TLabs Showcase - AirlikesNewsBy Kevin May | November 15, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring France-based travel search site Airlikes.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Airlikes.com is an air travel information and reviews website. With more than 1,400 airlines and over 4,000 airports worldwide available, we allow our visitors to find information and share their experiences of their flights or experiences at airports.Our users can easily write their opinions of the airline on which they traveled or the airport from where they took off.I am Nicolas Pellier and live in Paris. I studied the hospitality and tourism industry for four years before specializing in revenue management. I then worked at the cargo revenue management department of an international airline and at the european pricing department of a non-tourism industry company.I co-founded a communications agency that gave me the opportunity to find out more about another part of marketing and also to acquire experience in running a small company. I also have technical interest in web programmatic languages (html, php, sql and database management,…).What financial support did you have to launch the business?The main financial support I have is my savings.What problem are you trying to solve?Airlines and airports are often the first step of a trip and an important part of the holiday’s budget, it is thus important to know the airline we will be flying or to avoid some of them before booking a trip (Which airline is worth flying? Which airline provide the best onboard service? …)Being in an airport is sometimes stressful for some travelers, particularly when they are huge. It can be appreciable to get experiences, advices and tips (what is the cheapest or fastest way to get to the city from the airport? ...) from others about an airport in order to have the best and stress-free experience in airports and to begin a trip serenely.Airlikes.com is an easy-understanding, user-friendly, participatory and easy-to-browse website that is trying to gather air travel experiences of any kind.Describe the business, core products and services?The site is divided into three main parts: Airlines: where we can find all information about a specific airline and where users can read and write reviews about the quality of service, feeling of security and more generally about the flight in its entirety. The latest airline industry news are also part of the package.Airports: visitors can read reviews from other travelers and write their own about the quality of service and the airport's general experience from arrival at the airport to boarding the aircraft, find and suggest ground transportation tips to/from the airport. Visitors can also find information about their location (map), ICAO or IATA codes, brief information about the country, real-time weather conditions and local time and main airlines.Travel search: this is the commercial part of the site. Airlikes provides a powerful price comparison service for hotels and flights that searches all major travel websites and compares rates.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Our key users are people travelling, using airlines and airports and willing to share their experiences, advices and tips.It can be frequent travelers who have been flying with many airlines and can become experts on the site or occasional travelers who just have experienced an airline once and would like to tell us about this trip or looking for information and feedback from others about an airline they’ve never heard of.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Yes, the idea to create a website focusing on air travel came when some friends or people I spoke with often asked me how to know which airline was worth flying, if there was a website particularly dedicated to answer that question.I knew some websites reviewing hotels and accommodations, but I wasn’t able to name any reviewing airlines. After some investigations, I realized that there wasn’t many websites that allow visitors to share their experience about airlines, and the ones that already exist weren’t designed as I would have imagined.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?The site is free to join and to participate. The site has three sources of revenue: advertising, flights search engine and hotels search engine which are two different affiliate programs. Both are based on a per-lead revenue.A third car rental affiliate program would be added in the coming months, depending on the traffic growth.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Being a website entirely dedicated to air travel.Being such a small company (which is also a weakness, see below) allows great reactivity, decisions are taken very fast. Weaknesses: Being such a small company with limited budget to communicate.Having people participate and write reviews at launch of the site is a challenge. Opportunities: Airline reviews searches are increasing since a couple of years.Price is not the only factor in choosing an airline. People need more and more information about the service provided by an airline, the safety, the comfort and all things that help them avoid an air-travel nightmare. Threats: Fake reviews made by some dubious companies/persons that can tarnish users’ trust in Airlikes. We’ll do our best to detect them and erase them.Everything goes so fast on the Internet, and everything can happen creating more or less threats.Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?Nobody told me that but some people warned me it wouldn’t be an easy work to make it become a success, but I was aware of that.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Growth of participation, metric based on a number of per-day contributions; increase of the number of community members and increase of loyalty to airlikes, this would indicate a real interest in air travel reviews.Increase of turnover from advertising and affiliate programs, this will be directly related to traffic growth.NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.