The online travel booking market is valued at US$ 900 billion, with more than 90% of the 1 billion annual international trips being planned online. While the online flight and hotel booking space has seen a lot of growth in recent years, there is still a gap in the travel market when it comes to planning what to do during a trip, vis-à-vis finding the best attractions, and activities of individual interest in the destination.
The in 2012 founded startup Holidayen.com aims to radically simplify holiday planning by creating fully automated and customizable itineraries within seconds.
Their recommendation engine provides personalized recommendations for sights and activities based on the preferences of the user, and the automatic itinerary builder creates an optimized route for every single day of the trip. Every aspect of the itinerary is fully customizable. Users can share their saved trips with their friends on Facebook, and carry it on their smartphones or tablets.
Says founder Tarun Madan “I got the idea last year while planning a trip to Thailand. As part of an Entrepreneurship course at the University of Texas at Austin, I validated this idea in a market study, where an overwhelming majority of the travelers surveyed agreed that planning a trip was time-consuming and a hassle. People spent weeks researching a destination – reading guides, browsing different sites and asking friends who have been there.”
Tarun shared the idea with Mitanshu Garg, his “programming buddy” who had previously developed the SCM Buddy app, and his cousin Tarun Kalra, who runs the web-design house Design Mantras. Both of them helped with their valuable ideas and time to make Holidayen a reality.
Currently, Holidayen offers trip plans for 30 cities all over the globe. The trip planning service is free. Revenue generation is through partnerships with Expedia for hotel bookings, and Viator for activities. They will soon be releasing city-specific trip planning mobile apps, to plan on-the-go. The initial response to the product has been great, so going forward the focus would be on organically growing the user base.