Startup pitch: TripsIdea wants to be the last-minute trip planning tool

TripsIdea is positioning itself as a last-minute travel planning site that users can rely on. It claims a trip can be planned on its site in just ten minute and still saving money.

Once a user selects a destination, the site displays all things to do in the destination, along with hotels, deals and national parks.

The US-based startup has partnered with daily deals sites Groupon and LivingSocial to display travel deals at user selected destinations.

Users can browse through the tours and activities listed (with details such as price, timing, address, Google reviews), add products to the trip itinerary and finally let the system create an itinerary based on its proprietary algorithm.

TripsIdea was launched in 2013 and continues to be a bootstrapped company.

The startup claims companies such as TripAdvisor, MyGola, Desti, Gogobot and Peek as its competitors.

Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan tells Tnooz how TripsIdea was launched:

“TripsIdea happened over a casual chat. Who wouldn’t want to escape for a getaway in between those hectic schedules and meeting deadlines, to rejuvenate themselves?

“But traveling involves planning and everyone hates doing it. Our mission was to satisfy every user by empowering them to plan their trip in less than 10 minutes. We took a unique approach for solving user’s problem to plan a trip using ratings, tags, price, and user interests.”

tripsidea 1 tnooz tlabs

Q&A with Ayyappan below:

Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?

We are a team of three with a combined experience of 32 years. Having worked for fortune 100 companies, we have the expertise to deal with big data, complex algorithms and different types of frameworks.

One thing that connects us is the wanderlust. We are travel fanatics, and while planning one such trip, the idea of TripsIdea struck us.

  • Sunil Ayyappan – Co-founder. Mainly involved in design, architecture, and front-end development.
  • Jitendra Agarwal – Co-founder. Involved in design, architecture, and back-end development.
  • Nitin Moriwal – Co-founder. Involved in design and back-end development.

Estimation of market size?

Travel is a trillion dollar industry. There are many services in the last-minute hotel reservation, last-minute vacation rental booking and last-minute flights reservation sector, but there aren’t many intelligent last-minute trip planner app.

Our estimate ranges from a million to a billion users, but how we bring in this huge user base entirely depends on how users are benefiting from our app.

Revenue model and strategy for profitability?

Our revenue model is twofold. We have already integrated Groupon and LivingSocial and will be integrating TravelZoo, Amazon Local and few others.

Our second revenue generation channel is our own marketplace that will have unique travel deals. We wouldn’t want to reveal more on this.

What problem does the business solve?

On average, a person can afford to go for at least 25 trips a year, but, in reality a person only takes four or five trips a year. This is mainly because of the complications involved in planning a trip.

By using our app, a person can plan a range of trips – be it a short weekend trip or a dream vacation. TripsIdea’s highlights are:

  • A one-stop shop for planning your trip including things-to-do, restaurants, nightlife and even hotels.
  • An organized itinerary based on the geo-location, hours spent on each attraction, and various other factors.
  • Less money spent on each trip by buying travel deals from popular sites. In other words – travel deals’ aggregator.
  • A personalized feed for users based on their interests that will help them with planning a weekend trip.

The itinerary that comes out of our app is efficiently organized.

Our recommendations for restaurants and nightlife are entirely based on the “interest” categories selected by users. There are many travel deals in the marketm our app provides a common platform for users to view all deals from different vendors during their planning stage.

How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?

The idea evolved due to the lack of a smart travel planner. We have certainly evolved both in technology and implementation, we will continue to evolve going forward.

But, we have realized that there are competitors and we need to make sure that we have a niche over them. At the same time, we want to find all possible ways to make our app more user friendly. For example, we have integrated with popular API’s to bring in more valuable information for users to finalize an attraction.

Why should people or companies use the business?

  • Users – can spend less money, less time in planning but travel more. They can also create a bucket list and get alerts related to it.
  • Businesses – it is a unique way to sell your product or service (this feature is coming soon)

What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?

  • We are in talks with almost all influential travel bloggers to try our product which will help us in building traction. So far we have been getting a great response.
  • Participating in various high-profile technology meets and various other travel community meetups.
  • We are also doing a few focused social media campaigns to increase traction.

Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?

We have set small goals:

  1. We will be launching our mobile app around mid-May, this will allow users to plan their trip on the go.
  2. Our immediate goal is to build more traction around the product.
  3. Build our own marketplace and bring on-board quality vendors to provide more travel deals.
  4. Expand our coverage to the whole of North America, India and European countries.

What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another start-up to help it out?

Given the size of the industry, we have seen very little innovation and disruptive startup ideas in travel.

There are three type of travel sites in the industry – ones that are solely based on reviews, the second kind sells pre-planned itinerary and then there is the third kind that asks users to email their tickets and then build a customized itinerary based on that.

The core component of a trip are: the activities that users will do in a destination and the place of stay. We have addressed this core requirement in an effective way. We encourage users to build their own itinerary, but at the same time we have presented the information in such a way that anybody can easily plan a trip even at the last minute.

What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?

Facebook and Twitter. Similar to these companies, we want to focus majorly on building the user base. We would like to keep our app free for the users always. Once we build the user base, we can focus more on the revenue.

Tnooz view

While travel companies are trying to personalize the trip planning process, bring Big Data into the mix, offer a stunning look and feel, TripsIdea has taken the approach of offering deals in the trip planning process.

Currently, once a user selects the list of tours and activities, hotels and national parks at a destination, the only bookable product are the deals sourced from Groupon and LivingSocial. This complements its claim as a ‘last-minute trip planning’ service.

Barring the minor glitches, the startup has an easy-to-use interface, especially the products in the ‘Things to do’ section which sorts like a pack of cards.

But, considering the fact that other similar companies have now started offering the entire trip as bookable (after the detailed planning process) product, TripsIdea has a long way to catch-up.

It will be interesting to see the deal-marketplace feature it is working on. When that happens, will TripsIdea be seen as a travel planning skin on top of TravelZoo? We’ll have to wait and see.

Apart from the competitor sites that TripsIdea has listed above, the online travel agents also seem to be competitors because of the increase in non-booking products these companies are rolling out.

In the Indian travel context (where TripsIdea wants to expand next), MakeMyTrip recently rolled out a social trip management service TripAlong, and a multi-modal route search service RoutePlanner. Cleartrip launched WayToGo, a multi-modal search inspired travel planning platform. Ixigo, the travel search service launched On The Way, a mobile app that allows road travelers to access various point of interests on a particular journey and is hoping to tap into the growing  number weekend trippers.

Related read on this topic of trip planning include these two articles that have contrasting viewpoint (do not miss the comment section in both):

Vine video about TripsIdea

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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