Posts Tagged 'Travel India'

Farecast – Lesson in store for Travel Meta Search Engines in India

Farecast an online airline and hotel fare prediction site has been brought over by Microsoft for 115 Million dollars.  The site one of its own kind offers not only price ranged based search and route connections offering cheapest flying alternatives but takes it to next level by predicting fares of airlines and giving opportunity for people to lock fares for a price.

Near shore in India our home grown Meta search engines look Zoomtra and Ixigo still try to evolve into advertisement driven platform. Biggest problem meta search engines face in India is low rate of adoption of their model by airlines. Airlines dont want to buy traffic or pay per lead. They are ready to share the commissions if you are ready to take responsibility of finalization on your own platform. This is the reason these travel meta search engines fight for space with OTA’s like makemytrip.com, yatra.com, travelocity.com

So how can travel meta search engines survive if they wont get support from airlines? Answer for this would lay with using synergies or competition provided on offers by OTA’s to route traffic to them instead of airlines. Though in short term it will lead to reduction of repeat users but then these meta search engine sites need to evolve with better differentiator tools like a fare prediction algorithm or reverse auction of customer leads to airlines. Idea is to innovate on based of data generated on user pattern instead of relying on advertising or per user lead.

Zoomtra.com first one to join Facebook bandwagon from India

In my earlier posts i had talked about importance of social networking for meta search engines and sites looking for user generated content. Zoomtra.com – A Meta Travel Search engine has gone ahead and released an application on facebook which focuses on Indian destinations.

Application is called India Dekho helps user tag different cities in india where they have been and write reviews and rate them for other people planning trip to india. The best thing which i liked about the application was ability to add review for individual restaurants,night spots and shopping places from the city.

Although lot people will talk about initial applications which were released by trip planner etc had similar features but i liked the review of night spots and restaurants concept which others were doing only for US specific destinations.

Though every human creation has flaws so does zoomtra’s facebook application with ability not provided to add just reviews on restaurants or shopping sites later after adding a city review. Other thing which i would have liked would be if they could group all restaurants,night spots in a city in a drop down with ability to see all users rating for all places in a city at one place. Also giving it a little structure would help.

Overall a nice effort as it will help in generating lot of user generated content which will help in increasing more user traction as way forward for meta travel search engine is content aggregation.

I might be wrong on stating they are first facebook application but its the first one i stumbled upon facebook.

Travelogues in India – Oktatabyebye.com vs Holidayiq.com vs raahi.com

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.

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

Below is an email interview we did with Amit Kumar from Idiscoverindia.com  – 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 idiscoverindia.com 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 IdiscoverIndia.com 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 IDiscoverIndia.com 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 holidayiq.com

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 ixigo.com or zoomtra.com

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 idiscoverindia.com in future.

In IdiscoverIndia.com 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.


Contact Details

E-mail:siddharthpuri@gmail.com Call Me :+91-9910444460
April 2017
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