Bengaluru-based HolidayIQ, India’s largest online travel community platform, is moving to the next stage of its growth by adding video content to its offering list. Originally focused on domestic destinations, the platform also plans to add content on destinations in the Middle-East and South-East Asia where Indians leisure footfall is growing.
For observers in the Indian travel market place, Bangalore-headquartered Holiday IQ today simply stands as India’s response to Trip Advisor – the platform formed in 2000 in the US which has made rapid strides on the basis of user-generated content. The most credible travel review platform in the world generates a staggering 280 million unique visitors traffic monthly. Launched much later, about eight years ago, HolidayIQ has built quite a profile in its own way. According to Hari Nair, Founder and CEO of Holiday IQ, the platform is receiving about 12 million visitors every month (including those who are making use of its app) and has shown tremendous growth in the last couple of years. “There has been a rapid growth in the visitors to our platform in the last two years. About two years back, the volume of visitors on a per month basis was around 3.5-4 million. Now it has grown by at least three times,” Nair told TourismFirst in a recent exclusive conversation.
Holiday IQ has taken a community based approach and today claims to have millions of Indian travellers writing authentic reviews on myriads of products – hotels, destinations, packages, transportation facilities, etc. In a nutshell, the platform has encouraged community wisdom within the travel and tourism space. “We are not a travel agency. We are in the business of selling, authentic information. And that is our strength,” emphasised Nair. During the process of its evolution, Holiday IQ has included several features to endear it with the leisure travel community in India including experts advise, photo features on different destinations, holiday planning (both online as well as offline) and now also involved in big-scale data mining pertaining to travel trends which is helping it to furnish micro-informative surveys every now and then (read the box piece: Data mining adds to Holiday IQ’s profile). Additionally, the platform is also acting as aggregators’ aggregator in some way partnering with as many as 18 large-scale platforms which are in the business of selling travel related products. “We have integrated with 18 travel agencies across the world which includes Makemytrip, Yatra, Cleartrip, Expedia, Bookings.com. Hotels.com, Oyo Rooms, Stayzila, etc. We have around 1,24,000 hotels on our platform and apart from travel related information, we also provide the opportunity to travellers to compare prices,” said Nair.
Last month, Holiday IQ has introduced a new feature which it believes will help it in taking next big leap. Around the middle of February, it introduced a video review feature on Varanasi and it will soon be covering more destinations going ahead. “This tool will help us at several levels. It will make things easier for our visitors who do not understand English well because seeing is believing factor comes into the play here. We already have more than 1000 video reviews in our kitty and this is going to be major growth tool for us in the future in terms of attracting more traffic. It will further consolidate our position as there is no other platform providing this feature,” Nair stressed. The video content shared by the travellers community will be processed at the back end to ensure no objectionable content is shown but Nair emphasised that Holiday IQ will not tinker with any opinion expressed by the contributor.
In Holiday IQ’s immediate scheme of things for further growth, catering information on overseas destinations where Indian footfall is growing is also on top of the agenda. “Our primary concentration in the past has been to supply domestic leisure tourism segment with the good quality information. It has been an ignored area even as statistics reveal that there was around 300 domestic leisure trips registered in the country last year. At the same time, India outbound is also growing commendably. So we have decided to expand our ambit and cater community shared information on overseas destinations which are popular for India outbound. Over the next one year, we will be focusing on Asian destination especially in the Gulf as well as South-east Asia,” Nair informed.
On the basis of these new initiatives, Holiday IQ has set up quite a target – a four- fold increase in its traffic in the next couple of years. “Having built a base of 12 million visitors per month, our obvious objective now is to take it to 50 million. It is quite doable given the growing internet penetration,” said Nair. Prima Facie, it may sound to be an ambitious target but considering the fact that Tripadvisor reports a traffic of 280 million globally, Nair’s confidence can’t be simply brushed aside as unfounded. Holiday IQ also seems to be on a sound financial base with some modest funding from major players in the past. “So far, we have generated $25 million of funding,” informed Nair. In 2013, it had raised funds from Tiger Global and Accel Partners (undisclosed amount) and last year had received a big thumbs up from online travel leader MakeMyTrip when it acquired 28 percent in Holiday IQ with a capital infusion of $15 million. Interestingly, this has also raised speculations in the marketplace that in a future date MakeMyTrip may make a move to take over the company. “So far, there has been no such discussions between us. Holiday IQ still has a long way to go and we are pursuing that objective single-mindedly,” Nair responded.