Digital advancements come as a great opportunity for startups to innovate and shape experiences. From new-age travellers to corporate clients, there are several opportunities that are ripe for disruptive solutions, say young startup founders. The landscape is changing dynamically, and it’s a great time for the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive.
The beginning of 2023 was not easy for startups across the country. While the flow of capital in the startup ecosystem was lower across a few industries like edtech and ecommerce, travel as a sector has displayed remarkable growth and reliance. Clearly, the surge in travel is not just revenge travel; it is now part of the people’s lifestyle, as disposable incomes continue to rise.
Sanjay Ghare, Founder & MD, Vervotech, which was acquired by Juniper Group this year, says, “We are seeing two big changes after the pandemic. First, people are travelling more than ever, but they are also watching their wallets. Many now prefer tickets with no cancellation fees. Second, technology in travel is changing. For example, blockchain-based startups are getting attention. They use tokens for bookings. If someone cancels, the system quickly gives a full refund using these tokens, and the booking goes to someone else. It’s like a smooth handover. This is a smart way tech is adapting to how people travel now.” Juniper is focused on acquiring, managing, and building businesses.
What kind of ideas work?
Focusing on specific travel segments seems to be the winning strategy, believes Ghare. Unlike broad platforms like MakeMyTrip, which cater to everyone with general offerings, startups that target niche markets are thriving. “For example, companies like PickYourTrail, specialising in luxury travel, are gaining significant success. The key is understanding and meeting the unique needs of specific segments, rather than trying to appeal to everyone with one-size-fits-all products. Now is the time to jump in and boost your travel business. Seize this opportunity with both hands. But, while you are at it, pay close attention to keeping your costs in check. Choosing the right technology is crucial for that. It’s all about making the most of the travel boom while being smart about how you operate,” Ghare adds.
Add value, that is all
Despite long-standing presence and constant evolution of the travel and tourism industries, the answer to what works is fairly simple, says Arun Bagaria, Co-Founder & CEO, TravClan. Travellers want 100 per cent on ground support during their travel experiences. If as a business you are able to add value to the experience of the customer, you have a robust and sustainable business model, he says.
“As a B2B travel provider, our responsibilities extend beyond the travel agents, we ensure our agents’ end customer is having a hassle-free and quality experience and thus getting more than what they paid for. We solve for and ensure standardized quality of service by setting upon ground teams and direct partnerships with various hospitality partners. We can control and improve experiences in real time. Another pain point across the industry that we have identified over the years is the need for personalization. The one-size-fits-all approach has never worked in the tourism industry. Offering customizations and simplifying the booking process can dynamically change how one can position themselves in the market. There have been rapid advancements in technology with the advent of AI and progression of LLM models. However, the successful adoption of such technologies and the customers’ trust on AI to plan their trips is yet to be seen,” Bagaria adds.
While this opportunity to create seamless booking experiences looks promising, he believes that large moats in travel exist, where businesses can stand out by establishing better on ground control. Travel is an evergreen sector, and we are at an inflection point of demand, Bagaria believes.