Shri Lildharrie is no stranger to the marriage of romance, travel, and tech. The founder of the soon-to-be-released romance travel app, Lildharrie boasts nine years of experience at the world’s leading wedding website, The Knot, as well as founding The Hotelogist Inc., a hospitality technology company.
Additionally, if you’ve ever tried to plan a honeymoon, destination wedding, or even a weekend couple’s retreat, you are most likely aware of how laborious the process can be. Lildharrie understands this, and LOVU is his solution.
“While working at the world's leading wedding planning website TheKnot.com, I learned about all the hard work and planning involved in every detail of a couple's wedding. The honeymoon is no different,” Lildharrie says. “Couples spend countless hours researching and planning. Online travel sites are not helping these consumers, and finding a qualified travel expert is also difficult for consumers. I saw a gap in the travel industry, and I am filling it with LOVU.”
Additionally, by cutting out the middleman, LOVU eliminates the traditional 30% commission typically taken from third-party sites while providing users with an interactive experience that is as simple as it is enjoyable. And, in turn, offering a more financially viable option for the hotels and travel consultants working with the app.
Generating an Audience
With a mixture of content marketing directed towards travel consumers, including utilizing brand marketing, specialized media, social media, public relations campaigns, expert advice marketing, and influencer marketing — LOVU has a plan in place to begin appealing to their initial audience. However, their use of varying marketing strategies doesn’t end there. The startup intends on using a blend of advertising, email marketing, trade conferences, content marketing, and ongoing “virtual mastermind” classes to engage and attract other professionals.
Despite having the experience, skill, and strategy to effectively market a new company, LOVU is not immune to challenges. It is no secret that starting (and even maintaining) a business during and after the pandemic has been challenging, especially for companies in the travel and tourism industry. “The most challenging part of founding LOVU is self-funding in these hard economic times. My income was significantly affected by the pandemic, so it's been a financial battle to get started,” Lildharrie says. Moreover, finding investors has been a challenge for the company while the industry struggles to rebuild after such an abrupt halt. Lildharrie observes that “gaining angel investors' confidence during a pandemic — while the travel industry is hurting — is tough.”
Fortunately, Lildharrie has a plan to fund the startup while generating interest from early adopters, “I am overcoming this [by] pre-selling the platform to early adaptors, hotels, and travel advisors. They sign up via the LOVU website, and we launched a consumer crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com”
As Lildharrie notes, “No one owns romance travel. No one is offering a solution that's helping make the romantic travel industry simpler for everyone involved. This segment of the travel industry is fair game, and all players underserve it. We devote everything we do to couples; they are the heart and soul of our business.”