Travel content business Simonseeks will mark almost two years in business by closing down, blaming a lacklustre response from consumers to paying for editorial content.
The company today has notified writers contributing to the site that it has spent recent weeks evaluating the validity of the company's business model, but has been forced to concede that Simonseeks is "simply not viable".
The letter says:
"Consumers are not currently ready to pay for professionally-written travel content online and the amounts generated through hotel bookings and page impressions are not significant enough."
Revenue was gained through affiliate relationships with suppliers and metasearch engines, and advertising on the site.
Simonseeks captured the attention from the off, primarily because it was backed by Simon Nixon, brainchild of metasearch site TravelSupermarket (and parent company MoneySupermarket).
Its promise of a new revenue opportunity for travel writers (submit content, take a cut of revenue depending on traffic etc) came as many journalists debated the ongoing lack of lucrative writing opportunities on the web as commissions from mainstream media continued to dry up.
The first solid warning signs that the business was struggling came in late-March when six people were made redundant from the company, around half the total headcount.
Four weeks later and Nixon has admitted that despite a number of last-ditch marketing efforts, including a TV advertising campaign, the game is up.
He wrote today:
"Over the course of the last few months the Simonseeks team has been working round the clock in order to drive the commercial side of the business.
"As you will be aware, this has included the investment of substantial marketing time and expertise together with a significant financial commitment in launching television advertising together with many other online and offline initiatives."
The site will be closed to new editorial content immediately and the company wound down, Nixon says.
"This is not a decision that has been made lightly and is made with the regret of all of the Simonseeks team members who have made every effort to make the business a success."
Similar to his previous business, Nixon brought in brother Chris to work alongside him as commercial director, only for the sibling to quit in August last year after just 12 months, eventually emerging as boss of the travel division for metasearch site Kelkoo.
In an email statement, Nixon says his funding for the Simonseeks project will cease but "some of our management team are currently discussing how they can continue to operate on a smaller scale".
"Many of our experts have already shown an interest in this model as they see Simonseeks as a valuable showcase for their knowledge and work."
Nixon says he hopes the site will eventually continue in some form as it has been an "extremely interesting project to be part of", despite struggling to get the traction required.
SimonEscapes, another Nixon project focusing on travel property rentals, will continue. He also remains executive deputy chairman of MoneySupermarket.