TransferTravel is a peer-to-peer marketplace designed to help people sell their unwanted tickets and reservations to travelers looking for bargains.
Speaking with PhocusWire, founder and CEO Simon Powell discusses TransferTravel's relationships with OTAs and insurance companies, how the company fills a genuine need in the travel market and more.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
The easiest way to describe our business and tech is to say
that we aspire to be the "eBay of travel." We are a web-based marketplace
platform where people who have unwanted pre-booked and nonrefundable travel,
holidays, accommodation or tickets can use us to recoup some of their money.
Sellers will list their product on our site including the original cost and a
preferred price (buyers can make offers).
Sellers are encouraged to fill out profiles, with photos and
the reason for being unable to travel. TransferTravel.com will then verify that
all bookings are genuine. The responsibility for the cost and administration of
any name changes falls on the vendor.
Bargain holidaymakers can come to our site to find some
great deals. TransferTravel.com operates on a no-sale, no-fee basis, only
collecting a 15% fee when a successful transfer is made.
What inspired you to create this company?
A painful relationship breakup left me with a romantic
holiday for two to Dubai. It was burning a serious hole in my pocket - as it
was worth 3,000 pounds and was something I no longer needed. I could
get some money back for the flights, but I couldn’t cancel the hotel package,
which I had prepaid for.
The hotel receptionist gave me the idea that I could
find someone else to take my booking - they would allow my reservation to be
transferred. But, due to the absence of an efficient platform for people to
sell their unwanted travel, I had no luck.
But I thought that I could create the first online
marketplace dedicated to travelers who want to sell their unwanted but
nonrefundable flights, accommodation and cruises.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: We are a small, young and nimble
team. There is genuine need for a company like ours as we grew to over 100,000
users within the first 18 months without any advertising budget!
- Weaknesses: Education is key! As we are an innovate company, which allowed us to find the gap in a market and create an opportunity, it’s all
about awareness. So educating the world on their options and rights will take
time, but we have a dedicated team and plan to get this implemented.
- Opportunities: Working with travel booking sites and the insurance industry will
potentially provide a significant increase in listings, as they are both
overwhelmed with millions of cancelation requests for nonrefundable travel
- Threats: Being able to fulfill demand quickly enough.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Research has found that 200,000 hotel rooms are wasted in the United States each year, and a lot of them are prepaid, and an estimated $40 billion of prebooked and unused travel is wasted annually worldwide.
We can prevent a lot of wasted airline seats and beds - and help ensure that local communities don’t miss out on the benefits of holidaymakers due to cancellations.
Moreover, TransferTravel.com’s own research has found that
42% of consumers have had to cancel a trip at some point, due to
illness (42%), family emergency (26%), breakup (17%), work (11%) or financial
difficulties (11%). Many of these reasons are not covered by insurance.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of
We have ambitious plans for growth and an objective to
secure over a million users by the end of 2018, and we are looking at a number of
different avenues to do this. We are
looking to form partnerships with insurance companies - who will recommend
TransferTravel.com if a claim is not valid - and online travel agencies.
One well-known OTA has
told us they experience 4,000 cancellations a day. We can prevent a lot of
wasted airline seats and beds - and help ensure that local communities don’t
miss out on the benefits of holidaymakers due to cancellations.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
I have not created the genuine need for our company - there
was a gap there and I’m helping to fill it. One of the biggest processes we
need to go through is to educate the public that 80% of travel is
Thanks to the liberalization of the Package Travel Regulations,
transferring a package holiday has just gotten easier - as of July 1 - and I am
hoping that the Civil Aviation Authority review into airline terms and
conditions will also ensure that all airlines will have to ensure that name
changes are allowed.
Currently, most charter airlines and no-frills airlines
allow name changes for a fee, but that’s not the case of the big legacy
carriers such as British Airways.
How and when will you make money?
We have been fortunate to secure two rounds of funding.
Money-wise, we are post-revenue now, but we will not look to make a profit for
the next three years, as we are investing all our money back into our business to
support the tech and staff for the anticipated growth.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
I set up the company by myself, and I previously worked in
affiliate marketing and set up several lead-generating sites. Before that I
worked in marketing and sales for regional radio and telecommunications companies.
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What's been the most difficult part of founding the business
I have lived in the Isle of Man for eight years, and while
we have offices in London and San Francisco, our headquarters are here in the Isle of
Travelling to meetings, recruiting staff and raising funds from here have
probably been my main challenges, but I love it here and will always live here, but our staffing has to be focused in the London and San Francisco office now.
Generally, travel startup’s face a fairly tough time making
an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
There is a genuine need for us. No one is solving this
problem, and when the world’s largest booking sites are wanting to partner with
us, it proves there is a huge gap in the marketing.
to learn more about our profiling of new travel companies and how to apply.