In India, there are many holiday packages offered by tour operators on a small and large scale. A customer looking to go on holiday often finds it difficult to survey all the options on offer and then finally pick the right one for him or her. Tripshelf is an online solution to that exact painpoint- Tripshelf aggregates a range of holiday packages from specialized travel operators located across the country. Founded by Jai Raj Gupta, Dhruv Gupta and Sukhmani Singh, Tripshelf allows travellers to discover, compare and make the right decision for their travelling needs. We chat with Jai Gupta about their venture. An excerpt from the interview:
- What made you start your venture?
About two years ago I was planning a family holiday to Egypt and went online to look for holiday packages. 6 days of research, 24 websites and 30 packages later I was more confused as each tour operator had his own templates and I just could not compare the options to arrive at a comprehensive, cost effective and reliable option. I wondered – couldn’t there be one website that would have these 20 options from 20 operators that could be put side by side and compared? That’s how Tripshelf was born.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
Tripshelf is an online marketplace for leisure travellers to discover, compare and buy the best holiday packages from unlimited tour operators each listed under their own brand name. We are a market place aggregator and not an OTA or niche service provider. Tripshelf is the only service of its kind in India to help travellers fulfil this need.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
The main challenge has been gaining credibility with travel operators and customer traction to use this comparison service. A travel holiday is a high involvement, high purchase value decision. Many first time travellers are moving out to national and international destinations where decisions are more fraught with uncertainty. There is a high research time is spent on the internet looking for the perfect holiday and that’s were Tripshelf offers them the perfect comparison engine. All these services are free for the customer. Tripshelf is a market place aggregator. In fact they will be invited to list on our website. It’s like a premium shopping mall where premium brands such as an M&S, Zara etc. find it more economical to take a shop here than making stand alone stores. It’s all about driving footfalls to Tripshelf as the first point of contact for anyone planning a holiday.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
GEMS, our investor group comprises veterans of the travel industry. Our mentors are: Kavi Ghei, who has 25 years of travel experience is the Principal Promoter TRAC Representations, representing Tourism Boards of 7 countries in India. Sunil Narain, Chairman of UNIGLOBE Travel networks that functions across 40 locations in India with a team of 670 plus business travel experts, has more than 25 years in the travel business. Suresh Nair, General Manager of a leading international airline is our chief mentor with 35 years in the travel business. This gives us domain expertise, offline business knowledge and allows us credibility with the travel operator community, key to getting them on board.
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
We have used the latest web tools for development of our website. We plan to introduce our mobile app soon as travel search is often impulse driven.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
Although we are an information based, market place model, we have to ensure customers enquiring through our website are adequately serviced by the concerned travel operators. So we have our own team facilitating the process of fulfilment, ensuring customer satisfaction.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
For us, the three defining skills would be
- Ability to think laterally in all situations
- Team leadership