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Meet the entrepreneur using social media to change the travel game

The Bali Bible is a Bali travel platform, what started out as a Facebook page for recommendations in 2008 has ten years later become a fully-fledged travel business and tourism guide. With close to a million Instagram followers and nearly two million people a month on its homepage, The Bali Bible could be considered one of Australia’s most successful online travel technology platforms. Just recently, the platform introduced its online booking and deals offering which allows you to book and explore the very best of Bali in one online location.

Founded by husband and wife Simon and Lani te Hennepe, the travel site grew from the duo’s love of Bali and channelled that passion into a social media page and online travel site for the world to share and contribute to.

Lani te Hennepe was the brainchild behind The Bali Bible and now is the Head of Social Media and Partnerships. Her passion for Social media and creative has been a key driver for a labour of love – which now passes 8 years where she has been heavily involved in social and digital media and headed up the Creative and Social Media Channels for The Bali Bible.

Dynamic Business had a chat with te Hennepe about The Bali Bible journey, running a business with a romantic partner and her latest endevours.

The entrepreneur previously worked as a Recruitment Manager for a large-scale corporation in the technology sector. While working there she learnt about digital media and discovered a gap in the market that allowed people to find curated recommendations from real people so she started The Bali Bible.

“Whenever I took annual leave it was always to head to Bali and every time when I’d come back I’d have colleagues and friends alike that would ask for my recommendations. It was through these conversations that our idea for The Bali Bible started,” she said.

“The Bali Bible started as a PDF document in 2009. I used to get asked all the time about my favourite places to eat, sleep and party in Bali and I decided to create a document that my friends could use. When my friends visited Bali they didn’t want to stay in the most popular 5 star hotel; nor did they want to go to the top-rated bar. They wanted to do as I had always done – they wanted to know where I’d had the Babi Gulings I always raved about, for example, or how to get to my “secret” beach.

“Simon and I started a Facebook page then turned that into a website that now has over 1.5 million followers and gets over 2 million hits to its website per month. Instagram was reasonably new at the time so we were very early adopters and got our foot in the door at the right time.”

Now the Bali Bible sits under the wider business of TRAVLR, with users able to book entire curated trips through the startup’s website. The startup is profitable and is already in the midst of seeking a Series B capital injection after the duo acquired Series A late in 2018.

The startup founder says social media is hugely important.

“These days everyone is on social media. They’re actively looking for inspiration on where to go and what to do while planning their holiday. Not only do we have incredible imagery of the very best of Bali on Instagram but we’ve backed this up with authentic lists of recommendations via our website so that our audience can get the best of both worlds,” she says.

“Our audience are digitally savvy, fast-paced and fun. They’re active social media users and expect us to be the same. Our hashtag (#thebalibible) currently outperforms Tripadvisor, which just goes to show the impact that social media has.”

Not only is The Bali Bible the ultimate guide to Bali, it’s also a place where you can book your next trip – and get yourself a great deal at some of the best places in Bali. The Bali Bible is still in its growth phase and evolving day by day.

“We’re making improvements every day and we’re constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of our users. Our social accounts continue to grow and since launching our deals and accommodation booking functionality we’ve seen big spikes in website traffic which signals that we’re on the right path to success,” says the founder.

The Bali Bible was self-funded by the duo while they worked full time. It was a ‘labour of love’ for many years. They worked long nights, early mornings and hustled to get all the content onto the website & socials. Like most start-up founders, they put everything they owned into the business and hoped that it would be successful.

“Two years ago we decided to risk it all, and put every cent of profit we made into expanding The Bali Bible into global platform TRAVLR. We received great traction, and after some great evidence of traction we completed a Series A funding round. TRAVLR acts as the technology platform allowing users to book their end-to-end trips across our destinations (Bali, New Zealand, Fiji and Indonesia). We couldn’t be happier with how TRAVLR is progressing, we’re reinventing the user experience for the better,” she said.

The Bali Bible plans to keep growing and evolving in order to give customers the best user experience.

Top tips from Lani te Hennepe:

Top tips for social media for a startup business?

Creating a brand identity is key. Think about your tone of voice, how you want to engage with your followers and what type of imagery will work for your audience. Posting frequencing is another key one, set up a schedule early on and play around with timings so that you can work out what times get you the best engagement. Latergram is great for this.

One thing that has worked well for The Bali Bible is just being ourselves. The way we speak, post and communicate is fun and honest. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we give damn good recommendations on where to go.

Top tips for running a business with a romantic partner?

Trust in the other person’s ability, try to have time-out from talking work and excellent communication is the key!

Best business advice you have ever been given?

If you don’t know what decision to make, always choose the one that benefits the user the most.

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Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher, editor, Dynamic Business

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