Travel plans can be both chaotic and fun. Whether you are travelling alone or planning a family vacation, you travel to relax and to create priceless memories without the stress of planning the trip. Besides, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to travelling. And offering this flexibility and personalisation to travellers is Mumbai-based Taxidio.
Started in November 2015 by two travel enthusiasts - Vishal Kejariwal (35) and Abhas Desai (36), Taxidio (meaning ‘travel’ in Greek) is an online DIY (Do-it-Yourself) trip planner.
What more? Taxidio has a B2B vertical to enhance concierge experience across hotels. It also provides tech-based solutions for independent travel agents and online travel agents (OTAs).
After the website went live in May 2017, the founders launched an iOS and Android application in March 2018.
After travelling to nearly 30 countries, Vishal, an MBA in Finance, turned his passion for travelling into a full-time job. He was joined by his college friend Abhas, an engineer with an Executive MBA in Information Technology. Abhas worked with the Aditya Birla Group before joining Vishal in this venture.
“We have always loved travelling, and the more we travelled, we realised that no matter how easy it sounds, planning a trip is rather complicated and the industry is highly fragmented,” says Vishal, who has previously worked for the Essar Group. “Thus, we went beyond what we were doing at our jobs,” he adds.
Besides the two co-founders, the team consists of four other members with IT, finance, and media backgrounds.
Challenges of starting up
Like every journey comes with many bumps, twists, and turns, “creation and curation of content have been our biggest challenge,” says Vishal.
In an industry where content is easy to find, but also gets outdated very soon, Taxidio wanted to create a niche. Hence, the platform overcame this problem by updating its content regularly.
And while the content and team were in place, like any other startup, the need for funds was another big challenge for Taxidio. “Especially since the cost of marketing has skyrocketed,” says Vishal.
What started as a bootstrapped company with Rs 30 lakh investment, Taxidio, over the years, managed to raise Rs 2 crore from friends and family.
On the Taxidio platform, the user can enter a few basic details about their travel style and preferences, and Taxidio generates a list of destinations that match their preferences.
The startup provides the user with 19 interest parameters, based on which it offers choices. The travel platform also recommends attractions and activities to indulge in during the trip. Users can plan and modify the auto-generated itinerary, securing hotel and attraction bookings.
“Hotel recommendations are clearly designed based on the user’s budget and proximity to the majority of the attractions or activities they select,” says Vishal.
Taxidio also has an affiliated partnership for hotel booking and attraction booking with Booking.com and GetYourGuide.com, respectively.
It lists the itinerary in a sequential manner, also called the ‘straight line algorithm’. Unlike other travel agents who just list the attractions, Taxidio lists places in each city on a ‘straight-line basis’ by letting them know the sequence in which they should visit the attractions. It also provides the distance between each place of interest they want to visit.
Taxidio also gives a detailed description of the place, its opening and closing time, entry fee charges, nearest public transport, etc., to better organise the trip.
B2B offering and user base
The platform also has a B2B vertical. It partners with hotels to automate their concierge and reception to enhance the guest’s experience. It also provides a plug-and-play solution for online travel agents, ensuring personalised and efficient trip planning.
For independent travel agents, it provides its software-as-a-solution. It also offers plug-and-play solutions where the travel agents can use its platform and services to book hotels and attractions. And for OTAs, it gives options they can provide to customers.
Apart from its B2B offerings, Taxidio mostly targets travellers between ages 18 and 45.
“As per our database, roughly 60 percent of our users are Indians, 20 percent Americans, 15 percent Europeans, and another five percent are from the rest of Asia,” says Vishal.
As per the company records, Taxidio has more than 2,100 registered users, and gets most of its bookings from Mumbai.
“Europe has been trending when it comes to itinerary bookings,” says Vishal.
The travel platform also basked in its glory when it was the only Indian startup to get selected for Madeira Startup Retreat in Portugal last year.
Operating in a competitive segment, Taxidio realised it had to cater to its customers’ needs by creating its own niche. Hence, it lets travellers plan their trip on the portal for free of cost. The platform does not charge anything for booking accommodation or attractions through its portal either. Taxidio, however, earns commissions for these.
The startup generates most of its revenue from the APIs as commission for the bookings made through its website. It is soon launching a travel guide solution, for which it plans to charge between Rs 150 and Rs 200 per city for a travel guide.
Additionally, the B2B solutions for hotels are chargeable on a subscription basis. And for online travel agents, it has a strategic partnership.
Since the website went live, Taxidio claims to have routed bookings worth $150,000.
“We have seen a rise of about five percent on a month-on-month basis on the number of users on the website, and a similar pattern can be seen on the app,” says Vishal.
The startup is expecting to have more than seven lakh unique visitors in the next one year.
Travel business and future
According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the Indian travel market is projected to grow between 11 and 11.5 percent to be a $48 billion market by 2020.
With several companies operating in the space in India, Taxidio is currently competing with the likes of MakeMyTrip, Trivago, Pickyourtrail Thrillophilia, and Tripoto. However, what sets Taxidio apart is its DIY feature and B2B services.
“Now that we have a firm hold on the B2C front, we have dabbled deeper into the B2B space,” says Vishal.
Taxidio is now looking to strengthen its business development and tech team. It is also planning to raise more funding and is in the process of talking to various investors.