Travel as a sector for startups is looking rather curious at this moment. After a kind of a lull, we’ve seen a bunch of entrepreneurs coming up with startups across the travel spectrum- trip planning to transactions to travel information. Looking at the trip planning space, Holidayen is a startup that believes to have identified a gap within this subset.
“There are numerous good sites for booking flights and hotels, but a definite lack of resources for choosing other aspects of a trip itinerary like attractions, activities, etc.,” thought Tarun Madan while planning his Thailand trip. Currently a student at the University of Texas at Austin, taking a course in entrepreneurship, Tarun validated his idea by a market research. Tarun worked for the BG group before moving onto UT Austin and for Holidayen, he has got together with Mitanshu Gaarg and Tarun Kalra. Mitanshu is a globetrotter with 7+ years of development experience (has launched the app SCM Buddy) while Tarun runs a web design house.
What’s the big idea?
Holidayen basically allows you to pick and choose all the places you should visit while you’re going to a destination. For instance, you’re going to London. Holidayen asks you to choose the dates you’re traveling, how you’re traveling (family, spouse, solo, etc.), and looking into these, it throws out a map with destinations to visit marked on it.
The map has a legend with places categorized under neighbourhoods, landmarks, parks and such. The visibility of the number of places under each category is modulated by the bars on the left. This is initially set according to your travel preference. If you’re traveling solo, you won’t be shown kids places.
Below it is a Pinterest style list of the sight seeing places, activities and hotels (where hotels can be booked).
The idea is good and I’d certainly like a website which would tell me about such places but on the execution front, Holidayen is found wanting. Still initial days, 15 international destinations are listed on the site. Maybe giving the user an option to search for his or destination isn’t such a good idea at this stage.
Also, the site isn’t idiot proof. As a first time user, it’s hard to make out that the bars on the left are adjustable, a quick tour is a must-have in this case. In terms of UI as well, a more polished look will do the site a lot of good.
Holidayen has partnered with Expedia for hotel bookings. To open up more revenue streams, they plan to offer bookings of sights and activities as well going forward. A keen eye for curation and the ability to scale up to more destinations is going to be the key for Holidayen.
The vision is “to help people have awesome holidays full of excitement and discovery, creating cherished memories which will always stay with them” but as a business one wonders if this is better as a part of a bigger play.
An interesting idea in the travel space, the traction they gain in the coming days will be indicative of need for such a product.