Startups are Riding the Change in Domestic Travel in India; It’s all About Adventure

The Indian online industry has also buckled up to cater to this new segment. Travel sites have started focusing on localised experiences than vanilla sightseeing. Startups are walking an extra mile to bring fresh and innovative ideas to engage users.

Domestic travel meant pilgrimages, honeymoon destinations and treading the beaten track. But that’s changing fast. The travel industry is seeing a radical shift in recent times with younger consumers looking for experiences rather than destinations.

The Indian online industry has also buckled up to cater to this new segment. Travel sites have started focusing on localised experiences than vanilla sightseeing. Startups are walking an extra mile to bring fresh and innovative ideas to engage users.

Take for instance Thrillophilia, a website for experiential travel. The three year old marketplace of unique activities, things to do and experiences currently lists more than 900 experiences across 74 cities in India.

The firm did a turnover of Rs 3 crores last year with a growth rate of 200% from past three years. Currently it serves more than 2200 customers a month and is planning to empower local vendors feature on the website to take SMS bookings.

Travel Adventure
Image: sxc.hu

The Bangalore based startup claims that the best sellers on the site are weekend getaway activities from Bangalore, where it is headquartered.

According to Abhishek Daga, Co-Founder, Thrillophilia, 12% of the revenues comes from international travellers who mainly buy trips and activities in Rajasthan and Kerala. But the rest, are domestic travellers.

The Indian travel industry is scattered with small and large vendors offering unique experiences, but their services are limited to an area, city or community. In fact, 73% of share of the overall travel Industry in India, which is expected to reach $23 billion by the end of 2013, lies with non digital service providers.

iExperience, a Delhi based startup focussing on a similar theme, now aggregates over 200 experiences at prices ranging from Rs 220 to Rs 30,000, making it an attractive proposition for the budget conscious and savvy youngsters. The company operates in 15 cities. (Read our review of iExperience here).

Tushky, another Mumbai based startup wants to bring extraordinary experiences to people. Part of the 6th batch of 500 startups, Tushky aggregates things to do from different categories such as Health, Adventure, Cooking, Fashion, Music, and Photography among others. (Read our coverage of Tushky here).

Indian activity travel market is $2 billion

According to Abhishek Daga Co-Founder,Thrillophilia, Indian activity travel market is around $2 billion in contrast to global market size, which is around $142 billion. “Online travel has the largest share in Indian ecommerce industry. According to an estimate, it will constitute 71% of the total ecommerce market of Rs 62,967 crore by the end of 2013.”

Indian online travel agencies such as ixigo.com and Cleartrip have launched products that also offer intercity travel experiences and things to do. The trip planner by ixigo offers options of weekend getaways, things to do in Delhi for free and other similar stuff. Waytogo, a multi mode route finding and booking tool by Cleartrip has transit data for intra city commutation and weekend getaways in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Companies like Linger.in* that are more of an offline business and many others who have started up are also about offbeat experiences.

Activity travel constitutes 20% of the global spend done on tourism

Globally, activities and experience based things to do are in huge demand, specially in US and Europe. Of the global spend done on tourism in 2011, nearly 20% is on adventure and activity travel, which was just 7% in 2000 according to a report by Xola, a global adventure consultancy firm.

Portals like Viator , GetYourGuide, SafariDesk serve travelers looking for unique things to do, around the world.

* Linger’s founder Sameer is part of the NextBigWhat team.

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