As a woman, my brain constantly runs around the unfinished office work, errands to run at home and a host of other things all at the same time. Every single day, I get up motivated to be the best in all my roles in Life, but some times it leaves not a single minute of time for myself. Even the best of engines need oiling and all of us need ME-Time. And when the ME time is going out with my family, while being responsible for everything in the trip, it is not relaxing but is more stressful. Sometimes, all I need is a break from my routine and go somewhere, have fun and come back strong. Few years ago, all women tours were unheard of, but now we see this trend emerging slowly but surely steadily.
F5escapes, founded by Malini Gowrishankar is an alternate travel company specializing in women-only travel. [pullquote align=”right”]F5 is all about offering experiences rather than tours, helping ladies hit the ‘Refresh’ button by taking them to different places and treat them to wonderful experiences.[/pullquote]
The F5 Team
Malini Gowrishankar is the ideator and proprietor of F5 Escapes. An ex-techie, traveller, travel blogger and a voice-over artist. The Women Entrepreneurship Program at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore helped her ideas take shape. Thus was born, F5 Escapes.
Kavya Balakrishnan is the first employee of F5escapes. Armed with a degree in Psychology, Journalism and Literature. Brings to the table, experience in public relations, event planning and management. Loves all things F5!
Sanjana Sarma is an industrial psychologist by qualification, brings in a wealth of content development, management and training experience. F5’s marketing guru!
Dipanwita Das is a startup enthusiast and hard core techie. Always keen to explore the use of technology to better our business. Always ready to get her hands dirty with field work. Of course, comes with an insatiable appetite for travel!
Ashcharya Prabhu is the official photographer of F5! Self-confessed traveller. Off-Roader. Drives a Scorpio (sometimes a meek Zen too). Loves exploring new places. Armed with a degree in Psychology, Journalism and Literature.
What makes F5escapes different is not the fact of serving a particular gender but maintaining discipline in their service and going beyond the basics to ensure their users receive convenient and comfortable experience at their stops and travel. They offer different kind of itineraries, started off with the monsoon waterfall season – including a trip to the Jog, followed by a mom & kids experience in a farmstay and a camping experience too!
The Key Features
- F5 prefers home stays to hotels and that too, ones that are highly recommended by word of mouth, their inner circle or trip advisor. They already have or try to strike a personal rapport with the owners (consists a team of ladies who are all travel lovers!) and that ensures that they take good care of their travelers.
- Personally visit the location and make sure all the arrangements are in place. With far away destinations, will include only those places that are strongly recommended by known inner circle – avid women travelers who have been there, done that and can vouch for the safety and comfort of the place.
- Are extremely punctual with all trips. Departing and arriving in city at sane time. Maintain central pick up points in the city, which are busy and are easily accessible by public transport. Keep in touch with our ladies till they reach home safe.
- All trips are non-alcoholic for all practical reasons.
- Get the profile of other guests staying in the property at the same time and ensure that there is a match.
- Travel in groups as a fact that women feel much safer in groups!
Malini recollects that the first few trips were quite hard to promote, but with good testimonials and word of mouth publicity, F5 team gets lot of responses now. F5 team has a lot of memorable experiences from the trips conducted so far, one of the best being a daughter-in-law gifting a camping experience to her mother-in-law. In Malini’s own words, “We arranged for a cake and a card at the campsite and had a celebration out in the open, under a full moon, beside campfire! The tears of joy gleaming on the lady’s face as she read the card is one of the most memorable moments that we have had so far!”.
Malini also shared her experience pitching at the Startup Saturday Bangalore, “Being a volunteer at Headstart Network, I’ve been waiting to pitch on this stage for a while now! Through out my journey with HS, I’ve made innumerable connections and great business relationships. My pitch there took my SS experience to the next level – I was overwhelmed by the number of ideas/helpful suggestions that came up in the networking session post my pitch. I’m thankful to Prashant and Amit for having given me this wonderful opportunity”.
The Short getaways are one of the USP’s of team F5, but they are looking forward to to expand the boundaries of travel experiences. They have plans to start offering longer duration and long distance ones too, domestic, followed by international trips and gradually increase the number of trips per month.
TTP’s take on F5escapes
F5 is a welcome change for women, by the women. These days, women understand that good quality ME-time is essential to manage the fast paced demands of family and career. F5 team with their stringent checks on all things related to women travel, have definitely won trust from fellow women. Having said that, we do see a lot of mushrooming in the area of experiential travel. F5 team needs to be consistently innovating and surprising their travelers and leave them home with stories to share with.