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The journey from startup to success in the tourism industry

Sanchit Khera
posted on 4th July 2017
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The travel and tourism startup space has been abuzz over the last week with over 75% growth and $85 million in venture capital funding. This sudden flow in funds have provided a shot in the arm to industries including financial technology, food, logistics, education and travel. This massive growth stemmed primarily due to the large interest being generated in this field. With the radical rise of AirBnB, Oyo (raising 250$M last month) and RedBus, travel and tourism sector has seen a tremendous growth in a short span because of economies of scale.

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

Quite recently, travel startup “TravelSpice” raised a fairly large and undisclosed seed round from Eagle10 ventures. One of the key areas of their spending will come in the form of marketing -

“Two-thirds of the fund will be deployed for marketing and the rest will go towards product development,” Ramu Kallepalli, co-founder of TraveSpice, told VCCircle.

“The tourism market in India is set to grow exponentially and we feel TravelSpice through their opaque platform has the potential to capture a good chunk of this market,” said Pramod Dsouza, co-founder of Eagle10 Ventures.

This isn’t fairly unique in the tourism and travel startup space. Travel startups have long been spending massive budgets on marketing and focusing on branding and customer service as their second and third tier of focus.

If you look at some of the key highlights from the research firm Octane India, it establishes the relationship between the travel space and marketing

tourism industry

tourism industry

As we can see, the travel industry has considerable “intent”  which is driven by online and organic marketing, with a mix of advertising push to capture the audience’s attention. The user's  journey successfully culminates into a “sale” only when there is a 360 approach to marketing and branding, and the customer is fully satisfied with the level of research and materials available to them.

The strategy of roping in customers by offering deals and discounts is a hare-brained approach, and the wrong approach to the game of marketing. The very idea that they assume that these customers are sticky is incorrect. For a truly fulfilling marketing experience, startups should focus on branding and partnerships instead. For example Airbnb’s partnership with Thomas Cook. Instead of blasting the internet with online ads offering cheap rates, here’s what Amanpreet Bajaj, country head Airbnb focused on instead

“Travelers are now interested in more authentic experiences. At the end of the day, we want Airbnb to be in the consideration set of more and more people that are planning to travel. We want people to understand the unique locations they can stay using our platform. The main aim of the partnership last year with Thomas Cook was to address the fact that people were still approaching travel agents to have everything booked under one roof. Apart from the accommodation, they want the forex, air bookings, on-location travel arrangements — all to be handled under one umbrella.

Increasingly, many people are coming on to the app by themselves. Booking a property on Airbnb is an experience in itself.”

By building a brand first and then extending itself through marketing, Airbnb did the right thing in the travel space.

An innovative startup called Beyond Travel curates travel experiences for customers. By not following the crowd, they focus more on the differentiation of curation. Along with testimonials and beautiful images, the user journey is a masterpiece when it comes to being excited about planning the trip.

Travel startup adventures365.in also provides a similar appeal, where their website takes care of your travel curiosity. Covered extensively across media outlets, its uniqueness is its success factor. The edge of marketing revolves around being unique and ensuring the user journey is pristine.

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