Those days are passÃ© when one would rummage through travel guide books and frequent travel operatorâ€™s offices for travel tips, advice, and bookings before embarking on a holiday. With a bevy of travel booking sites, travel enthusiasts have found a new travel guide. FarInto is one such latest start-up in the online social travel space that is looking to cut above the rest by offering differential travel experiences.
FarInto is an online travel website that is interwoven with the social media platform and offers information on not just the usual travel destinations, but also the relatively unexplored ones, the roads less travelled as well as unique travel experiences across four countries, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Nepal. For instance, a quick search on the state of Jodhpur in Rajasthan will pop up not just the usual suspects but also the must-do activities like dune bashing, an off-roading experience amidst the sand dunes. The model is entirely based on community recommendations. A social network of travel enthusiasts will recommend places, discuss and respond to queries.
On what sets FarInto apart from the other travel sites based on reviews and recommendations, Dilshad Master, Founder, FarInto says that unlike other online travel sites, which require people to state their preferred destinations and holiday spots, FarInto only asks for the country that people are interested in and the type of holiday; adventure, treks, and so on.Â She further adds that eventually, the site will be able to be accessed only through a facebook or a twitter login, with no other ad-hoc email. It digs out some of the best written blogs on various destinations and puts them together to help consumers make informed decisions.
However, the core premise on which the website claims to be different is that it directly connects the traveller with the travel operator with its growing network of SMEâ€™s that are plugged into the system. Based on community recommendations and reviews, it offers the top three travel operators to the customer. Having launched in mid-July, it has 25 SMEâ€™s on board at present and there are targets to reach 1,400 operators in India, 150 in Bhutan and Nepal, and around 105 in Sri Lanka, in a span of three years.
In terms of competition, while journeymart and travelmasti are the other strong players from a travel exploration perspective, Master sees no Indian counterpart who offers both unique travel experiences and booking option. Internationally, she terms social travel site gogobot as its closest competitor.
FarInto currently offers around 3,500 travel experiences across the four countries, a number that it plans to increase to 5,000 by the month end. While Phase I will focus on these four countries, Phase II will see FarInto extend to other emerging economies like Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and more.
But with so many travel sites already, how is FarInto looking to market itself and drive awareness? According to Master, word of mouth and digital media are the only two platforms that FarInto will be using for marketing and advertising. While the first year will focus primarily on the social media space with digital campaigns and contests on social media, the second year will see digital advertising on lifestyle sites and news sites. Television and print are certainly not on the radar for now and according to Master, are very limited in scope and are a short term marketing exercise.