Archive for the 'Travel Portal' Category

Travelogues in India – vs vs

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, came in with and came out with 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. – 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 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 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. – A 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 but also doesnt fare up according to expectation. Better user navigation and interface than 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 can sustain little bit more without monetizing their site with google ads that would be really appreciated as they are very distracting. – play in this field is an ideal balance between the expert forums provided by holidayiq and structured destination guides provided by 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 Though 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.

Interview with Amit Kumar Co-Founder of – Independent India Trip Planning Platform

Below is an email interview we did with Amit Kumar from  – the site was recently launched in beta stage where its helping budget travelers plan out trips to indian destinations like agra, rajasthan etc.

 Q1. Can you give us some background on founders and their experience ?

All three current founders share a common passion for travel. While I have experience working in online advertising  in USA , our other two founders are from creative and technology backgrounds, with varied experience of working on national and international clients of repute ,both in India and USA respectively.

My experience with online media tracking and strategy combined with  our Creative Director’s experience in design and usability along with our Chief Technologists expertise in developing and implementing enterprise wide systems helps us to build a formidable team to launch our brand .


Q2. Some brief on the concept, why travel vertical, why now,how you started full time involvement and current setup, how are you funded?

All three of us co-founders always felt the need for an independent third-party that could lead us through a travel trip . I mean someone that assists me thru a travel planning process and not just a purchase process. By this I mean  a guide or a friend who could tell me where to travel to, what to do there, how to get there, where to buy purchase for the cheapest or the particular thing one is looking for  ,etc ,etc. Moreover we wanted a quality site  that takes some responsibility to ensure that all the information is made available readily by a trusted third-party rather than just banking on users to generate this content or a travel agent to form content ( which anyways is aimed at maximizing their own profits and not necessarily the best option for the traveler).

In a nutshell is a common platform that answers everyone’s queries regarding their Travel Search. So if you are a small hotel we have tool for you that allows you to market your property through our site, if you are a travel agent you can send offers directly to the customers looking for a service or say even market your hotels through our site by integrating into our hotel application  and soon we will have tools that will also allow users to compare online tickets. So our site is built to provide travelers with enough information regarding their travel needs and guide them and help them to decide and choose throughout their decision making  cycle up to the point of purchase.

Months before we registered as a private limited company , or you can say that from the time we formed a group , I went full-time with the company along with  1 programmer and 1 operations personnel and 3-4 freelance content writers.  Our other 2 co-founders have been working  part –time since our inception. This was important for two reasons, firstly it was imperative for one of the co-founders to be on board full time to deal with the daily nuances of a start –up .The other co-founders went on a job and worked part-time on to provide the much needed financial support  throughout our building process.

Now that the much needed initial work is complete  , the company is looking for investments to consolidate its position to build further on its vision.

Q3. How do you differentiate with community driven destination guide kind of sites like

Well I think to begin with we generate our own content unlike others and will have user generated content only  as an addition to our own content. Secondly we provide tools to other service providers that enable them to market their services or products directly through our technology. So in this case we fulfill a role of enabler, facilitator and an arbitrator. As of today we believe we are poised to be a more integrated site between travelers and service providers than any of our closest competitors. However , its seen that lots of other companies in similar space are trying to fulfill the same role that we are currently in .

Q4. Do you feel indian online travel space has more scope for vertical content driven portals or aggregators like or

Well naturally there should be some kind of aggregation on this front, I know for sure that these companies want to get their hands on content , but then again currently people are just trying to get better at what they do the best and eventually the economies of scale will dictate such portals merging with some other content driven portal.  I hope these companies understand earlier than later and get on the road of scalability rather than companies spending so much money individually on media and providing distributed services rather than integrated single platform to deliver.


Q5.  You guys have done a great job by cataloging destinations based on interest. Do you feel lot of travel information sites rather choose destination specific cataloging over interest. You feel destination brand name brings more value when travelers are organizing trips or end of the day experience they get out of the trip is more important.

It’s a catch 22 situation .  Lots of sites choose brand destinations to promote trips because that’s what users identify with and that’s what users are looking for . On the other hand brand destinations are “known destinations” because of the way they have been marketed in the first place. Basically we have found out that how a destination gets marketed is very important in determining how it is perceived. So many times certain service providers promote a certain mode of transportation or a particular route just for their own personal gains.  As we do not have any vested interest in promoting any particular service provider or travel product we are able to assess the product or service for its merits without any bias. Consider a situation where a travel agent pushes for a trip to Agra by car  for a night , when a user could definitely have a better option for  Agra in form of morning train and coming back the next day by the evening train. The traveler in such case is coerced by the travel agent to hire a car from Delhi coz he stands to make more money  even though it’s a 5 hr drive one way which could have very well be done in 2hr by train , thereby providing much more valuable time for tourist to spend .

Q6. Which is your target market. Keeping in mind existing stage of US online travel industry don’t you feel you are better positioned to service that mature market as compared to developing learning indian market.

Our Target market varies by product or service that we market. As of today our target market might seem to be skewed towards budget category if you look at hotels , but then again  a user can request any kind of package as all kinds of travel agents / service providers  cater to the leads originating from users.  As for content this line of differentiation is already blur , and overall  will thin out even more across the board as we evolve .

 As of targeting US ,I am not sure how I can leverage this better for one geographic market over the other , I think each will have its own challenges but at the end all users look for the same. Brand Loyalty is very tepid in this segment. Loyalty comes from being positioned as independent and being able to provide an unbiased  viewpoint .

Q7. Have you looked at monetizing your content with advertisements from indian ad networks or publishers.

Yes we have just started working on that and are actively looking for advertisers and alliance partners.

Q8. What Unique marketing strategies or synergies you have in pipeline to become revenue positive and have a clear growth trajectory. Like are you looking at social networking or wireless as mass reach out play.

Currently we are looking at just ways to provide a product and service to the user that helps them get the best of what they are looking for. We are still in the process of developing our model fully in terms of the tools that we will be introducing .

Q9. What all can we expect from in future.

In you will find a trusted advisor and friend  who will help you create the trip you are looking for.


Q10. Any word of advice for budding entrepreneurs on the whole startup experience.

1.Sometimes its better to raise money quickly  rather than wait for a prototype before going in the market to raise money.

2. Look for ways of consolidation and scale and don’t delve too much into share proportions. Your penny can be worth a pound or a pound a penny depending on your timing.

3. Take risk and either join a startup or have one of your own , whatever your level of risk taking is , the experience is invaluable , even if you struggle with money first. – Long Awaited Review – India’s Best Air Travel Search Engine

Long awaited as i have been waiting for a long time to review this site. Why Now? Before people start to comment on my review on 91di travel engine. Its important to know my intentions was not to bad mouth the ixigo portal but the business model approach. As i clearly understand most of the travel aggregators wish to live on referral sent to other transaction portal having rail and bus doesnt supplement the business model aspect. Though when they are going the extra mile and building viewer ship  why  not  have these mediums covered as well.

Getting back to the review what i like about is the right use of technology. Its one of the engineering master piece in Online Travel portal segment.  The search is not only efficient but provide multiple criteria for sorting the search results.

  • The site score heavily on UI although still rocks because of their simplicity and powerful use of AJAX combined with simple logical sense like use of calendar control which lists Monday as first day of the week (Also available at IXIGO) .
  • Search results are quicker as compared to other travel portals previously reviewed on this blog.
  • No transaction fees and coverage of low cost airlines uncluttered from marketing gimmicks for showing ticket costs after giving cash back on credit card etc used by some travel portals to gain attention from customers.
  •  I have read lot of reviews of people praising but i ran a simple search for Delhi – Bangalore 8th Sept 2007. It gave me cheapest flight result on Jet Lite flying to bangalore via hyderabad 3400 INR. Now on clicking the link to jet lite website it gave me the same option for 5300 INR. Further investigating the problem back on zoomtra site it came to my notice in case of connecting flight zoomtra hasnt calculated the taxes correctly. Though as a customer my time was wasted by wrong search results provided. On the other hand ixigo gave me correct results and didnt give me such time wasting option.


Overall while using the i faced no problem and was comfortable using it search results powered by recommendation services like fare outlook etc. Its a must use site for people who wish to plan travel in advance but only thing on my wish list not covered by ixigo is the the cheap deal sheet published on homepage of zoomtra. Good job done keeping beta in stealth mode otherwise clones would have killed the whole model.

90ditravel – Travel information aggregator in right sense

Lately we have seen so many travel aggregator sites coming up that the launch of GDS travel portals was getting overshadowed for instance when flightraja changes its name to “via” not much coverage was given by people  following the online travel industry. Though i had always wondered how can these sites like call themselves travel search engines as they only concentrate on providing information on air ticket search via travel portals and airline websites.

No one is looking at bus or train as possible combination to draw up trip. Earlier these engines might have had problem getting information online to aggregate from but now with everything from train reservation to bus reservation available online its not a struggle.

I stumble upon from and email sent by someone from the team behind the product. What interested me to review the product is unlikely other travel aggregators they are covering atleast the Train to begin with.  Keeping in mind all studies for the travel industry is talking about B & C class town where lot of them still find nearest airport 150-200 KM drive. It makes more sense to create travel iteniary which is a mix match from their hometown to final destination.

90ditravel has an effective search engine although they need to really work on the interface part. For example the search results can provide me option to sort by journey time or pricing.

The point is its good they have got the engine ready and building the result. But these results need to be formatted and  made sense of before users can seriously benefit out of them. Bottom line they need to make it more user friendly. They should seriously consider lot more use of AJAX and hiring external designer to get the job done right.  The product is good and they try to get the usability in line before or get their agreement through with indian railways to sell tickets online. They should also look at adding the combination of bus timetables and reservation to further increase reach out and mitigate any risk associated with travel portal deals getting through with the railways.

As they are still in Beta i hope to see changes requested by me as a user are also given due consideration.

Timesofindia parent group acquires stake in which was covered on this blog couple of months ago has finally got the right recognition they deserve. This is a nice niche portal concentrating on hotel reservations instead of running with the bunch in generating revenues from Online Air Tickets reservation. They have got a good inventory on hotels and they could easily become the next travelport if they tweak their portal to become travel agent friendly. Lot of people have got into Travel agency business with just a credit card and internet connection, Portals like these can further validate and scale using them as a channel to access more customers. Study has indicated large chunk of business for IATA agencies is fronted by non-IATA travel agents.

Hence any person looking  at starting travel portal should think of business model dependent on this segment instead of targeting end user directly. – Online booking engine launch gone to waste

With most of the online blogs carrying posts talking about launching its online booking engine and downplaying the fact parent company is involved in promoting their own budget hotel series/inventory. The announcement focuses on their plan to launch chain of budget hotels in india adding to their existing properties in London,swiss,Budapest etc.

If you goto the current website it doesn’t have any sense of localization nor does it talk about its coming to india plan. What is to be seen from here is lot of international travel portals will start hitting the indian shore with international inventory and access one of the largest  travel e-commerce friendly emerging market. If you notice 80% carriers in indian air space are low cost airlines selling tickets via direct to public web based booking model. Which is the reason travel portals are being made to work more harder in indian market. The international travel portal coming in with inventory should not do what NAUTICA is doing in india. offering their clothing range at multiple of dollar value they are retailing in US or other developed markets. India launch – First hand review

As business standard covered the news on launch of in india. It bring to me no surprise that travelocity has planned to follow a different strategy than its fellow competition, etc. is only offering hotel and other side trip reservations in India. They have opened the system with budget hotels available in smaller cities but it doesnt look like they will be a big hit in indian market they will be powering inventory other way around to global network bringing in more hotels other than one aggregated by GDS like amadeus,abacus or galileo.

Though travelocity’s entry is being welcomed by travel agents more than the customers as hotel inventory which was hidden behind the mystical world of GDS will really open up and travel agents will get access to small budget hotels in international locations. Currently none of the major travel portals in india offer international hotel reservation which is also looked upon as a constraint keeping in mind the big spenders who are really using internet to plan their holidays abroad are not able to get right price pictures from the travel 2.0 INDIA.

Commercially speaking the travel portals might be doing 500 crores of business but with 80% of business being dependent on air the operating margin tilt is surely not in their favor at the moment. The numbers quoted by business standard article linked also gives the total travel e-commerce volume which in india mainly means online Online Flight reservations.

If you look from travelocity’s perspective commercially its not a wrong bet as end of the day inventory consolidated can always be marketed on their international network if INDIA game doesnt really work out.

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January 2020
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