STARTUP STAGE: TravelRank guides travelers to new destinations via AI

STARTUP STAGE: TravelRank guides travelers to new destinations via AI

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TravelRank

TravelRank’s AI analyzes the user’s travel history and compares it to data of similar travelers and similar unvisited destinations.

TravelRank will launch a premium subscription element later this year offering a personal travel assistant and other perks.

What is your 30-second pitch to investors?

TravelRank is a freemium web app that helps frequent travelers save days of research time by finding the top travel destinations, flights and sights tailored to each user by advanced AI.

Our AI will analyze user’s travel history and compare it with the data from similar users and similar unvisited destinations. Putting the manual search of destinations, flights, sights and weather comparison on autopilot. Getting things done in seconds instead of hours or days.

The AI estimates the likelihood that user will enjoy visiting a particular destination based on several factors:

  • user travel history imported from Foursquare or added manually
  • other members experience with similar travel history on our service
  • information about the 52,000+ destinations, such as its scores in 20+ categories

Website:

https://travelrank.me

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.

Business:

TravelRank relies on two revenue streams – premium subscriptions and affiliate commission from selling flights.

Premium subscription is currently in test mode and includes perks like a personal travel advisor, COVID filter and mail alerts on selected destinations, more options for travel history import and more insights on given recommendations.

Technology:

The tech know-how and innovation are in AI and automation of routine tasks like new destination discovery and research, flights and sights comparison. It’s the all-in-one tool for the travel discovery phase of your trip.

It narrows the hundred travel options down to just top the 10, greatly saving the users time.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.

Strengths:

  • Innovative solution, first on the market. People increasingly expect frictionless services with more and more automation and less manual work. Travel is no exception. AI, automation, personalized recommendations will replace manual search and operations in the near future.
  • We are observing this trend everywhere, in social media, ads and entertainment.
  • Modern, fast, lightweight and scalable tech stack

Weaknesses:

  • Travel recommendations based on AI and automated predictions need an extra effort to build customer trust and get into mass-market
  • New customer habits require some nurturing and time for adoption

Opportunities:

  • Travel is one of the oldest industries where tech renovation and transformation are still ongoing. Our goal is to make sure that our solution is mature enough before the mainstream travel market and bigger partners are ready to ride the “automated travel” wave

Threats:

  • Global disruptive events like COVID, limiting people’s options where to travel. People don’t need the automation if there is only a handful of places to go
  • Privacy constraints over personal data sharing and processing

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?

Travelers are often spending up to three weeks on travel research visiting dozens of sites back and forth. Results are generic. There should be a better way of doing this.

We want to reduce the travel planning friction, shortening the time loop between the idea to get somewhere and having an actual plan, knowing the best place to go, when, how and what to see there.

And we mean not just some plan that works for anyone, but a highly personalized plan based on customer personal travel experience and preferences.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?

  • We’re building an ambassador program and signing on influencers to spread the word about us among their audience.
  • Through the content and SEO
  • Via paid ads, social (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and Google
  • Using the referral program and word of mouth

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

We tested the early product need before even starting the development through a series of customer interviews with qualified leads, friends and early adopters.

Then we rolled out closed a Beta with limited access to the early adopters only. We run through the next iteration of interviews based on actual product usage, which produced many changes and improvements.

After the early validation and Beta testing, we released TravelRank into product showcase communities like ProductHunt, BetaList and IndieHackers. That is how we attracted the first few hundred users.

We believe there is a huge underserved market. There are 20 million Millennials traveling internationally in the U.S. who went through the tedious travel planning process 4-6 times each year. There is a clear opportunity with a total addressable market of around $3 billion.

How and when will you make money?

TravelRank will start making  money from the premium subscription launch later this year (currently in a test mode).

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?

Alexandr Shevchuk, 38yo, based in Kiev, Ukraine. Founder and CEO. Former product manager of booking and API team at Thomas Cook, U.K. Former project manager at Wargaming.net (World of Tanks developer, AAA massive multiplayer game with millions of players online worldwide).

Alex has 15+ years of experience in IT as JS full-stack developer, project, program and product manager. Helped to launch and grow 30+ products in various domains, e.g. travel, social and gaming.

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?

  • Getting more early adopters
  • Finding right channels and messaging for marketing and distribution during COVID

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact – so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

  • If not us there should be another company who will do the same, it’s technologically and socially inevitable
  • We believe it’s going to be the time for adoption of automated travel recommendations
  • Technology is ready, other tech sectors are building trust and making the case for AI

A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?

  • In a year I believe we’ll gain more mainstream adoption and will start entering the mass market.
  • In 5-10 years or so human travel experiences and preferences will be living in the cloud, processed and structured by AI. AI will completely or partially replace OTAs, travel agents, manual search engines.
  • People will be receiving highly personalized travel recommendations in time when it’s recommended by AI to travel again (based on the vital and psychological data).
  • Travel packages will be dynamically composed and automatically booked by AI based on such recommendations

What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)

Going public.

PhocusWire’s Startup Stage

Learn more about our profiling of new travel companies and how to apply.

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