For Long we have compared our Online Travel portals and talk about growth of internet travel industry dependent on them. Internet in west for long has been source of travel information with travelers sharing their experiences online and destination guides available across all horizontal portals. In india the case has been different with indian internet space giving information what has been documented by Lonely Planet or international travelers on india. Though in last 16-18 months we have seen a change with travel information portals backed by these OTA’s coming into play, Makemytrip.com came in with oktatabyebye.com and yatra.com came out with raahi.com. This space has lot of growth potential with all these travelogues concentrating on destination guides and trip planning aspect mainly employing lot of technology play like blogging, social networking, forums for increasing user generated content.
Holidayiq.com – This is one of the most evolved travel information forum as compared to the other travelogs being talked about in this post. The site is meant for more evolved internet users as really i dont find it very simple to use. Keeping in mind how much people are use to OTA sites to find flights and hotels information i firmly believe the interface used by these travel forums should completely emulate that. What i liked about holidayiq.com was the quality of content being generated you go to their forums or to reviews done by other users on hotel properties to destinations they are pretty helpful as they talk in travelers language. They have a tie up with Yahoo Farechase to return impartial best possible flight results.
Expert Travel Information : 8/10
Destination Guides : 6/10
What holidayiq.com can do better is organize the site more in terms of interactive maps and attractions at destinations as core point for organizing tours in destination. They need to work more on usability front as they need to come out accessible for common INDIAN internet user which is still not comfortable using the forums.
raahi.com – A Yatra.com initiative which is more the travel portal driven instead of user review driven is a great resource to get snapshot on each destination with rich media content like videos and photographs being shared. The quality of user reviews and destinations is not as great as holidayiq.com but also doesnt fare up according to expectation. Better user navigation and interface than holidayiq.com gives it an edge. The site has more uphill task in generation of user content and with current advertising campaigns being executed we feel they should succeed.
Expert Travel Information : 4/10
Destination Guides : 8/10
If raahi.com can sustain little bit more without monetizing their site with google ads that would be really appreciated as they are very distracting.
oktatabyebye.com – Makemytrip.com play in this field is an ideal balance between the expert forums provided by holidayiq and structured destination guides provided by raahi.com. They score high on usability with all major important features of sites used by people given reference or entry point from homepage. Also the way they are sharing it information without need for user login etc makes it score points over holidayiq.com. Though raahi.com is more detailed in its reviewing OTBB scores on aggregation of internal content with structured presentation of data. Another reason why i like them better over others is ability to plan road trips which is major differentiator for regular travelers.
Expert Travel Information : 6/10
Destination Guides : 8/10
Overall these sites are good starting point for anyone planning a trip in India but they need to evolve further in terms of data on selection of airlines for traveling or airport information. Keeping in mind most of the OTA’s currently focus on offering airline tickets and services are being rendered out of airport hence lot of data should flow in terms of airport location and services at airports. How to plan trip from airport to attractions or business meeting venues available in vicinity. Its all about not copying the forums and websites in US but being innovative based on Indian market requirements.