“The World Is A Book And Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page.”
- St. Augustine of Hippo, Philosopher
The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries in India. According to government statistics in 2017, the annual growth rate of domestic travelers in India stood at 17.2%. It contributed about $247 billion dollars to the country's GDP in 2018. It did take a massive it in 2020 but the industry is slowly recovering from that.
The booming IT industry and outsourcing industry has led to a growing number of business trips made by foreigners to India, who often add a weekend break or longer holiday to their trip. Because of the internet, they have access to all the information in relation to a place, they want to have a perfect itinerary for their travel and they can also compare prices online. From choosing destinations to connecting with locals and customizing the holiday, the travel startup business in India is looking to add a new dimension to the ever-evolving traveling story.
Here is a list of the best travel and tourism startups in India which are making it feasible to travel for everyone:
- OYO Rooms
- Travel Triangle
Travel & Tourism Industry in India - Key Highlights
Top Travel and Tourism Startups in India
Cleartrip, headquartered in Mumbai, was founded by Stuart Crighton, Hrush Bhatt in the year 2005. The company operates an online travel aggregator website for booking flights and train tickets, hotel reservations, and activities in India and the Middle East countries. Cleartrip is one of the few business travel startups in India. It has offices across India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Cleartrip is another travel tech company in India, started its services to the Persian Gulf nations of Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt. On June 21, 2018, Cleartrip announced the acquisition of Saudi Arabia-based online travel aggregator (OTA) Flyin.
Cleartrip also operates -
- Cleartrip for Business, an online corporate travel management tool. It is a business travel solution for companies
- Agent Box, a travel tool for travel agents.
- Cleartrip Mobile, a travel booking app for consumers.
- Expressway, to let users store traveler profile and payment details securely to make one-click bookings.
- Flexifly, a solution that enables flyers to change their travel date and time and switch flights between airlines without any hefty penalties.
In 2007, founded by Ashish Kashyap, Deepak Tuli, Sanjay Bhasin, Vikalp Sahni, and Uma Shankar, Goibibo disrupted the travel segment by providing a seamless travel experience. It is the subsidiary of MakeMyTrip. Along with the usual services travel startups provide, Goibibo became the no 1 travel startup trusted by many due to their introduction of the travel sector’s first virtual travel booking currency, named as GoCash, and travel social network, GoCash+ Rewards! This portal is better known for offering various deals and incentives to its customers
OYO Rooms is a travel startup in Gurgaon, founded by 21-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, and has become very popular recently. It is the largest hospitality startup from the list of top hospitality startups in India comprising budget hotels. It is usually one of the first names that pop up in people's minds when they think of travel startups in India. The startup works in liaison with existing hotels and offers travelers vacant rooms at a cheaper price. OYO Rooms start at a nominal price of Rs. 999. Besides bulk renting hotels, they have also invested in their own properties as well. Click here to know how exactly OYO Rooms work.
The users can also opt for OYO Premium which provides a more-than-basic experience. OYO Rooms are located in the prime areas of the city and therefore they ensure travelers of having the best experience, it is also close to the best sight-seeing destinations and various dining options. The startup also raised an investment of $90 million from Softbank earlier in 2016. In 2019, OYO raised $1.5 Billion in Series F funding led by SoftBank Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Sequoia India.
MakeMyTrip is one of the oldest travel startups in India being founded in 2000, by Deep Kalra. The inspiration for this startup came to Kalra when he was booking a holiday to Thailand. He realized that the internet could offer more competitive prices by cutting out the middleman. MakeMyTrip's mission is to provide customers a one-stop-shop for all their travel needs by providing online travel services that include flight tickets, domestic and international holiday packages, hotel reservations, rail and bus tickets.
Ithaka was launched as an in-destination experience booking website. Today Ithaka is a chat-based travel planning app, that covers destinations from Thailand, Bali, Europe, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, and Turkey. The Ithaka app is available for both Android and iOS.
Ithaka was started by Rahul Singh and Ameya Sahasrabudhe who were friends from IIT Bombay. Both of them loved traveling and the inspiration for starting an online travel business in India came from their own travels.
While trying to sell activities and in-destination experiences to travelers on the ground, the Ithaka team noticed that there are many people who keep asking for travel advice. This made the team come up with the idea of a chat-based travel planning startup.
Deepak Ananth and Vineet Rajan are the founders of ScoutMyTrip. ScoutMyTrip is a road trip planner which conflates human intelligence with artificial intelligence to help plan the perfect road trip for individuals. It works for all sorts of outings, from short weekend travels to long excursions.
With artificial intelligence, customers can create an itinerary containing the information necessary for their road trip—gas stations, toilets, restaurants, hotels to stay, and points of interest. The human intelligence aspect brings in the ability to personalize information as per one's needs.
[The startup has been shut] Founded by Vineet Budki, Nidhi Varma, Prashant Choudhary, and Biswajeet Karmakar in 2014, Guiddoo is a Mumbai-based travel startup. Guiddoo simply guides its users in all the aspects of traveling. From telling you the opening time of a particular destination to telling you about the precautions of that place, it provides all information. With features such as an audio-visual guide, information related to history and trivia, and free concierge services, Guiddoo solves all in-destination travel needs. With its growing popularity among Globetrotters, Guiddoo aims to be a One-Stop Platform for travelers to discover and book great travel experiences during their international trip.
Founded by Hari Ganapathy & Srinath Shankar in 2014, Pickyoutrail is a Chennai-based travel startup. Pickyourtrail helps travelers to plan their vacations easily. The platform uses deep tech to let travelers create, customize and book international vacations. Pickyourtrail considers more than 40 factors like duration, travel time, ratings, etc to build personalized itineraries that travelers can further customize & book. After the trip is booked, travelers can use Pickyourtrail’s app to keep track of bookings and get real-time information on flight and weather updates, restaurant recommendations, and on-trip chat support.
Thrillophilia is one of the top travel startups in Bangalore, founded in 2009 by Abhishek Daga that provides a plethora of handpicked adventure travel options for travelers where they can discover, compare and book from around 1000 suppliers. The travelers can also curate the best tours and authentic suppliers.
Thrillophilia provides you with handpicked adventure travel options. It is best suited for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-track package for sightseeing, sports, and adventurous activities like water rafting, snorkeling, bungee jumping, and skydiving.
Travel Triangle is co-founded by 3 IIT graduates, Sankalp Agarwal, Sanchit Garg, and Prabhat Gupta. TravelTriangle is headquartered at Gurugram and operates with a versatile team of 450+ people. Travel Triangle is operating as an online marketplace model bringing both travelers and trusted & expert travel agents on a common platform. Travel Triangle is a SaaS-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform to help them manage and analyze customer interactions and data.
goMowgli is a travel startup that had its name inspired by the fictional character we all loved growing up –Mowgli from Jungle Book. It has a fleet of buses across different states (using the concept of “hop-off buses”) and the travelers can buy a pass for a fixed number of days – a week or two. It is suitable for solo travelers and backpackers who want to travel without a fixed plan or do not want to get in trouble of booking cabs while traveling the city.
goMowgli will tell you the exact location of the nearest bus when you switch on the GPS feature on your smartphone. The app is growing in popularity very fast.
Tripoto is a Delhi-based startup founded by Anirudh Gupta and Michael Lyngdoh and one of the best travel startups in India. It allows users to create itineraries for their future trips that they can also share with other travelers. They can share their travel experiences, related content and pictures, itineraries, maps, stories, and reviews.
The startup has one of the largest communities of travelers in the world where people get a chance to share their travel experiences, discover unique trips and travel itineraries by other travelers and connect with them around the world through the website. Tripoto’s aim is to become the largest source of crowd-sourced travel content platforms in the world by enabling users to share their credible travel information.
ExTravelMoney is an online aggregator and marketplace for forex services that bring the hyperlocal eCommerce model to foreign exchange business and is helping users save money on currency exchange and money transfer from and to abroad. Users can use this platform to search for banks and money changers near them who offer these forex services. They can also compare the exchange rates and total cost of a forex service including the services fees, tax charges, even the rating of each forex store they are searching for.
The users can therefore make an informed decision based on this knowledge and book the cheapest and the best forex services near them directly from their app ExTravelMoney. If you are traveling in a foreign country, foreign exchange is an important component to plan. It isn’t easy to purchase forex due to the time and the hassle it takes in finding the best exchange rates. The website provides travelers with forex dealers across the country to bring them the best available exchange rate in the market and all they need to do is log in to their website, state their forex requirement, and then it connects you to the nearest forex dealer.
Nearify is an app founded by Mayank Kumar, Saurav Singh and Vivek Srivastava in 2012 that provides users with updated information on events that are happening around them. Like information on the city, major tourist attractions, and fairs & festivals happening in the area. All the user needs to do is to key in the name of the city to find listings of meet-ups, workshops, music concerts, and cultural hangout places in their close proximity.
It is best suited for travelers who want to know what’s happening in other locations of the place they are traveling to and wish to plan their itinerary and also don’t want to miss out on the social events happening in nearby cities or locations.
TripHobo is a Pune-based travel startup that has an innovative new travel platform where the collective effort of their dedicated team of travel enthusiasts. They are trying to transform its user's travel experience by making travel more sharable and personally tailored. The platform lets you connect with travel buddies around the world and hence makes your experience even richer and memorable.
TripHobo is a vacation planning website that is also the world’s leading vacation planning platform on which you can plan trips to about 150,000 destinations worldwide. It lets users discover great itineraries created by travelers just like them.
iTraveller is a Bengaluru-based startup founded by Shiju Radhakrishnan and Sanjay Kumar in 2011 which is an online travel platform for travelers to explore travel destinations, plan and book their trips in advance. It allows users to dynamically create self-serviced customized travel packages after receiving inquiries from clients.
The users can also compare reviews and plan their activities and sightseeing for their trips, it also involves native wholesale suppliers who are responsible for the operational aspects of the business of your trip that includes ground handling and fulfillment. iTraveller has created more than 2 lakh trips featuring over 20 travel destinations across the globe and more than 60 native wholesale suppliers from across these destinations. The brand of iTraveller is now changed to Lastminute.
SeekSherpa was founded by Sukhmani Singh and Dhruv Raj Gupta in 2014. The mobile marketplace connects travelers with the local people in the city you are traveling to. These people are called “Sherpas” and are chosen after a thorough background check and verified authenticity. They offer numerous itineraries, popularly known as “micro tours”, from sightseeing, photography tours, and heritage walks and food walks to explore a location from the eyes of a local guide – Sherpa.
Sherpas can be from any profession and list experiences that will cost you less than Rs. 3,000 per participant. This is a unique feature that SeekSherpa offers, it helps you in traveling better by interacting with the residents of the place you are seeking to explore. This way, your trip is better, well experienced, and more memorable.
FAQs on Travel Startups in India
How to start a travel business in India or how to start a travel company in India?
Best tips to start a travel business in India or a travel company in India:
- Step 1: Prepare a plan for your travel business.
- Step 2: Brand your travel business along with dealing in legal formalities.
- Step 3: Manage your funding strategy.
- Step 4: Pick a great location and hire employees.
How to start an online travel agency in India?
The list of requirements to start an online travel agency in India:
- Make a thorough research on your competitors and the market.
- Find your own niche in the travel industry.
- Build your team.
- Take a call on a travel website or a travel software, or both.
- Make a strategy for marketing.
- Target a location.
Travelling is one of the most exciting and important parts of our life. It teaches us a lot. These startups in the tourism industry in India are helping us to make our journey better, safer, and easier. If we have missed out on any travel startup in India, do let us know in the comments.