Idea to Explore: Destination Time Table

Travel industry is centered around attractions for which tourists come to a destination. Transportation industry helps people reach the destination, hospitality industry provides a temporary parking place but it is the attractions that bring people to the destination. Some destinations are natural – like mountains, beaches, rivers or deserts while others are man made – museums, performances, religious places, old heritage sites etc.

Most man made and some natural attractions follow a time table – as in they are open for certain times and closed at others. Most museums are open during the day time and are usually closed once a week – the day differs from place to place. Some attractions may also close during certain times of the year like national parks. Quite a lot of tourists spend a lot of time and money on reaching the destination to realize that the attraction they came for is closed.

A small mobile application / website with simple listing of all the attractions and their open and close timings and any special requirements like dress code or special rules can be listed. A simple search and display should help the user do micro-planning of their trip. Some additional information can be added like

  • Any special notices of disruption of regular services can be provides e.g. if some attraction is under renovation and not open for a period or a natural attraction that is cut off because of things like landslides
  • Ticket prices wherever applicable can be displayed
  • Best time to visit
  • Any objective information that helps people plan their visits better

Key success factor for this application would be authenticated and dependable data. Data collection will have to be done personally or sourced from credible sources. May be a date stamp on the date the data was updated would help users cross check if the data is dated.

Since this is a content based business, the revenue model would come from advertising.  Hyper local reach of the model should make it very viable for the players of tourism industry. For example someone checking out attractions in South Delhi may be interested in a link like this: Book hotels in Gurgaon at Thinkhotels.com and may get the best reach for their marketing money spent. Similarly local taxi service providers, restaurants and other service providers would be interested in reaching out to potential customers who are about to visit in the vicinity.

The model is very similar to what Zomato does for food, though it would have to be adopted for this vertical niche. If a user generated layer can be added or not – needs to be thought through or rather experimented with but what one can definitely do is let users point out any anomalies in the data that you have posted.

I would love to see this in action – and I promise to be the first user of this app, if you build it.

ITE – Mobile App for fare for Local Transportation

Local transportation fares are variable in India, even when there are meters are there, fares are regulated. When you reach a city, specially at the railway stations and bus stands auto drivers, taxi drivers, rickshaw drivers demand what they think they can extract out of you. On metered vehicles also, they tend to take you through a round about route when you do not know the way. This is a big hassle for travelers to the city.

If a small mobile application can tell them rough fare between two points in a city based on the mode of transportation. So if I need to go from railway station to a locality – it can give me a comparative fare for various option – bus / metro / cab / auto or a combination thereof with the approximate fare and time they would take. This can be referred to by the travelers while moving around in a new place. This would also help check unfair fares asked by the transportation providers.

Next stage could be live status of public transportation on the move.

This would need integration with public systems that fix the rates for transportation.

For revenue options, the transportation players can advertise their products and services. A small application download fee can also be charged from the users.

A lot more thought needs to go into it, but this is something that Indian cities need.

 

ITE – App for Meeting Resolutions

Thought of Idea came when a FB friend said that it was just yesterday that we celebrated new year and its March already. All the resolutions we made have been forgotten though. Made me think of why do people loose focus on the resolutions that they make every year. Can technology and /or social media apps help them keep the focus on? And the answer is potentially yes. Technology can do two things

  1. Keep reminding the person of the goal, let them not forget it
  2. Create a public / peer pressure on them by making them commit to the resolution trackable by their friends online ( this has to be optional of course)

Let me take an example of something that I think is the most common resolution: Say a lady has made a resolution to eat healthier and hence loose weight. With a combination of SMS / E-Mail / Tweet / FB update she can be reminded on a weekend morning to go shop for fruits and vegetables for the week. On a daily basis she can be reminded of drinking 8 glasses of water, of eating the fruit at 11:00 AM, go for a walk. There can be some kind of tracking saying that you have not done this or you have done this well that can be shared with the family and friends. If people are inspired that inspires her back. A feature can be built to add sub-resolutions to the main resolution e.g. now that I have started eating fruits, I want to start doing Yoga, now that my Yoga routine is set, I want to do swimming on weekends.

Revenue Model – I think if designed well, people would be willing to buy the App, there may be ad revenue of complimentary products. I have not done the calculations of  financial model, so some thinking is required there.

My inspiration for this idea came from the website Ohlife.com , that helped me write a daily diary, something I did not achieve ever in my life inspite of keeping a diary next to my bed. Since the day I signed up with them, I have not missed writing my diary. So, some reminders, some nudging helps till it becomes a routine, a ritual for you.

 

ITE – Indian version of Family Tree Portal

I have been a member of MyHeritage portal for more than two years now and have been observing it very keenly. They started with a small family tree application with limited functionality, but have added many features since then. It now lets you update photographs, reminder for birthdays and anniversaries send gifts on special occasions and join the dots with other family trees in the system. It even gives you the statistics of the family like gender ratio, relationship status, distribution by places, age, Zodiac signs  etc. It even allows you to integrate your DNA tests.

Basic functionality is that it lets you create an extended family tree, a job that the Pandas in Haridwar used to do when they maintained the family logs. I think an online version will do wonders as our families get spread across the globe. All said and done there are lot of things that we still restrict to the family like small rituals and functions, sometimes even bigger ones like marriages. Sometimes we need to announce changes in the family like deaths or new additions without really making an explicit statement. All our family members may not be connected to us on our social networking co-ordinates.

Customization for India would involve:

  • Ability to identify relationship by Indian names. We do have a defined name for most relationships.
  • Now each region in India has different names for relationship like a Sister is called Didi, JiJi, Akka, Khala, Bahanji depending on various factors like age, religion, region – so you can provide the choice to choose the name used.
  • We have many relationships that are recognized by age – e.g. siblings or parents siblings
  • Lot of our festivals are relationships based like Rakhi and Karva Chauth, so identify those relationships and create an event that can do reminding or enhancing the experience like gifting or suggesting ways to engage.

Monetization:

  • Advertising can be a source but you can never rely on it
  • Tie up with gifting companies, medical insurance companies
  • Matrimonial verification services – yes, they are very valued and people would be willing to pay for it. In fact Matrimonial websites may ask for the family tree id to verify the details
  • A sub category could be finding matches as well in the intended families
  • Printing of yearly family pictures in form of calendars / picture books / travelogues
  • Customized merchandize for the family
  • Customized gifts for occasions like weddings and birthdays
  • Preventive measures based on family medical history ( Ok, this is far stretched…)
  • Of course there can be free / paid & premium accounts

I am sure this idea can be developed further. I think it has a huge market potential because of the importance that we still attach to the families.

Would be happy to hear from anyone who is willing to explore this idea.

ITE – Online Experience Gifting

The concept of gifting and the nature of gifts has changed over time. When we were kids, we wanted games and clothes, when we were teenagers it was all about greeting cards, then came the age of flowers and chocolates, then books and now you have to really think hard to find a gift for most people. The current trend is moving towards gifting experiences as with reasonable levels of affluence people often like to choose their own stuff. Gift vouchers are there, but they are very impersonal and formal, they are like saying take this money and buy yourself whatever you want – works for formal relationships.
Experience gifting can be personal gift, tailor made for the person and the occasion to make the receiver feel special or gift them something that they may not buy for themselves. Let me give you some examples:
  • Gift your parents a luxury dinner on their birthdays / anniversary. Have them picked up from home, dinner served and dropped back. Yo should be able to design it sitting anywhere with your favorite restaurant and have it delivered on the given date.
  • Gift your better half a spa treatment at the best spa in town
  • Gift your amateur photograph friend a photography workshop by best known photographer
  • Gift a culinary workshop as a wedding gift to your friends
  • Gift a custom designed treasure hunt to all the kids at a family gathering
  • Gift a custom made vacation to your friends / family
Ideas are infinite.
Can you setup a website, that will let people gift experiences in collaboration with the service providers of these gifts? If you think it is a good idea, talk to me.