TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring India-based TravelTriangle, a platform to give travellers the chance to find the best individual quotes from travel agencies.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
TravelTriangle is a platform which brings together agents with best deals as per the customers travel needs. When a traveler submits his trip request, he gets four to five competing quotes from best travel agents for his requirements.
This facilitates the traveler to compare and choose the best deal without any hassles. Without TravelTriangle, the traveller has to call each agent individually and negotiate, and then decide upon one without knowing the reason for his quote. Later, the user may discover a better deal. This wouldn’t happen with TravelTriangle.
The other unique proposition is that only those travel agents who operate from traveler’s destination are able to provide quote on traveler’s request. This allows traveler to get expert guidance and customization based on his personal preferences. Who would know a destination better than agent local to the destination!
We also provide ‘agent reliability guarantee’ so that traveler’s purchases on the platform are safe. Further it is all free for travelers!
Sankalp Agrawal (26), my school friend, and I, Sanchit Garg (26), started traveltriangle.com after quitting jobs in the middle of 2010. Prior to this Sankalp worked at Adobe for two years and I worked at Yahoo! for the same period.
Both of us are Computer Science graduates, Sankalp from IIT Kharagpur, 2008 batch and myself from IIT Bombay 2008 batch.
Our team includes two of our friends Prabhat Gupta (IIT Guwahati) and Amit Mehrotra (CS Dept., Pune University) as core development members. With the kind of chemistry we share, the mood is high at TravelTriangle and we’re aiming to revolutionize the way people decide about their travel trips.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We started with our savings from our previous jobs. We soon exhausted that and started doing technical consulting by doing web development for various clients.
Traditionally, a technical startup does not need a lot of investments. All we needed is an office with a small team and a few laptops.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We are helping travelers to create their holiday packages customized to their personal needs and with the help of experts of the destination to where they are going.
We do so by connecting them to two or three trusted travel agents local to their destination.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Product – Online marketplace for travelers and trusted travel agents. We book the end to end holiday package which typically includes flights, hotels, cabs, meals along with itinerary and personal assistance.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our key customers are people who read lonely-planet and then figure out how to convert it into their bookings. We got 30% international and remaining Indian nationals as our customers when we boot strapped.
Those who are looking for customizations with trusted travel agents are all our customers.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we have received great feedback from our customers. They got a good deals and lifetime memories with trusted agents who provided them great services when they reached out to their destination.
Booking on our platform is a piece of cake with the 100% reliability guarantee that we offer.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our services are free for travelers. They get quotes from multiple agents and we charge a commission on every transaction from travel agents.
Right now agents provide hefty commissions to B2B agents who bring them customers. We are trying to structure this process and bring down commissions by connecting travelers directly to tour providers.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Team – Promoters are all CS graduates from IITs in India. They have a solid experience in building ecommerce platform from their previous jobs in Yahoo! Advertisement and Oracle businesses. Advisor is a Harvard Business School graduate and has an expertise in scaling up start-ups.
- Expansion funds – This model will take time to reach an optimum and efficient state before we can scale. Till then it will be difficult to raise funds from the investor community and hence we have to choosy in our spending and hiring. This gives us a more stable growth but at the cost of the pace.
- Geography – In India and SE Asia, booking a tour package is still very unstructured and the process has a lot of inefficiencies. We are trying to solve the same – opaque prices, trust issues and customizations. Further we are sitting right in the middle of the Indian travel industry, which is growing at a rate of 34% per annum with high internet and online payment penetration. This creates a lot of opportunity for us.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Customer acquisition – This will be the toughest battle for us going ahead as travel is the most competitive space on web. For that we are relying more on social media and word of mouth than anything else. Even though our model is not of a travel agent, but we still fight for customers in the same space.
Our model connects travelers and end travel agents directly and hence disrupting the current supply chain of holiday packages.
Even though our agents and travelers give us a big thumbs up, we often get hard front from investor community. Mostly they understand that we have a value add for travelers but they often talk about scalability at a large scale.
We will never know unless we try it out, right now our revenues are good and we have awesome stories from our travelers.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
- More oriented towards developing a more scalable and more automated platform
- Transactions of worth 5.5 crores INR (1.2 million USD)
- Expansion over Asia, Europe, Africa tourist destinations with trusted affiliated partners from each of these destinations
- Serving approximately 1,200 travelers mostly from India, SE Asia, Europe and USA
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.