Trip38 aims to be the only local guide app that travellers will use in a destination

Trip38 sees huge potential in the post-booking stage of a trip by using social, mobile and location based services to help travellers find destination information.

Users forward their hotel booking email to India-based Trip38. The service parses the email content and creates an itinerary in its mobile app.

While doing so, the app also find destination specific details like attractions, places to see, restaurants, local events, weather, taxi booking details, local embassy etc.

Trip38 says the service will work completely off-line.

Trip38 - Tnooz TLabs

The company is founded by Sesh (ex-head, travel & retail vertical at Sapient Europe), Niranjan Gupta (co-founder of and Markish R (ex-CTO of MagicRooms).

Alongside its founders, Trip38 has four technologists, one UI expert and one running content management.

The company is self-funded and aiming to raise $1 million as seed capital following talks with various investors in India and abroad.

Sesh tells Tnooz why founders started Trip38:

“The entire founding team has rich experience of travel, technology, entrepreneurship, product expertise and hence wanted to focus on something which has not yet been attempted in the world.

Among us, we have created new ideas, successfully launched startups in the marketplace, have seen exits and hence we wanted to get a very disruptive and world class product in the travel space for the global market.”

Q&A with Sesh below:

Describe what your start-up does, what problem it solves and for whom?

Trip38 aims to disrupt the way travelers find information when they travel after their booking is completed. Today, with the convergence of mobile, local and social, there is a far greater influence of SoLoMo at the consumer end and we want to leverage the same for travelers traveling from anywhere in the world.

Trip38 is a smart location aware mobile app providing context sensitive, location content in terms of sightseeing options, restaurants, local events, weather, hotel offers/deals, embassy/consulate information. All of these will be delivered on the traveler’s smartphone just with their confirmation vouchers.

Trip38 will be the only app you will need when you travel since we combine everything you need in a single app.

Why should people or companies use your startup?

While there are products and mobile apps addressing the search or the transaction side of travel, there are very few (or none probably) exist in the market place delivering location specific content around your place of stay with no or little effort from the traveler.

We have aggregated a variety of content sources with:

  • More than 200,000 hotels across the world
  • Attractions and sightseeing options running into 180,000 across the world
  • More than 30,000 indian restaurants for Indian travellers when they travel out of india
  • All embassies and consulates across the world for all the countries
  • More than 30,000 cities in the world

Simply put, Trip38 is a eco-system technology platform helping every traveler to get the locally relevant data anywhere in the world.

To summarize in a single line – “Book anywhere. Use Trip38 as your local guide!”.

What’s your revenue model and strategy for profitability? 

Our revenue streams are:

  • Hotels – Platform usage fees / transaction fees: Use Trip38 to engage with their consumers for up-sell and cross-sell offers, push notifications, deals/offers, local  events/concierge services.
  • TMCs / travel agents: Use Trip38 to engage with their corporate & leisure customers with the agencies’ own branding.
  • Tourism boards – transaction fees: Enable their sightseeing/attraction partners to participate in Trip38 to provide coupons/offers/promotional deals for various attractions and events in their country/region.

We aim to keep the product free for the end consumer forever (at least for now).

Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?

We have a very unique way of getting our app downloaded and used by the travellers. For starters, there will be lot of user engagement and social elements built into the app to make it go viral and create a network effect.

Apart from the above, we aim to reach out to our end consumers through the trusted TMCs (Travel Management Companies) and Travel Agents since they need to add value to their customers and Trip38 is a perfect partner for the same.

Moreover, unlike OTAs, we do not plan to sell or conduct any transactions on our platform and hence there is no real conflict of interest between Trip38 and the travel trade.

Who are your competitors?

While our product is fairly unique, the competition can come from,

  • TripAdvisor who can have post-booking content as a feature onto their app
  • Tripit and other existing trip organizing app can get into local content
  • Local content providers like Lonely planet, mTrip, Ulmon etc can get aggressive and provide deeper local content across various markets
  • Nor1 and Stay N Touch provide hotel engagement platforms as of now and work with large chains in the US market only
  • GDS specific trip organizers like Tripcase, World Mate, ViewTrip
  • OTAs can get into this model by building features in their mobile app

How did your initial idea evolve? Were there changes/any pivots along the way? What other options have you considered for the business if the original vision fails?

We know each other for few years and have been meeting regularly to brainstorm various ideas in travel and beyond travel as well. In one of the many meetings, we debated on lack of post booking solutions to the customers and months of research and survey led to create this unique product for the global consumer.

Frankly, we are obsessed with adding value to the traveller once their booking is confirmed and hence no real Plan B as of now!

Where do you see yourselves in three years time, what specific challenges do you hope to have overcome?

We would like to have five million downloads with presence (in terms of consumers) in 40 countries in the next three years time. Our key challenge will be to convince hoteliers and tourism boards to pay us to use Trip38 for business platform since this needs longer gestation time (at least in the initial stages) since 90% of our revenue monetization depends on these two critical customers.

For us to keep the app free forever for our consumers, we need revenue from these two sources for our business to be sustainable.

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

Some of the key challenges faced by the Industry are:

  • Everyone is fixated on getting the transaction done through metasearch, pre-booking and booking sites and very few businesses seem to look at the consumer needs beyond the booking process
  • Clear lack of understanding about the confluence of SoLoMo (Social, Local & Mobile) especially for travelers who would need to explore the city on their own
  • Lack of collaboration with OTAs and local guides to scale the post-booking part and make it more seamless for the traveler

Tnooz view

At a first look at the process of emailing itineraries to an email ID, the memories of Tripit kicks in. But, Trip38 differentiates itself from the activity which happens with the ability to have all destination-related information in the app which can then be used without a data connection while roaming.

In the testing we carried out with Trip38, we were unable to use maps without a data connection.

The B2B2C feature in Trip38 is interesting, giving hotels the ability to up-sell/cross-sell to customers, and for agents to white label their brand via Trip38 to customers. There is a layer of dependency that exists here for Trip38 to generate revenue.

Customers have to start using Trip38, and continue to use the app for their future transactions too. Its only when hotels/agents estimate that Trip38 is an indispensable service for customers, they then might consider having Trip38 as partner.

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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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