Tripedge is a UK-based consumer-to-agent referral service, which first featured on Tnooz in March 2011 [TLabs Showcase - Tripedge].
So what happened in the intervening 12 months?
Are you making money yet?
No, but with the recent overhaul of all the code under the hood of the website, to make it faster, easier to use and more search engine friendly, we are seeing an upsurge in the number of UK holidaymakers filling in the holiday search request form to get holiday quotes.
In the last seven days we have had 36 holiday enquiries to destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and further a field with enquiries for Sri Lanka and Thailand holidays.
What has been the biggest problem – building the product/service or marketing it to consumers/travel industry?
Marketing the service to travel agents and getting them onboard has been the biggest problem and that still continues.
Travel agents in the UK don’t seem to want to sign up (for free) and buy the travel leads generated by TripEdge. We have changed the business model from a £99 monthly subscription service to a pay-per-lead (PPL) service that costs between £1-£10 a lead.
We don’t think the problem is only with selling travel leads, we believe that it is a problem with selling any type of lead generation service, but there has been some good news this week, with Direct Traveller (North Cyprus Holidays Specialist) and Pure Turkey (Turkey Holidays Specialist) signing up to the service.
Consumers, by the way, seem to love the service as we are getting more and more enquiries on a daily basis.
Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?
That we could build a profitable business in 12-months, but what we didn’t realise was that building any type of business in the UK at the moment, let alone a travel startup, would be very hard from the outset.
Also building a business that caters to two different groups like holidaymakers and travel agents is more than twice as hard to build.
Is your current customer base as predicted?
No, but we are getting more and more customers on a daily basis, before Christmas 2011 we had about one or two customers a day on average, but now we are getting five to seven customers each day and this month (March) we hope to break 100 holiday customers in a single month.
Did you achieve your 12-month goals? If not, why not?
No, getting travel agents to sign up is very hard and we completely over estimated the amount of holiday customers we would have in 2011.
We hoped for 100,000 customers, but we only had just over 250 customers in the six-month period since we launched on 1 June 2011.
Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?
No, we still feel that searching for a holiday online is very time consuming and fraught with problems.
Travel agents are professionals who are experts at finding good holiday deals and knowing about holiday destinations around the globe, so we still want holidaymakers to think about booking with an independent travel agent, instead of booking their holiday on a do-it-yourself website, where there is no interaction with a travel agent.
Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think "Ah, wish we had done that!"?
Pinterest, the online pinboard, it is a nice simple idea, is well executed and has a great uncluttered interface. It is also one of the most talked about startups in recent months.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
Save more money to be able to self-fund the business for more than a year, as making a profit can take years. Airbnb for example has spent the last three years trying to build traction and it is only in the last 6-months that it has been making money.
NB: Tnooz launched TLab Showcase in March 2010, a dedicated channel to give startups in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector an opportunity to explain their vision, company background and strategy to a wider audience.
As well as publishing an elevator pitch-type questionnaire for each business, Tnooz committed to following up with each startup after 12 months or so to see how well (or not) each performed.
NB2: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.