sonu sood

Indian actor Sonu Sood. (publicity photo)

MUMBAI — Travel Union, India’s first rural B2B travel tech platform and a Sonu Sood initiative, was launched Aug. 27 to democratize travel services by providing a platform to Travel Union members (travel agents) towards serving the travel needs of rural customers at every district, block and gram panchayat level.

With a mission to support, digitally empower and build a leading travel agent business community in rural India at zero investment, Travel Union aims to be the largest rural digital travel services platform serving the 1 billion population.

At the rural level, the travel sector has been largely unorganized with no player focusing on the needs of Indians in tier-2 towns and villages. Travel Union addresses multiple unfulfilled needs of rural travel agents, small business owners and enterprises, called Travel Union members, the primary one being the absence of travel-tech platforms designed for rural travel at the core.

The platform aggregates all available price options for a particular offering and shows Travel Union members the lowest prices they can offer their customers. It also allows for online cancellations and refunds, eliminating the long wait customers usually have to endure. Members enjoy the benefit of earning high margins due to direct booking options available with multiple travel service partners, a press release said.

Travel Union provides the best inventory, competitive prices, and state-of-the-art technology directly from airlines, railways, hotels, trips, wholesalers and aggregators, it added. It is a one-stop shop to travel agents across India’s hinterlands offered through an app and web portal, making it the first super-aggregator platform to meet the needs of the rural customer. The platform will give access to all trains operating in India through IRCTC, over 500 domestic and international flights, over 10,000 bus operators and 10 lakh-plus hotels to its members and consumers.

Travel Union will augment the income and growth opportunities for existing travel agents, offer an additional and steady stream of income for small business owners, provide new business opportunities for the entrepreneur and create a network of reliable Travel Union members to assist the rural consumers, the release notes.

The on-boarding of Travel Union members will require zero investment from them and there is no recurring cost after on-boarding.

On the occasion of the launch, Sood said, “During the lockdowns, I had first-hand experience of the challenges that rural Indians face when it comes to travel as well as the struggles of small business owners. The lack of tailored offerings catering to the needs of Bharat and addressing digital needs of rural citizens stayed with me. In fact, currently rural consumers have no option to pre-plan their travel and have to run to multiple operators for different kinds of travel needs. I envisioned Travel Union so that we can remove all barriers to travel and give an entrepreneurial opportunity to anyone in the nation who wants to start a career in travel industry.”

He adds, “Travel Union, a B2B travel tech platform catering to rural travel agents, is an important initiative that enables them to provide the best of travel offerings to their localities. It can be an additional source of income for existing rural entrepreneurs or a building block for aspiring ones. While I have already taken steps to offer employment opportunities to Indian youth, Travel Union furthers my dream of bringing self-employment opportunities to the hinterlands of India, so the rural youth can develop their local economies without having to migrate to urban cities.”

The actor concludes, “This super aggregator app is the future of travel management, eliminating the need for multiple platforms, thus offering 360-degree travel solutions in one place. It is the first and only Indian platform designed to help rural travel agents launch a profitable and successful business venture.”

Travel Union is presently available in English and Hindi. It is soon-to-be launched in 11 more Indian languages. New and upcoming offerings on the platform also will include domestic and international holiday packages, visa services, forex services as well as travel/ luggage accessories. The App is available to download on Google Play store.

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