How does the travel space for a startup look like? The Funnel
Travel is something very closely meshed in the lives of humans. And as civilization develops, newer modes of transport and ways in which people travel has fostered an entire ecosystem around travel. There have always been products and services that help people plan, arrange and materialize their trips and this industry is only getting more organized and creative now. Immersive new ways about how people travel are coming into existence and here I got a chance to chart out the entire travel space with Aloke Bajpai, the co-founder of iXiGO.com.
iXiGO is a 7 year old online travel search engine that has seen huge growth over the years and boasts of a million+ unique visitors a month (see their tumultuous funding journey). iXiGO is in the area before a traveler transacts and helps him or her discover all the option. Here is how the entire space looks like:
Bucket 1: Inspiration is the trigger
A person decides to travel primarily when s/he is inspired. Be it on vacation or for some other purpose, there is a reason which triggers the need to travel. Dealing with the online space and staying relevant, we’ll mainly be talking about travelers going out for vacations. And hence inspiration becomes a huge chunk. There is almost an infinite resource of inspiration for travel on the web. Personal blogs, travelogues, travel sites, ‘best places to visit’ lists and more are things that inspire a person to travel. From a startups perspective, this is where a media site for content can be developed which writes about how and why people should travel. There can be multiple ways of triggering this within a reader but monetizing models aren’t evolved for such startups. Apart from ads, in the long run, making someone pay for getting inspired which will make them spend more (travel) is the challenge that startups here will take up.
Bucket 2: Research
Once a person is inspired, he’ll start looking around about the places he wants to go to and basically get a sense of the options available. This step overlaps with inspiration in a way and is a good extension for anyone dealing with only the inspiration space.
Bucket 3: Plan
Now we enter the zone when the traveler becomes serious about the plans and from a startups' perspective, the time when one can really start thinking about the financial aspects (earning from the user). iXiGO is one of the big players in the metasearch area and it also extends to the above two steps as it has a strong content game. A metasearch engine is a search engine where different OTA’s (Online Travel Agent) can be compared. Their revenue comes from the fee the OTA’s on which the booking is eventually made is paying to the metasearcher (read more). Metasearch is growing by leaps and as more and more people decide to travel and plan for the same via the net, this step is a booming ground for startups (list of travel planning startups from India).
Bucket 4: Transact
This is where the user actually pays and confirms the trip. All the OTA’s (Online travel agents) operate here and MakeMyTrip takes the undisputed number one spot here. Transaction space is a tough nut to crack purely owing to the amount of effort and bandwidth required to deal with all the regulations and finances.
Bucket 5: In Destination
Once the transaction is made, the traveler reaches a destination and then there are opportunities to keep him or her engaged there. There are multiple possibilities involving places to visit at a destination, best places to eat and all such location based services. (E.g. ingoa, Tushky, Poshvine) his area Is rather virgin and can have strong cases of monetization.
Bucket 6/Bucket 1: Blogging/ Inspiring
Once a trip ends, the whole process loops into itself as people blog about their experiences, share information, gets picked up and inspires other people to travel.
This is how the travel space is laid out and the biggest buckets are companies dealing in the first three overlapping buckets and other is the transactions bucket.
Where have you positioned yourself?