|What problem are you solving?||Traditional travel agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with larger online travel providers for new business.|
With clients becoming time poor and more web-savvy, traditional travel agents now need to fund an online presence involving web optimisation, SEO, PPC, or digital #marketing initiatives which can be costly and impact operating expenses. For the traveller a lack of centralised online travel content and personalised online customer service makes it difficult for travelers to research and book tailored travel online.
Time poor travelers do not have time to liaise with numerous travel agents for the best deal, nor do they want to be hassled for their business.
|What is your solution?||Tripbooka.com.au is an online platform that connects travellers with travel agents during the travel research and booking process. The centralised Tripbooka platform allows travellers to seamlessly and anonymously submit all components of their desired trip in one place and gives them access to professional travel providers.Once submitted, the Tripbooka platform invites travel providers to quote and compete for these trips. Uniquely, Tripbooka enables two-way communication between the traveller and the agent before any personal details are required.|
|Why is this a great opportunity?||Tripbooka isn’t pushing pre-packaged holidays – everything is tailored to individual needs.|
Tripbooka doesn’t have preferred suppliers: It is a totally transparent and impartial online platform in which travellers can compare and select both the right products as well as the right travel agent to make their bookings. Mobility and flexibility: 24/7 anywhere, any time. More control and choice to travelers. Tripbooka does the legwork not the client.
|Target Market||Semi Professionals – mostly females (24-34 years)|
Small Young Family – Urbanites (between 28-40 years)
Parents of the Gen-Y (pre retirement)The market Tripbooka is operating in is a new market in itself. In a rapidly changing industry plagued by information overload, travel agents are often competing with the consumers for destination information.Typically the consumer is price sensitive and sees the traditional travel agent as a more expensive method of booking a trip. However there is still public concern regarding the security of online booking platforms, Tripbooka addresses this concern.Ultimately, there is no denying that the travel industry, like most other industries at this time, is driven by the end-user. Like the retail sector, the travel industry can also utilize online to keep track of consumer trends and preferences, and improve products and services to meet these evolving needs.
|How will you make money?||Tripbooka’s main source of revenue will be a percentage for creating the lead for the agent. Ultimately the revenue model has opportunity to grow and adapt into more streams when the site is properly launched and more integration has been done.|
|Founders Names||Luke Crawford|
|What type of funding has the company received||Bootstrapped/self funded|
Despite massive competition between online travel services, it can still be a pain in the ass to get a booking for exactly what you want (try booking a Premium Economy to San Francisco direct from Sydney, United is your only choice and you cant easily book it and its crap, worse than most other carriers economy class).
In my case trying to find the right trip a few months ago I ended up spending hours and checking about 10 online travel sites (most of them with differing results or ways of searching or displaying the data), with multiple windows launched per service. It was a bit of a nightmare.
So in my opinion there is a valid problem being solved. Despite all the automation booking travel is still an less than solved problem.
Given the massive uptake of online travel services, retail travel agents are being driven into specialist niches to survive, it seems unlikely that mainstream travel agents will survive in their existing form and number, the retail travel agent while still around is not as prevalent or as large as they used to be and even successful regional online travel players such as Wotif.com have found the competition so intense that they have decided to sell to larger competitors.
While I really like the idea of Tripbooka, given there are no automated results I would like to see a stated service level ie get your quote in 15 minutes, as a service level wasn’t obvious.
My other concern from a startup perspective is the cost per lead of this business is going to be pretty high, in another life I launched a mortgage comparison site that could review the majority of mortgages on the market in real time, match them to the users financial situation and process applications but I found the cost of generating leads so high it was tough to get a return. I imagine travel sites has similar cost of customer acquisition issues.
In my opinion the only way they are going to resolve this is beautiful daily travel content marketing.
The good news is that travel absolutely lends itself to this, you could write articles on travel destinations with gorgeous clickbait photos all day every day but it is a longer term process to generate consistent lead flow (think 6-12 months).
My biggest concern is the fact that this is an industry which is moving away from the travel agent model, so even though they might get major traction amongst the travel agents, the number of agents are reducing.
Once a upon a time in Business School they used to teach a seminal case study called #marketing myopia (published by HBR its very long but absolutely worth reading) which 50 years ago described what we now call the disruption of industries and talks about whole industries which were wiped from the face of the planet by massive disruptive change, below is an excerpt about the Buggy Whip manufacturers who were wiped from the face of the earth in very a short time when the car came into existence.
The classical example of this is the buggy whip industry. No amount of product
improvement could stave off its death sentence. But had the industry defined itself as
being in the transportation business rather than the buggy whip business, it might have
survived. It would have done what survival always entails, that is, changing. Even if it
had only defined its business as providing a stimulant or catalyst to an energy source, it
might have survived by becoming a manufacturer of, say, fan-belts or air cleaners.
So the lesson here for Tripbooka is perhaps being the most successful generator of leads for a flat or dying sector travel agents is not a great long term strategy.
Perhaps they should use this to gain traction initially but augment the travel agents with live data from other systems via APIs to be able to create immediate quote turn around and eventually become the agents themselves.
If they added API access to a booking engine to auto generate quotes or broker from another online solution they could also offer final review of your order by a certified travel agent with recommendations about how to reduce cost, improve the experience or any of the gotchas that you just can’t know about from an automated booking engine.