5 years ago

Travel startups in Russia: From apps to social travel and a dash of marketplaces

NB: This is a guest article by Valentin Dombrovsky, CEO of Travelatus.

Online travel is experiencing phenomenal growth in Russia with startups emerging thick and fast and a number of funding rounds revealed recently making it an exciting space.

The sector was a hot topic at a recent conference in Moscow and here’s a run-down of some of the newbies out there.


Allinway helps people to plan their trip, share their stories and find new itineraries. A user’s itinerary can be saved as a PDF and downloaded to a mobile phone via a mobile application. Allinway can be used to create and share travel stories, for example, through integration with Instagram.

You can find itineraries that were shared by other users too. The creators of the service plan to earn money through affiliate programs, advertising and premium services for users (they didn’t give exact examples of such services). They mentioned Travelmuse, Stay.com, Trippy and Tripomatic as their main competitors.

App in the Air

App in the Air is a free mobile app to help travellers during his preparations for the journey and on the way. It provides useful tips for travellers – like places where he can eat at the airport or information on places where he can connect to wifi. The app shows the status of your journey (for example, how much time is left till landing). It also provides notifications such as boarding gate change, for example.

The service can be used to get information about destinations – for example, you can find out what is the best way to get from the airport to downtown.

The creators plan to earn money through special deals and offers (and have already partnered with Expedia and Hotwire).


Trego.Travel is a social travel planning service, or social travel discovery platform, as it’s called by its creators. Its founders’ vision is on online travel hub where people can get the ideas for their trip, plan their journey and get a full range of services for it.

The service is based on the visual components, concept of smart content, social integration and services from dozens of service providers. So the creators of the service plan to make it the starting point of every independent trip. The revenue model for Trego.Travel is commission based.


Travolver wants to change the way people plan their leisure travel. The startup wants to turn travel planning from searching for destinations to searching for local experiences that will best fit the user. Experiences can be found on the map, so the user can easily browse through them. It also plans to provide standard travel services as hotel booking, air tickets and car rental.

The whole trip is presented in the form of a storyline that can be changed with the participation of friends who join the user on his trip. The service also has the ability to connect the user with locals who can provide additional services regarding the chosen experiences.

Travolver has also announced the launch of a mobile app with local experiences recommendations.


Excursiopedia is a marketplace for guides and local activities. It tries to solve the problem of connecting with thousands of local service providers. The local activities provider lists his inventory on the site and clients can communicate with him directly using the Excursiopedia platform. They can even ask for tours tailored to their specific requirements.

The site takes a 15% commission for its services and the platform currently has about 7000 offers worldwide, about 3000 service providers, 900 destinations and is translated into seven languages.

It has also about 80,000 unique visitors per month (traffic grows about 20 % monthly according to the presenter) and sells about 150 tours a month with a gross value of Euro 40,000. The ambition is to become the Airbnb for tours and activities (like so many, I guess).

Interestingly, the presenter was asked about the name of the company, which is rather hard to pronounce in any language, and said it was  chosen for two reasons:

  • It’s truly international
  • It’s easy to remember unlike the names of competitors.

Excursiopedia ended up winning Startup Battle at TechCrunch Moscow 2012 where 40 startups, including the five above, presented their ideas over two days.

NB: This is a guest article by Valentin Dombrovsky, CEO of Travelatus.

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A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.



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  1. Psycho

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Once again I’m glad that Russian online travel experience is useful for you.

  2. Parker

    This is an awesome resource. I’ve been preparing to visit Russia for about a year now, and I’ve been looking around for some last minute travel apps to help me along my way. A DISH coworker of mine suggested your website, as she is an avid traveler as well. App In The Air looks awesome, and so does Travolver. However, my favorite app for long journeys has to be my DISH Remote Access app. With it I can use my iPad or phone to watch live or recorded TV off my home receiver. As long as there is a wifi or 3G connection available, I’m good to go, making it perfect for travel. Thanks again for the suggestions!

  3. Steve

    Fascinating article. It makes you wonder what online travel in the future will look like. Some of the ideas you describe are very innovative, but obviously not all of them will catch on, so it will be interesting to see which approach emerges as the dominant force. I think some of the ideas, such as planning your holiday like a storyline, sound a bit too “off the wall” for many consumers, but I would be happy to be proved wrong.

  4. Ilya

    about 80,000 unique visitors per month……and sells about 150 tours a month
    this information has to make sober many webmasters who do sites for affiliate programs

    • Kirill Sermyagin

      Ilya, this is just start working with customers. We growing 15-20% monthly without any advertisement, and our affiliate program just started. We expect big growing in visitors and bookings amount as well as conversion rate. First of all we tried to build best inventory in the market and we very close to success in it for entire market (already succeed for bespoke offers). Follow us in 2013 🙂

  5. Kirill Sermyagin

    Hi Valentin! Thanks for article, it is nice for growing travel startup community in Russia to be highlighted internationally. I believe that it will be more global startups from Russia soon.

    • Psycho

      Thank you, Kirill. Good luck to Excursiopedia – in fact, your project is one of those that can drive online travel growth in Russia as you offer an interesting product that can be a source for monetization for other startups that can use your affiliate programme. I call such projects “infrastructure projects” and wish you good luck in adding important component to Russian online travel infrastructure.

      • Kirill Sermyagin

        Thanks Psycho! I absolutelly agree with you. And not only for Russia, also for Spain and Italy and hope a lot of other local markets in nearest future 🙂

        • Fritz

          Now that certainly will be interesting to see: Excursiopedia coming out of RU and giving Western OTAs a nice challenge – not the usual “OTAs moving into Russia” but this time the other way 🙂

          • Psycho

            Oh, you know, Fritz, we have many OTAs that have global ambitions here, in Russia. More information will come up on Tnooz soon. 🙂

          • Kirill Sermyagin

            Thanks for nice feedback, Fritz! Yes, we will try to be really global! 🙂 I just think that we will be not competitor for OTAs, but great partner – sell our activities is only way for OTAs to increase average basket up to 2 times to hotel+flight+rent a car package.

  6. Psycho

    Subscribing to comments.


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