Urban Adventures is a Thailand-based tour and activity platform, which first featured on Tnooz in April 2011 [TLabs Showcase - Urban Adventures].
So what happened in the intervening 12 months?
Are you making money yet?
Sure. We are a travel company first who is trying to leverage the benefits of technology as opposed to a tech company trying to leverage travel.
We have our own products and have sold over 65,000 seats to date. This calendar year alone we should take 60,000 passengers so we have money coming in.
What has been the biggest problem – building the product/service or marketing it to consumers/travel industry?
We are really happy with the product the customer ends up with. Over 95% of travellers say they will travel again and recommend us to friends so we have great validation on the end product.
We are so confident in the actual travel experience that we guarantee it for the customer. The way we convey ourselves to direct customers we are probably less happy with. Our site was brought together in a quick to market kind of way.
We have a slick CMS and a great in-house affiliate system but the user experience of those coming to our site and the fact our site doesn’t yet conform to mobile or tablet views is an issue we are aware of and are addressing.
Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?
Having an API = getting lots of great sales.
Our experience to date is that those capable of taking our API, by and large don’t have the customer base to make sales at volume and those that can’t take an API into their own systems and instead send word document templates that they then manually load into their system, in general make great sales (the tour industry is generally lagging when it comes to best practice online distribution).
We thought introducing new online distribution tools would be a big hit ….but it just isn’t at this stage.
We set up for low admin and the business hasn’t panned out that way which of course slows everything else down.
Is your current customer base as predicted?
Pretty much. We’ve got some surprising cut through into some markets we hadn’t anticipated like the middle class in the Philippines and Indonesia and is a nice surprise. Locals travelling on tours, particularly in the States, have also probably been more successful than we had anticipated.
Did you achieve your 12 month goals? If not, why not?
We have very aggressive goals so we didn’t hit them all but the ones with the greatest weight such as passengers travelled, we hit.
Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?
Not really. The day tour market is still really fragmented. More and more, aggregators are filling those gaps but there is still no other brand that is out there offering the fun, uniqueness, consistency and experience we have, across a wide geographical reach.
Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think “Ah, wish we had done that!”?
New Europe is in many ways the elephant in the room in the day tour/activities business. They are probably over 12 months old but came onto our radar in the past 12 months as we penetrated into Europe.
I don’t "wish we had done that" but I love the pure innovation of thought that has created a new business model and from what we can see, a new economy in the activity sector.
They seem to be getting $5-$20 out of people who used to just walk around by themselves. I’d love to sit in a room where someone pitched the idea of giving their product away for free and revenue model of getting your staff to pay to come to work!
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
I think we all have things we spend way too much time and effort on that never get where you hoped they would get to.
I’d like to email my past self that list, although you learn something in every one of those instances so it’s never a total bust.
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.