How online traveler feedback is revolutionizing Indian travel

Optimized-Holidayiq_eComm

Over 1 million Indian travelers have shared their feedback in the form of Holiday Reviews & Ratings on HolidayIQ.com – this seminal moment having occurred in May of this year. In fact, in the single month of July 2014, more than 50,000 Indian travelers shared reviews on the site marking a 15 times jump over the same period last year. Clearly Indian travelers have strong opinions and are now willing to share them.

Need for reviews

All of this feedback is now playing a big role in the majority of travelers making purchase decisions. As a platform that assists travelers in planning their vacations and making informed choices about critical purchases (such as hotel bookings, transport bookings, vacation package purchases) HolidayIQ.com is primarily a content-led enabler of the travel e-commerce ecosystem. The main content that we have seen travelers demand before they make a purchase is a robust set of reviews presented by an independent & credible source.

The primary Challenge

The biggest challenge to this demand was to create a culture of review-giving among Indian travelers whereby a steady stream of traveller reviews is available to other travelers. India has not had a mainstream culture of giving a large number of travel reviews online. While a small segment of metro-centric travelers with wide international exposure were initial adopters, the challenge was to get a much broader segment of the Indian travelling public to share their opinions. Unless a wide variety of travelers give feedback, the reviews given will not be representative of the larger traveler opinion in India. This therefore was critical if we were to become a meaningful support to the hotel sellers in India. Innovation had to happen to get many more Indian reviewers to share reviews.

One innovation – Journey Reviews

The first place where we looked at for innovation was on the various aspects on which Indian travelers actually needed reviews. Historically, travel reviews have focused on reviews of hotels. While we recognised the importance of hotel reviews in the purchase content needs of travelers, wanted to understand what other areas of content were needed. A detailed survey was carried out with over 75,000 Indian travelers (members on HolidayIQ.com) spread over 30+ cities of India. This survey revealed another major area of content need for Indians which resulted in the addition of another set of reviews – Journey Reviews. Journey Reviews is a feature whereby HolidayIQ leverages traveler reviews of transport aspects of the journey to solve vexed transportation related information needs of Indian travelers. One example of a specific information need that is solved by Journey Reviews is of mode of transportation. Given the challenges in getting to the remote areas where most Indian holiday destinations are, travelers repeatedly seek advice on the best mode of transport to get to their destination. While a simple listing of available options is possible (eg. there are 2 trains to this place), we realised though the survey that the transportation information needs were a lot more nuanced which was best met through reviews. Out of this insight was born Journey Reviews.

A Journey Review on HolidayIQ.com – Gurgaon to Nainital

We booked the tickets about a week in advance. it was in early waiting for the first 3-4 days and then got confirmed. Boarded the train at about 10:45 in the evening. This train is relatively cleaner than most of the other trains I have travelled. Got good sleep for about 5 hours. The train was about 15-20 minutes late and when we reached Kathgodam it was about 6 the next morning. We got a taxi from outside the Kathgodam station. He charged us 800 bucks from Kathgodam to Nainital.

Train name (Train no):

Ranikhet Express (15013)

Tickets booked:
7 days prior

Boarding Station:

Old Delhi Junction
 2.50/7

This station has

·         Food available for purchase

·         Accomodation

·         Books/Newspaper to buy
·         Prepaid auto/taxi

Last Station:

Kathgodam
 4.00/7

This station has

·         Food available for purchase
·         Books/Newspaper to buy

As more & more travelers turn to online traveler feedback for most of their travel planning information needs, Travel Reviews are starting to fundamentally change the way Indian travel is researched & bought.

Views expressed here are personal

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