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Online travel bookings make it a lot easier to choose between different airlines, hotels and make your bookings quickly, but—unlike offline travel agencies—there can’t be much suggestion or advice about your trip.

Travel desk: Yellowleg

Now, Bangalore-based start-up MyGola has introduced a new form of travel search that offers users the best of both worlds. At heart, MyGola is a pay-what-you-want travel concierge service. They have hired researchers; users can seek travel advice, and will get a reply within 24 hours. If users don’t want to pay, then they can only ask one question. But if they pay minimum $1 (around 52), they can ask a second question, and so on.

For example, one user on the site asked about wildlife photography workshops near Delhi on weekends; another wanted to know where to catch good jazz performances in Goa.

The answers given on the site are backed up with sources such as the Lonely Planet, as well as Internet-based searches, and the links checked are also given with the answer.

People who don’t have the time or the patience to plan their holiday by working through pages of Google results could find the service useful.

Anshuman Bapna, who started and sold his start-up RightHalf when he was studying at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, co-founded MyGola in 2009. The company has recently received $1 million in venture funding. Bapna says it plans to use these funds to increase the number of international researchers. Eighty researchers, who are paid per task, are being added every day. Most of them are from India at the moment.

MyGola

Yellowleg’s owner and founder is former software developer Aashish Gupta. When he moved back to India from the US five years ago, he found it hard to find travel books—book stores only kept a few titles, making it hard to find anything different.

He says, “I would have to order online and face high shipping charges, so I decided to set up a facility in India that offered more than the run-of-the-mill guidebooks." Yellowleg allows you to trade in your travel books for store credit, which can be used to buy new books.

Aside from this, Gupta also offers his services as a researcher for travel.

If you purchase books worth 599, you can ask five questions; for 999, you can ask up to 10 questions. “We archive many articles from various sources, besides which we have access to many travel books from where we pull out this information," says Gupta.

As with MyGola, again, the questions could range from fairly simple—“What are the different places I can take my children to in London?"—to ones that are harder to answer, such as a list of places in Kenya that are accessible to senior citizens.

Ask a Nomad all try and redefine online travel sites as expert Q& A forums

Of course, sometimes even waiting a day can be a problem. If you’re travelling within India and need an answer rightaway, check online forums.

Established ones such as IndiaMike are reliable. The forum is largely an expat’s guide to India, and you’ll get some extremely detailed information about most tourist locations in the country. If you need to ask a new question, though, it might take some time to get an answer, unlike services like MyGola and Yellowleg, which aim to answer questions in 24 hours or less.

gopal.s@livemint.com

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