“It will be much more about responsible travel now. We are going to value our freedom a lot more" – Deep Kalra, Founder of MakeMyTrip on impact of Covid on travel industry
The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries in India, it's a major driver of economic growth globally. India's tourism industry is experiencing a good period of growth, driven by the flourishing Indian middle class, growth in high spending foreign tourists and coordinated government campaigns to promote 'Incredible India'. But Due to restrictions linked to Covid-19, the number of foreign tourist in India during 2021 decreased to 1.52 million compared to 2.74 million in 2020, dropping by 44.5%, though foreign exchange earnings grew during the same period, as per the India Tourism Statistics 2022 report. In 2019, India saw 10.93 million foreign tourist arrivals, which dropped by 75% in 2020.
In 2021, the travel and tourism industry in India contributed around 178 billion U.S. dollars to the country's GDP. Just a few days ago the Indian government has said that the country's tourism sector will recover to the pre-pandemic level by mid-2024 , they also said that by 2030, the tourism sector will contribute $250 billion to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).According to the recent India Travel Market Report by Phocuswright, the total Indian travel market stood at US$19.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $40.4 billion in 2025, with online penetration reaching 58% in 2025.
The booming IT and outsourcing industry has led to a growing number of business trips made by foreigners to India. After Covid, along with work from home, a new trend has come, i.e., workcation for which travel companies are coming up with very good offers and packages. These plans comprise elegant and peaceful places to work with sightseeing and event sports in the evening. These packages are varied and diverse.
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 the list of successful tour and travel startups.
- OYO Rooms
- Travel Triangle
Travel & Tourism Industry in India - Key Highlights
Top 20 Travel and Tourism Startups in India
MakeMyTrip is one of the oldest travel startup in India . 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.
|Founders||Stuart Crighton; Matthew Spacie; Hrush Bhatt|
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.
Clear trip 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 traveller 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.
Within few years goibibo became a big payer in travel industry. Goibibo acquired redBus in 2013 to enhance its product offering. The 2016 merger of MMT and Goibibo gave MMT depth of content and an access to a bigger consumer base. It's core value differentiator is the most trusted user experience, be it in terms of quickest search and booking, fastest payments, settlement or refund processes. Along with the usual services travel startups provide, Goibibo became the no 1 travel startup to introduce real travel booking currency named as Go Cash which can be used without any restrictions or limits of use.
In small towns, this start up company has built up good trust and about 48% of new users are associated with tier 2 and tier 3 cities, it has seen a 65% increase in transacting users since January this year and that it has been 'successful' in consolidating its position as the 'second largest' OTA brand in the country.
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 cost efficient hotel bookings in India. The startup works in liaison with existing hotels and offers travellers 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 travellers 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.
|Founders||Hari Ganapathy and Srinath Shankar|
Hari Ganapathy and Srinath Shankar got the idea of the startup after their experience from a self-planned trip to Europe in 2012. This platform uses deep tech to let travellers create, customize and book international vacations. Pickyourtrail considers more than 40 factors like duration, travel time, ratings, etc to build personalized itineraries that travellers can further customize & book.
After the trip is booked, travellers 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.
Their goal is to perform best in the tour and travel business when it comes to international trips.
|Founders||Vineet Rajan; Deepak Ananth|
ScoutMyTrip is a road trip planner ,It works for all sorts of outings, from short weekend travels to long excursions.
The motive that the duo has been able to solve through their startup is to collate information that is currently very diversified. Basically it is an information portal that makes travel easy and accessible for anyone. The company plans to connect travellers with people who want to travel on any particular vehicle. It will also facilitate customised tour packages.
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.
|Founders||Chitra Gurnani and Abhishek Daga|
The corporate outdoor and experiential learning model adopted by Thrillophilia in its early days, has proven to be of great significance since it was fairly new concept in India.
Thrillophilia provides you with handpicked adventure travel options. It is best suited for travellers seeking an off-the-beaten-track package for sightseeing, sports, and adventurous activities like water rafting, snorkelling, bungee jumping, and skydiving. The travellers can also curate the best tours and authentic suppliers.
|Founders||Sankalp Agarwal, Sanchit Garg, and Prabhat Gupta|
Travel Triangle operates their services with a versatile team of 450+ people. Travel Triangle is operating as an online marketplace model bringing both travellers 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 analyse customer interactions and data.
|Founders||Anil Alur and Sunil Abhilash|
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 travellers can buy a pass for a fixed number of days – a week or two. It is suitable for solo travellers 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 claims to be India's first flexible bus network for travellers. Flexible bus network mean is you can catch the bus anytime you want from any place in their network, and get off anytime, at any place.
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. At present, their revenue generation is basically based on the passes they sell (Rs. 1700/day) . And their marketing is mainly based on social media and word of mouth.
|Founders||Anirudh Gupta and Michael Pargal Lyngdoh|
|Founded In||Headquarter:- Delhi|
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 travellers 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.
|Founders||Avelo Roy, Mayank Kumar, Saurav Singh, Vivek Srivastava|
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.
|Founders||Praveen Kumar, Saket Newaskar, and Karthik Ramachandra|
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 travellers just like them.
|Founders||Shiju Radhakrishnan and Sanjay Kumar|
It's an online travel platform for travellers 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.
|Founders||Sukhmani Singh and Dhruv Raj Gupta|
The mobile marketplace connects travellers 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.
|Founder||Mr. Vishal Suri (Managing Director)|
SOTC India is a leading travel and tourism company active across various travel segments including Leisure Travel, Incentive Travel and Business Travel. It is one of the leaders in segments, namely Escorted Group Tours, Customized Holidays, and Incentive Travel amongst others. SOTC offers customized holidays around the world, Corporate Tours and provides packages for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) related travel needs.
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.
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.