CEOWORLD magazine gives you an exclusive interview with Mr. Shatrughan Sinha, CEO, and Founder of HolidayKeepers. Mr. Sinha is on a mission to change the way people experience vacations & holidays and incorporate a new innovative travel revolution. His motto is to add value to vacations and be the keepers of luxurious holidays around the world.
Mr. Sinha- having pursued his passion as a Computer science Engineer for over two decades, Mr. Sinha’s path after a promising stint from being into investment banking took him with his entrepreneurial skills that brought him to his real calling in real estate investment. Eventually, his fervor for design shifted to the holiday & vacation home sector. Since 2017, Mr. Sinha and the other founders of the company have welcomed guests from all over the world to stay at their holiday/vacation homes (in and around Poconos, PA) and have been offering their warm & loving hospitality with open arms. As a seasoned entrepreneur, he helped scores of clients and countless viewers realize his real estate/vacation dreams. With his broad experience and complementary skills, not to forget his dynamic approach, the design of HolidayKeepers grew multifold in a small span of time. Today the company is worth close to $75 million and owns/operates in the United States. Mr. Sinha takes a fearless approach to business and says he’s never worried about making mistakes. After all, that’s often when he learns the most. It’s because of this approach that he says he did well so far. He gets an adrenaline rush every time he invests and acquires a luxurious holiday home.
What is the HolidayKeepers Origin Story?
Shatrughan Sinha: Traveling and real estate are two of my greatest passions. We traveled across the globe during our professional life. While working with Credit Suisse in NY, my family had decided to take a small vacation trip to the Pocono Mountains, which was just a two hours drive. That was the turning point and we fell in love with the place the experience was so amazing that we bought a second home in the Poconos. Eventually, I decided to list this home as a vacation/holiday home and started getting good responses from friends and tourists.
I wanted to share my holiday experience with others, with my knack for real estate I visualized an opportunity and things kicked off in the right direction towards growth.
Why did you choose Poconos PA as the starting point for HolidayKeepers? How do you identify the ideal vacation rental home?
Shatrughan Sinha: As a resident of Princeton, Poconos was the quickest getaway to a quality vacation. It was also accessible enough for me to manage my rental portfolio while working on Wall Street. Although I have invested in many places globally, Poconos became my favorite because of its high ROI, popularity & the love people have for Poconos.
When I started off, the real estate market was down in the Poconos, but I saw there was a lot of untapped potential in the place, especially in the Vacation rental Portfolio. I could comprehensively expand my exposure to around 40+ Single-family homes in the first 2 years. I am a traveler at heart and have witnessed great changes in technology in the past few years that are changing the world and its approach. I want to be a part of all that change for the betterment of everyone and the future.
Today, real estate in the Poconos has grown up to 400%. I am glad my instincts & fearless approach to business were right.
How difficult was it to get things off the ground in the first two years? How did you overcome the challenges?
Shatrughan Sinha: Well, I decided to quit my high paying white collar job and started focusing on real estate as my full-time gig. I went on investing more time & money in different real estate portfolios to hedge the risk. In order to add value to the property, I got involved in Fix & Flip, Rehab, and new constructions. It was really a challenge to deal with different contractors, workers, and people from different walks of life. Every day was a challenge as I was expanding very fast and during this process, I did experience cash flow issues. We had to continue doing what we had because we wanted to be in the luxury segment of Vacation Rental and to be our USP.
With time & effort, soon we had more portfolios to handle and that was a challenge. Not to forget that I was dealing with contractors for the first time in my life.
The solution was in the problem, when I saw a property’s portfolio had grown I sold it and started investing in million-dollar properties. I identified there was a growing demand for luxurious vacation and rental homes. This high demand, low supply, and high IRR in luxury rentals gave me an idea to invest more in high-end properties.
We had doubled our asset values in just six months. We acquired Terracottage Realtors (LLC) to help us identify and acquire new properties. We also acquired SKIMBOX as a tech company to spearhead our business with the help of the latest marketing techniques & robust technology, and innovative young minds.
What are your roles and responsibilities as a CEO?
Shatrughan Sinha: I have delegated some of the important responsibilities to other leaders within our organization because as a leader you have to create future leaders. My role is to work closely with these leads. It is like a family-owned business but without family members.
I am involved in the acquisition of new assets and risk evaluation. I am in charge of finding new business opportunities. A periodic small amelioration! I always tell myself, to try and improve by at least 1% every day, every hour. 1% isn’t trying to move pinnacles or mountaintops, but it’s small daily advances & enhancements that make me a better leader or make my economic support better. The impulse to be a marginally exceptional leader than I was yesterday keeps my passion formative as an entrepreneur & keeps my passion alive.
What is it like to work in HolidayKeepers?
Shatrughan Sinha: At HolidayKeepers we have a work environment that is young, dynamic & innovative in its approach, and it’s the same with our other ventures. I am the most geriatric person in the company. Most of our revenue goes to the employees because we value our employees and their efforts. We take care of their personal growth along with their professional growth. I did hire exceptional talent & feel I’m very lucky & heaven-sent to have many great minds building our dreams together.
How do you ensure your guests and hosts choose HolidayKeepers when there are other bigger vacation companies like Airbnb, Vrbo & Booking.com?
Shatrughan Sinha: We are distinct from our competitors. Our business model is not limited to only booking, hosting, and property management, we are also an asset-owning company. When you are just doing property management, you don’t have the flexibility to do much as you are not in control of everything. Our foremost principal focus is on guest comfort and making them feel delighted. This brings transparency to the entire team of HolidayKeepers. We give inexhaustible attention to what matters, especially when it comes to guest comfort & luxury. We offer a better experience to our guests as we are in control of every tiny detail of the vacation homes. All listed villas are fully inspected to ensure they meet the highest quality standards to make our guests feel pampered. Each of our properties offers proximity to desirable locations like the walking trails, vineyards, mountain ranges to ski or national parks, providing the perfect setting to reconnect with your family and rejuvenate yourself.
Where do you see Holidaykeepers in the next 5 years?
Shatrughan Sinha: As much as we hope we want to grow into an internationally & globally recognized company in the next 5 years from now. We want to continue giving flabbergasting service to all our guests & clients. We are also planning to have our own restaurant & bar business, which will help to better serve our customers/guests. The goal is to be involved in the whole process of a vacation, from owning the properties to adding features and amenities. We also want to create a platform for others to host their holiday home on our website.
In the next 5 years, we want to grow as an asset-based company, from 25 to 125 houses. Add at least $125 million worth of assets. We also want to be identified as a global vacation & holiday company having diversified assets globally.
Through our other venture Mudiita Developers, we are also venturing into construction and new lines of development with innovative ideas and giving a unique experience of vacationing to our guests.
How did the COVID-19 Pandemic affect your business?
Shatrughan Sinha: During the pandemic people were not allowed into hotels and the travel restrictions made it even harder for people to get out of their homes. When the world was experiencing a lockdown our unique business model helped us to stay afloat.
When hotels with lots of people were no longer an option, private vacation rentals were the next best thing. We quickly created a free high-speed wifi-enabled working environment in all our holiday homes and gave guests an option to stay for longer periods of time.
You would be surprised to know that we achieved about 40% revenue growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. We further expanded our Luxury & Unique Homes in 2021.
What are your suggestions to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Shatrughan Sinha: My suggestions for young and upcoming entrepreneurs are, that they should take calculated risks. Do something out of the box, try to see the opportunity, and quickly react by taking quick & bold decisions. You should always be ready to learn. Use your experience. Do not be afraid of trying new things. Learn from your mistakes and don’t give up.
The other most important suggestion I would give is to add the right mix of people to your business and take care of them well. Make everyone feel like they are working for their own company. Try to be innovative. Have the right people in your journey who are ready to support you, correct you and guide you in your journey.
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