HomeInsideInterview: Alike's Ashish Sidhra On Transforming Travel Recommendations through Traveler-Influencer Connections

Interview: Alike’s Ashish Sidhra On Transforming Travel Recommendations through Traveler-Influencer Connections

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Speaking to TechGraph, Ashish Sidhra, Co-Founder of Alike discusses how the company is bridging the gap between travel content creators and travelers by providing a unique and personalized travel experience while empowering creators to earn income.

Read the complete interview:

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TechGraph: Alike seems to be making significant strides in the travel tech industry. Can you provide us with an overview of the company’s mission and the specific problem it aims to solve within the travel industry?

Ashish Sidhra: Alike is the world’s first creator economy-based platform for travel bookings that aims to establish a new way of sharing, discovering, planning, and monetizing bookable travel itineraries. Travel content creators are the main influencers for leisure travel bookings. People love sharing travel content, with 60% (97% of Millennial travelers) posting content about their trips on social media. This very content helps others decide where to travel, with 86% of users showing interest in a location after seeing user-generated content about it.

However, travel content creators lack the incentives and tools to monetize travel bookings. They do not have a platform that rewards them for the bookings they trigger. In the absence of revenue-sharing models in the travel sector, most content creators compete for a finite number of brand sponsorship deals.

On the other hand, about 60% of global travelers want brands to personalize their travel experience but are presented with a frustrating choice between cookie-cutter trips or semi-cooked AI. This results in travelers running low on trust in travel brands, high on FOMO-related stress, and spending a lot of time and effort researching, comparing, and booking their travel plans. Alike fills this massive gap in the market by connecting travelers with travel influencers through a one-stop-shop travel commerce platform to travel like the people they like.

TechGraph: In a world saturated with travel apps and platforms, what sets Alike apart from its competitors? How does the platform leverage technology to deliver a truly unique and personalized travel experience?

Ashish Sidhra: On the one hand Alike empowers Travel Content Creators to be Self-Reliant to earn their income:

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  • By offering personal studios for independent content creators to showcase their creativity by simplifying the way they create and publish their content.
  • Our no-code platform equips creators with a simple template-based drag-and-drop wizard to publish travel stories without technical knowledge.
  • Unlike other travel companies, Alike shares part of its booking revenues with content creators.
  • In addition, it offers content flexibility that allows insiders to load trip plans as photos, videos, or blogs. This allows them to reuse content from their other social handles.
  • Most importantly, Alike’s clever technology makes travel creators’ content bookable, helping them make money from their passion hassle-free.

On the other hand, Alike’s technological and business model innovation has enabled travelers to discover and get inspired on where to travel and what to do via the trip stories of their favorite content creators and then book the experiences in those very trip stories on the same platform, without any need to grind across multiple websites to book these experiences

TechGraph: How does Alike utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to tailor recommendations to individual users, and what data points or algorithms are used to create these personalized suggestions?

Ashish Sidhra: Alike is taking considered steps in utilizing the options presented by evolutions in AI and machine learning capabilities in recent months. We have started with features that use Large Language Model (LLM) based generative AI capabilities to help our content creator community in their creation and publishing activities.

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We are also experimenting with AI recommendation features for travelers. We have seen first-hand the limitations and risks this technology poses to our customers in an unsupervised setup. Therefore our immediate focus remains on introducing AI features as supporting tools to help travelers make better travel choices, instead of making sensational claims about the advent of an AI-driven travel nirvana.

TechGraph: Travelers often face information overload when planning their trips. How does Alike streamline the process and curate personalized travel itineraries based on individual preferences?

Ashish Sidhra: User convenience through design simplicity is a key hallmark of our product approach. We conduct a range of actions to ensure that our platform users get what they want. To facilitate user discovery and selection of the most appropriate itineraries and individual experiences, we have a fast itinerary search engine that enables users to simply type what they are looking for. We will launch LLM-based natural language search capabilities to make itinerary search conversational for our users.

Additionally, we use a wide range of filters, enabling users to customize their search according to their specific needs and preferences. For example, users can select itineraries suitable for families or couples. They can select itineraries that include specific experiences and tours or attractions. This is made possible due to the extensive content tagging done at the time of publishing the content.

We conduct regular user research to understand our users’ needs, expectations, and frustrations. Surveys, interviews, usability testing, heat mapping, and onsite analytics help us further refine our content discovery capabilities.

TechGraph: The travel industry is continuously evolving, and new trends and destinations emerge regularly. How does alike.io stay up-to-date with these changes and ensure that its recommendations reflect the latest travel experiences and destinations?

Ashish Sidhra: As a travel tech innovator, Alike prides itself on identifying emerging industry trends early. To ensure we do this consistently, we closely observe industry trends, especially among early adopters. For this, we continuously engage in user research and behavior analysis on our oebsites. We regularly participate in global travel conferences and exchange views with international travel experts on evolving themes.

Additionally, we experiment with cutting-edge technologies to understand and identify new use cases for them in the world of travel. With our forward-looking approach, we are looking forward to disrupting the travel industry status quo.

TechGraph: In today’s interconnected world, social media plays a significant role in travel inspiration and sharing experiences. How does alike.io integrate social media platforms or use social networks to enhance the travel recommendation process and foster a sense of community among users?

Ashish Sidhra: Social media has revolutionized the way people find travel inspiration and share their experiences. As a social travel marketplace, Alike promotes the use of social media in discovering and sharing travel experiences.

We see Alike as a complementary platform for users to discover and share travel inspirations on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and then book the same travel experiences on the Alike platform.

Our travel content creators act as a bridge between social media platforms and Alike. More often than not, they tend to have accounts on one or more social platforms. The travel experiences they post on their social handles are linked to bookable itineraries in their studios on Alike. For their followers, this enables a seamless experience of inspiration from social platform content. With a single click, transfer to the Alike platform to book a similar experience in real-time.

Similarly, Alike enables seamless review sharing on a range of social media platforms. So that the great travel moments enjoyed by our customers can be known to others and they can be inspired to explore the same experiences.

TechGraph: Privacy and data security are key concerns for users when utilizing online platforms. What measures does alike.io have in place to protect user data and ensure their privacy while delivering personalized travel recommendations?

Ashish Sidhra: At Alike, we approach data privacy from a user-centric, permission-driven perspective. Following appropriate client permissions, our service ethos and design architecture enable customer data for enhanced service delivery. Additionally, it is against our policy to exchange customer information for financial gain with outside parties.

Our security procedures adhere to both technological and procedural best practices from throughout the world. We consistently work to stay on top of the rapidly evolving security landscape. We embrace solutions suited to their intended use and our company’s requirements.

TechGraph: Looking ahead, what can we expect from Alike in terms of future developments and expansion? Are there any exciting features or partnerships on the horizon?

Ashish Sidhra: Alike aims to solve trusted travel personalization problems at scale, by empowering travel content creators to publish and earn from bookable trip stories. An issue that we believe cannot be left at the mercy of legacy online models or semi-cooked AI.

With several world-first innovations in the pipeline, we are looking forward to disrupting the travel industry status quo. As this consumer travel personalization needs become more and more pronounced over the coming years, Alike’s novel way of sharing, discovering, planning, and booking travel will become the de-facto way of consuming travel services.

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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder & Group Editor of TechGraph.
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