Right from the regal Himalayan ranges in the North to serene backwaters in the South, India is full of tourist destinations. Indian tourism sector has rightfully been booming, and as a result a number of online startups are seen making their way.

Adding to the list is Times Internet Limited’s HappyTrips.com. The website is currently in its beta version and will offer information about tourist destinations to help travellers plan their trip.  For the record, Times Internet is a fully owned subsidiary of the The Times of India Group.

HappyTrips is broadly divided into five sections — Destinations, Hotels, Things To Do, Eating Out, and Nightlife and Guides. Also, the website has a magazine look, which according to it, makes it more interactive and engaging.

The website competes with travel portals such as HolidayIQ, an online community that offers travel-related reviews and information and Antfarm’s Arrive, which also has similar offerings.

While names such as MakeMyTrip and Yatra dominate the online travel agency space, niche websites such as TravelKhana (an online service for ordering food for long train commutes) are also coming in.

In the presence of such competition, it is usually very difficult for online startups to leave a mark in this cut-throat industry. Delhi-based HappyTrips has the Times Internet tag, which can be helpful in creating a brand name, but is that enough?

To understand the thought behind HappyTrips, its business strategy and vision, e27 spoke to its Business Head Puneet Gupt.

What was the idea behind launching Happytrips?
Today, there are lots of sites that help you buy tickets and book trips, but there aren’t great portals that help introduce you and guide you through planning a vacation. HappyTrips offers a really approachable way to discover things that go in deciding where to plan a trip and how to make the most of it.

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But can it succeed only on the basis of the content it provides?
Yes, content will continue to remain our key value proposition and differentiator. That being said, our back-end architecture allows us to handle a scale of content that most properties can’t handle, and you’ll see us covering hundreds of cities soon because of it. On HappyTrips, you may find the similar content available in other places, but organised in such a way that it’s easy to digest, save, bookmark and visualise.

You say content is your strength. What makes it so different?
We have an editorial team that is authoring and curating content. We also have a network of travel bloggers and partners who regularly contribute experiential travel content to HappyTrips. Our aim is to represent the most authoritative views on an attractions/restaurant/hotel, etc. through self, curated and syndicated content. Also, our platform encourages user reviews and highlights the best ones alongside editorial content.

You are directly competing with websites such as HolidayIQ and Antfarm’s Arrive. What is your take?
HolidayIQ and other sites are highly data and UGC-centric (user generated content). We are heavily built around structured data too, but we offer a magazine like feel and content with a soul. Users look for a voice that can guide them and help them take decisions and that’s where HappyTrips comes in.

Please take us through your business model.
Aggregating audiences interested in planning a vacation is a valuable audience set. We think travel destinations and travel vendors will advertise, and we’ll be introducing some cutting-edge advertising vehicles to ensure that the ads don’t become blind spots. At some point, we may integrate a booking engine, but we’re centered more on the discovery experience, rather than transaction right now.

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Please map out your core TG.
HappyTrips targets the travel enthusiast irrespective of demographics. We cover close to 200 destinations in India and another 100 across the world. Our goal is to help users decide where to travel next and make the best of it when they travel. We aim to quickly expand our content to cover the most popular travel destinations across the world.

Do you plan to open up for funding?
We’ve got a solid backing from Times Internet, so not really looking at the moment.

Featured and Lead Image Courtesy: HappyTrips