The Untapped Area of Travel Ecommerce - Best Way to Enter This Highly Competitive Sector

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Travelers have grown on to become a savvy bunch of techies!


This is an audience who can go to an extent of performing endless amounts of research, just to find the best deal, destination or packages. As compared to a while back, travel sector has definitely come a long way ahead, and has expanded to incorporate several aspects like activities, getaways, and travel gear.

Within it, the "Tours and Activities" sector even with a lot of challenges, still remains to be one of the last giant markets ($51 Billion just in Europe) that is ripe for disruption.

Serving to these folks, OTA's have seen to be coming up with endless tools, to fit in all the pieces of the puzzle together. This has led to a meteoric growth of different online channels in travel and has also opened doors for more creative ways for people to connect and to exchange services. This has also resulted in creation of dedicated travel platforms that offer users more than just a pleasant stay. These platforms are driven by exquisite experience that users get to relive.

Having said that, consumers who seek to purchase tours and activities have always been separated from the suppliers by layers of travel agents.

Hence, the role of disintermediation has always been the most important in a tours and activity marketplace. And given that, marketplaces naturally emerge to cut out the middle man and connect consumers directly with the suppliers, the model seems to fit-in just perfectly.

The success of these marketplaces has also inspired a surprisingly large number of start-ups to try to replicate the model within the tours and activities sector. All this has led to is an endless supply of half-measure tools and travel websites, for a tech savvy someone, who is ready to go on their dream vacation, but is lacking what they need the most. These don't really solve the actual purpose. (The real pain-point)

What the modern age travellers are looking for, is a smarter travel search and a one stop solution to their travel needs. A platform that combines all the information at one place! Something like – a full-fledged travel activity marketplace that offers complete ease and makes travel planning painless.

Essential requirements to start a travel activity marketplace...

To begin with – the purpose of online travel marketplaces is to connect travel enthusiasts with activity hosts in the given destination area.

The basic premise of such platforms is to help travellers find out about local activities & attractions and book them in advance to have a comfortable, hassle-free, and memorable vacation. But it is suggested that, rather than just being an online eCommerce portal that serves catering to travel enthusiasts, try being a one-stop gateway for travel. A near-to-full-proof recommended approach by many!

Add features based on market surveys and competitors analysis of existing travel business that is your direct competitors. Or, go for travel activity marketplace builders like FunAway that are designed keeping the latest trends in mind; and keep on updating features to their system. These platforms focus on connecting active and wellness travellers directly with local hosts on popular island destinations and also help raise environmental awareness and social responsibility during travel adventures.

Aside the aforementioned, and very easy-to-use and eccentric website with all the required filters (which make it easy for users to streamline the results), below mentioned are some of the important factors that could help reach the desired success:

  1. Provide real-time availability and easy online booking.
  2. Avoid booking errors, complicated check-ins and long waiting times
  3. Help in establishing attractive offers for seasonal trips, coupon codes, offers for the regular buyers, group booking & discount handling, etc.
  4. Let the marketplace owner manage activity host by certifying credentials.
  5. Help marketplace owners: Build attractive commission rates for Activity host i.e. based upon the size of business they generate, Popularity of activity & Activity host, create a sales based slab for activity hosts to encourage them to create a business opportunity.
  6. Activity host can manage activity listing, booking notification, Sales report & manage payments.
  7. A Marketplace owner can have attractive community based blog, which certainly helps marketplace owners in informing/engaging with the audiences.
  8. Multiple payment gateways can be integrated with this system as per the requirements.
  9. Traveller & Host both of them can interact with each other by Inbuilt Messenger feature.

One thing to not forget about a travel marketplace is that it's packed with endless features so offering a seamless user experience is the real challenge. Make it a priority to offer an experience instead of plain deals and bookings. The success of such a travel startup highly depends on how immersive the experience is. Better if your marketplace favours on-the-go travel related searches.

Having said everything about a travel marketplace, your success in travel industry primarily depends on the model you choose. There are various travel models for an online business to adopt like holidays, flights & hotels, self-served personalized model. The third being the newest and most prolific attracts more travellers these days. The tech savvy traveller love to plan their itinerary so this could be a good option for anyone to invest in travel ecommerce ecosystem in near future.