Just when the tour and travel segment was getting a little crowded with innumerable startups, leaving little room for new ideas, Animesh Singh and Anupam Pathak managed to find uniqueness in their product and launched an online marketplace for specialty tours.
Founded in April this year, WeNomads.com offers purposeful and experience-driven trips to its consumers. Such tours include road trips, trekking, wellness tours, photography tours and even religious tours.
“We started on the premise that vacation has to provide some unique experience to travellers. This experience can be offered by purposeful trips. As long as tours or trips have a specific purpose, they get categorised under specialty trips and this platform is home to many such trips,” says Animesh, CEO and Cofounder, WeNomads.com.
He adds that every trip on this platform is vetted for its uniqueness quotient and only then listed on the website.
Filling gaps in the space
Avid travellers themselves, Animesh and Anupam found the idea from their own journeys. They realised there was lack of experience-based travel options in the tour and travel segment and understood that the industry was highly unorganised.
Animesh says that people who seek different and fulfilling journeys have a hard time making decisions because of multiple reasons. Specialty trip operators that provide experience-based journeys are rare and hard to find. There are some who execute trips and provide unique experience to travellers, but their websites, which act as their main promotional platform hardly do any justice to the exceptional work they do. Owing to the lack of technological expertise, they’re unable to showcase the fantastic trips they organise and lose out on converting leads.
“Buying from specialty tour operators is never a great experience for many reasons. They do not have integrated payment gateways and many of them still rely on the age-old payment methods . They ask for cheques or drafts or money transfer to their personal account, which tends to chase potential customers away. Because of many such factors, people don’t trust specialty tour operators and hesitate to touch base with them,” says Animesh.
Coming from IT backgrounds, the cofounders realised that technology can revolutionise this sector. They have introduced various features on their platform that will potentially help solve the problems facing the sector.
Growth in first quarter
Starting the website with an initial investment of Rs 1 crore, the founders have seen a growth of 25 per cent month-on-month and claim to clock Rs 20 lakh of transactional revenue.
In the first month, functioning with four tour operators, the company organised 15 trips. In the first quarter, with 35 tour operators, 100 trips have been organised through the website.
By the end of the year, the cofounders expect to be working with over 500 tour operators, generating transactional revenue of Rs 1.3 crore.
From raising funding and upgrading the platform to generating revenues, the venture has planned a detail structure for the future.
In the next few days, the venture will be going for a round of angel funding. It’s in touch with many investors, looking for fund for product development and brand establishment.
Currently, the website is working on ERP system to facilitate the flow of information so that business decisions can be data driven. With this system, tour operators can plan a trip on the platform. Besides, it is also looking to start affiliate marketing.
Animesh believes that to achieve the target in the segment, he has to make people aware of this platform, which proves to be a big challenge. “The main challenge in the segment is related to market maturity.”
What’s going on in travel industry?
The leisure travel market in India is about USD 80 billion annually and is set to grow to USD 150 billion by 2024.
Last year, the travel segment raised around USD 115 million by venture capital and private equity funds. According to experts, the number is set to grow in coming years.
Last month, Bengaluru-based TripFactory.com raised its Series A funding round led by Mohandas and Dr Ranjan Pai’s Aarin Capital Partners.
In April this year, Delhi-based travel marketplace Travel Triangle raised USD eight million in Series B funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from existing investor SAIF Partners.
In March, Delhi-based Tripoto raised pre Series A round of funding from IDG Ventures India and existing investor Outbox Ventures.
In the tour and travel segment, each startup claims to be unique and has been able to acquire loyal consumers based on the structure it offers.
Leisure travel, customised holiday, hostel facilities for backpackers, specialty tours and many other eclectic mix of choices and facilities offered by travel startups have made this segment more vibrant. In this space, startups are vying with each other to get greater mileage and capture more consumers. The segment is evolving for quite some time; and every time it looks to be reaching the saturation point, the sector offers something new and astonishes both the market and the expert.
- Saif Partners
- travel startups
- bessemer venture partners
- Venture capital
- travel industry
- Ranjan Pai
- IDG Ventures India
- Outbox Ventures
- travel segment
- Anupam Pathak
- Animesh Singh
- leisure travel market
- Leisure travel