"Ours is not a travel portal," elucidates Hari Nair, CEO, HolidayIQ, a travel and holiday information portal. Normally, travel portals are travel agencies selling travel products. However, HolidayIQ does not sell any products to the customers. They provide advice and opinion to them. "That’s where our differentiation is," says he.
Simply speaking, HolidayIQ provides a platform for travellers to share their opinions, information and photos with the larger travel community. The platform also provides the means to convert the "experience" of a destination or of staying at a hotel, into an objective, unbiased rating and/or review using their unique methodology, developed over months of research. "At HolidayIQ, we firmly believe that popular opinion today can improve the experience of travellers during their next holiday," explains Nair.
The Internet offers a plethora of resources to help a traveler book online hotels or travel by air or rail. But how one could know which hotel is better or which is the good deal for him. In fact HolidayIQ bridges this gap. "Our aim is to help the traveler use these reviews to select the ideal destination and hotel of their choice as part of their travel plans. The traveler has a choice of not only finding destinations and hotels matching his or her specific parameter, but also knowing how other travellers have reviewed that destination or hotel," says Nair.
It was just five years ago, when a small group of travel enthusiasts gathered around a table to create a completely new identity in Indian travel segment. This little group of travellers decided that instead of constantly complaining about poor facilities at some hotels, dubious service from parts of the travel trade and prejudiced information available, it was time for actual Indian travelers to take charge. "And so, was set in motion a process of developing an Indian tourism information service fully built on data and opinion provided by actual travellers. During those days this was indeed a radical idea of which many predicted that we would all fail," recalls Nair.
However, situation is different as HolidayIQ is flourishing today. With Alexa ranking around 350, portal is among the top500 websites in India with three lakh registered members and 40,000 unique visitors coming each day in search of travel information. "A voyager comes back with a bagful of feedback, which in turn becomes the selling point of the site. The content generated by our customers in delight or angst becomes the bagful of wares of HolidayIQ. We make money through advertisements. Also we get a share out of every lead generated people who visit our portal and goes to their destination website or any travel agency's website listed with us via our website," informs Nair. HolidayIQ has information on 10803 Hotels across the length and breadth of India. The information the site has include address, telephone numbers with updated STD codes, indicative room tariffs, and website URLs where available. Founded in 2004 by Hari Nair, HolidayIQ is owned and operated by Leisure and Lifestyle Information Services, based in Bangalore. In addition to funding by the founders, LLIS was funded initially by a group of Angel investors led by D S Puri (Co-founder of HCL group). Later, in its first round of institutional financing, LLIS raised equity from VC firm Erasmic. Recently, Bennett Coleman & Company has subscribed to a substantial minority interest in the equity of the company.
"Credibility and brand association is important to be in this business. We have all those. That's why we believe we'll be the leaders in this space in coming years," signs off Nair.