TLabs Showcase - Beach.comNewsBy Dennis Schaal | May 16, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based global travel services platform Beach.com.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Beach.com is a global media and travel destination website, providing highly customized beach destination searches, hotel and restaurant listings, travel booking, vacation rentals, real estate listings, activities and hyper-local content.The current live site is a temporary splash page gathering email addresses and providing contact information.The full site, launching this summer, has a completely different look, feel and navigation. Beach.com will have expert and user generated content as well as strategic social media integration.The vision is to be the most sought after travel site and mobile application, delivering superior content and innovative products. Steve Denker: Co-founder and COO – Various senior executive roles in business development, partnership management, strategic marketing, advertising and operations at both public and private companiesMichael Esposito: Co-founder and President – Founder and CEO of Ad-Vantage Media, led various consulting services, high level proficiency in online technologiesMark Scagliuso: Co-founder and CFO – CFO and advisory positions at both public and private companiesJoseph Esposito: Co-founder and Strategic Advisor – president and CEO of multiple public and private companiesWhat financial support did you have to launch the business?Our start-up capital raise and initial investment was secured internally.What problem are you trying to solve?Beach.com is a lifestyle portal for those who vacation or live by the beach.We are focused on providing the most localized beach destination content online – a one stop shop for millions of users each month to find the exact beach they’re looking for, perfect place to stay, most efficient transportation options, activities and attractions specific to their interests and feel for the culture and lay of the land.Users will search by type of beach destination, preferred travel distance, time and budget allotment and activities sought after. We will provide highly relevant information to users prior to making their vacation destination decisions.This will include the local perspective on the activities they may want to book, the hottest new hotels, top restaurants and insider knowledge of the best experiences available.Describe the business, core products and services?Beach.com’s mission is to be one of the world’s leading websites, providing highly customized beach destination searches, hotel and vacation booking, vacation rental and real estate listings, innovative products and expert content.Core products include: Exclusive Business Listings – a limited number of hotels and restaurants at each destination that will be featured on the destination home page, have direct contact and booking links, dynamic deal and offer updating, and participation in a joint "Marketing mutual fund", whereby Beach.com will promote these exclusive partners through online and offline campaigns.Beach.com Distributor Network – Identified local experts in every beach destination will become part of the distributor network, providing their local knowledge and expertise to users who are looking for detailed information and answers when planning a vacation. Our distributor will engrain Beach.com into the local culture, promote the destination through original and exclusive content, and be a point person for Beach.com’s presence at local events and activities.Sponsorship and Advertising – Beach.com will strategically integrate relevant sponsors to enhance the user experience and provide transactional results. Our airline partners will integrate specific fares and deals based on the users search path, with direct links to booking. Our hotel booking partners will display their beach destination inventory within a clean and simple design that will promote immediate reservations. Brands and services, be it beverage companies, apparel or pharmaceuticals will be targeted into the user path and destination results.Tourism board promotion – Tourism boards have the opportunity to specifically target population areas where they are looking to reach new customers.Social media integration – Beach.com has developed several products integrating ratings, reviews and recommendations to share. Subjective reviews will be vetted and listings partners will have the opportunity to address comments and share follow up actions. This will open up a two way dialog and promote objective decision making.Mobile application – Beach.com has several mobile products in development, providing itinerary management and location based & timed offers reflecting where the user is and who they are with.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Key customers: Premium hotel and resort properties, airlines, vacation rental property owners / management companies, beach destination real estate companies & realtors, restaurants, spas and activity companiesKey users: The 68 million users each month who type "beach" into GoogleDid you have customers validate your idea before investors?We had several potential partners calling us while the business plan was being developed, asking to please give them a first right of refusal.All of the investors tapped into their individual networks for feedback and the positive responses were overwhelming. Various ad agencies also embraced the brand potential immediately.We believe our brand has the capacity to become a synecdoche, like Kleenex, Coke and Xerox. The beach, in any online context will mean Beach.com.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?The profitability is driven by traffic from both those looking to vacation in a beach destination, and those living in a beach destination.The revenue streams are produced from a number of products and services offered on Beach.com including sponsorships from our hotel and airline partners, exclusive hotel and restaurant business listings, booking revenue generation, vacation rental and real estate listings and leads, local activity listings and reservations, and standard integrated advertising placements.Our distributor network will contribute to the profitability through local sales efforts, and the mobile applications will feature a monetary value proposition.All product paths lead to revenue.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Top domain name will organically drive traffic and reduce marketing expenses, intellectual property, execution strategy including the Beach.com Distributor Network, comprehensive sales channels.Management track record of success with strong commitment and leadership Weaknesses: Reputation – Beach.com has not yet earned the trust of business partners and sponsors.Brand awareness – Beach.com has not positioned itself in the mind of the user/consumer yet. Opportunities: Scope of online audience interested in the beach and beach destinations, new products will provide a compelling value to users, exclusive Beach.com content, deals and offers, customized communication platform Threats: Beach.com’s new products may cause established competitors to innovate at a quicker pace.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?We’ve received very positive feedback from initial partners and distributors. There was an assumption made by an industry analyst that Beach.com would immediate try to compete head to head with existing OTAs.They believed this would be very difficult for us to do at this time. We have no intention of doing that, but rather partnering with a premium OTA that shares our vision and sees the potential of Beach.com.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Our success metric is revenue. We are focused on providing our business partners, distribution partners, advertisers and sponsors a profitable venue for sales. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.