Ever since tourists visiting Assam experienced firsthand the homely reception and the manifold benefits of homestays, the industry has taken off like never before. Standard homestay establishments have sprung up everywhere in the state serving travellers from all over India and beyond with comfortable, affordable and tasteful living spaces that are unlike anywhere else. One place that has caught the “homestay fever” is Dibrugarh. Little wonder it has since become a choice destination for many tourists.
With numerous tea estates surrounding the land, amazing landscape, vegetation and breathtaking natural attractions, Dibrugarh has more than enough to offer when it comes to tourism and sightseeing. However, the homestay industry in Dibrugarh still has a long way to go. Since Bhaskar, the first-ever homestay in the region, launched in 2017, more entrepreneurs have taken up the mantle to ensure that they promote the tourism culture in Dibrugarh by launching even more stylish homestays in the region.
For those who have tried it out, there’s a lot that goes into it. Running a successful homestay in Dibrugarh comes with its fair share of challenges. As a result, many homestay owners have had to close their gates when the pressure became unbearable and they found it difficult to sustain the business. But since he opened his gates in 2017, Pallav Gogoi’s Bhaskar Homestay has gone on to become one of the most trusted homestays in Northeast India, attracting several awards from Booking.com as the homestay with the most reviews.
A mechanical engineer by training, and also armed with a masters degree in advertising and PR, Pallav always had a passion to work in the tourism sector. Burdened by the lack of proper homestay establishments in his beloved Dibrugarh, Pallav sought to open the very first in the region. He searched for a property fit to accommodate such a big project, all to no avail. Undeterred, he began a B&B on the first floor in his own house. Apart from being economically advantageous, it also allowed him to serve his customers full time.
After fully launching his establishment, he didn’t have to wait long for his first customer, a Swiss native who came across the homestay by pure serendipity. As he grew in popularity, especially among French and German tourists, Pallav added more rooms and expanded his business. He began relating his experience to the rest of the world through various social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. This also served as a means of publicity for his business, garnering customers from different countries around the world. Once he got the word out there, it became easy for people to locate and lodge in his homestay.
“I named it Bhaskar Homestay after our family diagnostic centre called Bhaskar Laboratory. There was one room vacant on the first floor of our house, which was built by my father for visiting family members. I persuaded my reluctant parents to let me open a homestay. I listed it on Airbnb and to my surprise we had a guest from Switzerland visiting us the very next day. She booked it for a day but ended up staying for a week. Since then there has been no looking back. Along with the local travellers from in and around the country, we’ve hosted people from more than 20 countries worldwide,” says Pallav.
This wasn’t only the start of something great for him, but Pallav soon became a trailblazer and inspiration to many other Dibrugarhis who needed a push to venture into the homestay business.
When the opportunity came for Pallav to increase the number of rooms in his homestay, he chose to keep it at 6 rooms to avoid congestion and overcrowding. Providing his customers with an unforgettable experience means more to Pallav than making much more profit. He ensures all the rooms in his homestay are properly ventilated. He also provides his guests with lounge spaces and terraces to enhance their comfort and create that feeling of openness and give them a memorable experience. For guests interested in gardening, there are gardens with diverse plants for that purpose.
In Bhaskar Homestay, cleanliness and hygiene are a very big deal. They ensure they maintain a high standard when it comes to cleaning the rooms to promote comfort and give tourists the experience of “a home away from home” with a great blend of Northeastern style and cuisine. The different rooms in the homestay are equipped with the necessary amenities that guests require to enjoy their stay.
Over the years, Pallav has been able to set his homestay apart from the rest by ensuring he gets it right in two key aspects; hospitality and food. His homestay provides tasty treats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He understands that a well-fed customer is a happy customer. He promotes his culture and traditions through the cuisines he serves his guests.
Pallav currently generates a profit of more than Rs 1 lakh per month from his homestay. Before the pandemic, it was almost double the current amount.
“Every review on Google/ Booking.com/Airbnb/TripAdvisor talks about our food. We provide one of the tastiest spreads during breakfast, lunch and dinner. We stress a lot on food because we strongly believe that food is one of the most important things which lets one know about the culture and traditions of particular demography. There are also two separate kitchens and a dining hall for the guests. One can cook their food if they wish to. On request, we arrange local tours and sightseeing activities,” Pallav shares.
From the hospitality standpoint, Bhaskar Homestay goes beyond just great rooms and tasty meals to let their guests participate in bonding activities like cooking and gardening with their own family. And for interested guests, Pallav gives them a delightful tour of his ancestral village to give them a feel of village life.
The room rates at Bhaskar Homestay start from Rs 1,200 onwards and go up to Rs 2,000, plus GST.