The Great Startup Story 5
Envision creating 1 million new job opportunities in the travel industry by 2025
The journey to TravelSpoc started with a frustrating personal experience.
I was in New York on a work assignment, setting up an IT team for one of America’s premier academic medical centres. I had to send an important courier to the Bangalore office of the MNC that I worked for.
At the courier agent’s office, I realised that my official travel card limit has been exceeded. I reached out to the Travel Card Support Desk and the travel desk in the business-class Manhattan hotel that I was put up, but they couldn’t help at that pressing hour as they needed approval from the senior management who were located in a different continent.
A few local contacts helped save the day!
Thinking back, it was a Eureka moment for me. I realised the lurking business opportunity, waiting to be explored and exploited. I decided to take the plunge. My interaction with many travel agents gave me the knowledge that around 1.2 million travel agents were on the verge of closure due to the emergence of online travel booking applications.
Most travel agents were not using the latest technologies and nor was there available a common online platform for them to sell their products. The agents did not have enough market intelligence to understand the requirements of their customers. On the other hand, travellers were desperately feeling the need of having a personal connection in unknown destinations.
The idea of TravelSpoc (www.travelspoc.com) took shape in January 2019. It is an Artificial-Intelligence based ecosystem that makes available the best travel experience to travellers from multiple travel agents. It is a collaborative platform for all tour operators and travel intermediaries to showcase their tour packages/travel products and sell online in their brand and identity. The platform is all about making available travel/tour packages from different agents in one place through online collaboration, where travellers can compare packages from different agents before they purchase it.
How does TravelSpoc work?
The platform looked at two ways to solve the problem faced by both the agents and travellers. For the agents, it built a SaaS-based traveller management platform to help them manage and analyse customer bookings and its data with the goal of improving business relations with customers
and assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.
From the traveller’s perspective, this is an online marketplace that offers multiple packages from verified travel agents that help them in getting the best deals. Packages can be booked in a single click.
The process involves bringing both travellers and trusted local and expert travel specialists into a single ecosystem. Since it is a self-sustained ecosystem, tour operators can sell their unique and best deals to the travellers by understanding the traveller’s requirements. TravelSpoc supports travellers with an AI-based based bot that understands the traveller profile and creates unique packages from different agents.
The agents in the system are evaluated through a 360-degree stringent evaluation process to ensure the best quality and experience. Travellers have the choice of creating their own custom itinerary with the offers from different agents and pay at a single time through the system. The system will escrow between travellers and agents and provides a hassle-free system.
In the current scenario, tour operators create packages using their experience and exposure. TravelSpoc provides the tour operators business intelligence to create custom packages as per the current trend. It also helps agents to take up target marketing to the right travellers who are in need of it.
The ecosystem offered by TravelSpoc reduces the entry barrier of new players aspiring to start their business in the travel sector.
Headquartered in Trivandrum, TravelSpoc today operates with a team of over 15, a bouquet of 150+holiday planners across India and more than 20,000 registered travellers. It attracts around 4 lakh visitors on its website every month and serves travellers from 15 countries. To transform the portal into a travel ecosystem, a new feature has been introduced to compare prices among leading airlines and intelligently pick the best deals customised as per the traveller’s profile and filtering options.
The current growth has been the result of the past 6 months. Our plan is to grow 20 times in the next couple of years. Encouragement and support from the startup ecosystem have played a major role in strengthening our work. We were incubated with Kerala Startup Mission and was awarded product grant and seed fund. The Samrambham business magazine recognised us as the Best Innovative Travel Brand. TravelSpoc was also selected in the first tourism startup competition by United Nations World Tourism Organisation. GITEX Dubai and Innovfest Unbound at Singapore brought the product accolades for the innovativeness and uniqueness.
We have chalked out our future plans. I would like to conclude by quoting Ms Kavitha Somasekharan, Director, TravelSpoc.
“Though we are only emerging, it has a huge potential. There are 1 billion yearly travellers and tapping 1% of them will help us hit the target of $100-million revenue by 2021. This will not only help us grow but will also empower many others to fulfil their dreams by being part of the travel business.”
“We have the vision of creating 1 million new job opportunities in the travel industry by 2025. We would like to provide opportunities to disabled people, women and school/college-going students to set up their unique travel business at their native or home and sell through our platform. This can bring a huge social transformation.”
Authored by Dr. Krishna Kumar T I, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at TravelSpoc