While the country is facing an economic slowdown, India’s travel and tourism industry is showing hardly any signs of retreat. The market is set to touch a staggering $9 billion market size by 2025, bolstered by an influx of new-age travel startups, and changing trends driven by millennial and Gen Z travellers, according to MICE India and Luxury Travel Congress.
But what exactly is driving this industry and its evolution? The answer lies in the metrics related to the economics of this industry, and the arrival of new-age travellers. These individuals are mostly in their 20’s and 30’s, who favour personalised, curated experiences over checklist tourism.
“Millennials are averse to pre-made packages and expect to wield control over their itinerary. Preferring to invest in ample research before planning ahead, young travellers like to make an informed decision by comparing hotel and flight tariffs online,” Rahul Singh, CEO and Co-founder of Ithaka tells YourStory. The startup is a community-driven travel planning and social commerce platform backed by Thomas Cook India.
“On the Ithaka app, a traveller connects to a matching traveller (we call them influencers) over a chat conversation. The influencer helps the traveller discover the country, decide where they would like to go, things they would like to do…,” he adds.
With these factors in mind, it’s not much of a surprise that the Indian travel industry is flying high, rife with opportunities for new entrants, and more technological disruption. Here’s a look at five such new-age startups who are carving a niche for themselves, while shaking up India’s billion-dollar travel and tourism industry.
As alluring as the idea of disconnecting from work and a complete online detox sounds, it is but a luxury for the new-age entrepreneurs and executives. For these individuals, work slips into the personal space, and work hours tend to get extended beyond the regular nine to five jobs.
This situation is not unknown to 32-year-old Vandita Purohit, Founder of Pune-based travel startup TraWork. Being an entrepreneur herself, she toyed with the idea of blending work and travel and launched her unique travel startup in May 2018.
So far, TraWork has conducted two international trips for its customers, and several other international and domestic trips are in the pipeline, for this year.
The startup’s concept is simple – travel as you work, work while you travel.
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When it comes to travelling, the “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t really work. At least not in the current scenario, where people are looking for more personalised experiences. Mumbai-based Taxidio (which means ‘travel’ in Greek) aims to plug this very gap. The startup was founded by two travel enthusiasts Vishal Kejariwal (35) and Abhas Desai (36).
The online DIY (Do-it-Yourself) trip planner lets users enter a few basic details about their travel style and preferences, and in return, Taxidio generates a list of destinations that matches their preferences.
The startup also provides users with 19 interest parameters, based on which it offers choices, including recommendations on attractions and activities to indulge in during the trip.
The startup also has an affiliated partnership for hotel and attraction booking with Booking.com and GetYourGuide.com.
The Unhotel Co
Travellers these days are not just interested in a tailor-made vacation, but they also want to include local nuances to their getaways. Committed to satisfying this wanderlust, husband-wife duo, Manish Sinha and Shilpi Singh launched The Unhotel Co in 2016.
The travel startup offers offbeat accommodation, uncommon trips and treks, and immersive events to the premium domestic customer and a new generation of global travellers.
“In a world of cookie-cutter hotel experiences, we wanted to celebrate the uncommon and the offbeat,” Manish says, adding, “We go beyond the destination and the itinerary, we focus on the authentic story of the place, people, monuments, culture, and food.”
The startup provides a vast array of offbeat adventures through its startup. If the founders are to be believed, these adventures include renting an island, stalking endangered birds in the Northeast, home-in-a-village vacations and mindfulness journeys.
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From healthcare to education, every market segment is witnessing the impacts of technological disruption. Then why not the travel and tourism sector, which is plagued by the ghosts of budgeting and time constraints?
Varun Gupta’s venture, MeTripping follows this philosophy. The Bengaluru-based travel startup uses artificial intelligence (AI) search engine, to provide recommendations for each user’s needs on where to go, how to get there, where to stay, and what to do.
MeTripping also boasts a team of 10 members comprising technologists and data scientists, who help consumers in making the best travel decisions by scanning billions of data points.
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What happens when five friends, passionate about travelling and entrepreneurship in equal measures, come together to start something new? The result is a one-of-its-kind venture that turns your regular vacations into a memorable one.
Moonstone Hammock, a bespoke travel camping startup, was founded by Pratik Jain, Rohit Dube, Abhishek Dabholkar, Megh Doshi, and Pradeep Singh Chowdhury, in January 2016.
The idea was to bring together various activities and experiences like kayaking, barbecues in the open, movie screenings under the stars, bonfires, and live Bollywood music under one-roof, while allowing vacationers the rustic pleasures of camping.
“In short, there is something for everyone,” the founding team says, dishing on their biggest highlight, the glamping tents (bell-shaped canvas tents with luxurious amenities) and the floating tents.
(Edited by Suman Singh)