Be it the flamboyant nightlife at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, LA or a peaceful evening at Maria Luisa Park, Spain, your choices for exotic locations vary with the taste you develop over time. What if you get to connect with people who share your likings? What if you can connect with travellers from across the world, list your favourite destinations, share photos of your experiences, make recommendations, get advice from experts and also search profiles of local travel businesses for what they have on offer?
“Travelers have a very hard time booking services like tours and vacation packages online and in fact over 65% of these services are still booked on the telephone. This untapped market is just waiting for the right marketing platform to emerge,” says Dr. David Urmann, the Founder and CEO, Touristlink.
Dr. David Urmann and Jayesh Bagde are the founders of the company. David, with his global perspective and scientific background and Jayesh, with his 9 years of experience in advertising & IT, make a perfect pair to take Touristlink to new heights. Apart from David and Jayesh, the team consists of 50 programmers, content writers, designers, marketing and customer service executives.
Touristlink, a social platform, drives transactional trust between travellers and travel businesses by letting members post reviews, by individual vetting of businesses and by having businesses directly show contact details. Touristlink lists attractions based on their members’ rankings. As membership increases this will be a significant value add and users will be able to sort attractions based on interests or demographics. “For instance, Touristlink members will be able to see how members who surf rank beaches in Bali, how birdwatchers rank wildlife sanctuaries in India or even which restaurants women prefer in Paris,” says David.
Touristlink offers two distribution paths for travel business to sell services. The first path is via group deals, which naturally lend themselves to social networking. Every group deal on Touristlink is set up to function as a mini-social circle where members can connect, share tips and plan activities both before and after the trip. The second distribution path is a request offer system where members can request any service they need whether it is a "Taxi Pickup from the Airport" or a "Guided trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro." Once a request is made, it goes out to the growing network of travel agents and guides who can then make offers. Travel providers, upon receiving the request, can review the social profile of the member and make offers targeted directly to the tastes and preferences of the member.
Still in public beta, these distribution channels have shown viable results and are generating significant traction: 6000 users have signed up since Jan’12. “So far, group deals appear to be the more successful of the two avenues. These group deals are a unique feature over the individual-focus of deals from popular sites like makemytrip and snapdeal. These deals have also resulted in direct revenue for Touristlink,“ says Jayesh.
They have managed to achieve an inflow of 300 customers in just 2 months from the sale of domestic deals. In the near future, they plan to look at various monetizing options:
Touristlink is one of the 5 startups of Indian origin to have been selected for the Startup Chile Program. Headquartered in Nagpur right now, the Touristlink team believes that the Startup Chile experience will help them gain exposure and take Touristlink to the next level.
- Shyamal Dave and Meghna Chhabria