TravTalk - India

Digital aid key to success of startups

- Hazel Jain

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-sizefits-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

Clearly, the surge in travel at the moment is not just revenge travel; it is now part of the people’s lifestyle, as disposable incomes continue to rise

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.

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 ?? ?? Arun Bagaria Co-Founder & CEO TravClan
Arun Bagaria Co-Founder & CEO TravClan
 ?? ?? Sanjay Ghare Founder & MD Vervotech
Sanjay Ghare Founder & MD Vervotech
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