious Concierge? If so, how did you stumble upon it?We focus on three kinds of marketing, none of which are all that out of the ordinary: word of mouth, Yelp-style social proofing, and personal networking events.
I strongly believe in reading. Do you have a book that you highly recommended Startup Savant readers and I grab a copy of?I don't get to read as much as I'd like to these days simply because of time constraints. But, I do watch a ton of Gary Vaynerchuk's content on YouTube. Anyone who isn't familiar should give it a gander.