TLabs Showcase - Escape2HolidaysNewsBy Kevin May | April 4, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based online travel agency Escape2Holidays.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Escape2Holidays is a travel experience company committed to bringing personal service and personality to the online travel agency segment.I decided to start Escape2Holidays as a result of poor experiences when booking my own holidays. I found that traditional travel agents did not have the choices I was looking for and that the online agencies hid behind their technology and it was hard to obtain any personal service.We have assembled a team of travel experience professionals who are dedicated to providing the most interesting and suitable holidays at the best possible price for our customers.What financial support did you have to launch the business?None, all of the businesses within the Impact Business Group including Escape2Holidays have been grown organically without any financial support.I founded the group without the benefit of a privileged background or education and a few people were quick to offer financial support in the early days. Our company has been built on hard work and determination.As a result we are self funding and very resilient in tough markets.What problem are you trying to solve?To deliver a better online travel experience. We aim to provide all the convenience of searching and booking online with the expert assistance of a traditional travel agent only a call away.Escape2Holidays’ whole philosophy is aimed at offering our customers a great travel experience whatever budget is available to them. We are readily available to guide them through the often overwhelming number of holiday choices and ensure they are informed about the best deals avaiable.Describe the business, core products and services?We offer worldwide travel experiences from Russia to Chile and from Paris to Miami. Every member of our team has an array of industry experience in travel. Professional advice adds a lot of value to our online offering and we help each of our customers to find what is right for them.Within the company we have a number of niche areas of specialisation. This means our customers can talk to an expert with first-hand knowledge of a region.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Our customers range across a broad spectrum because we offer such a variety of travel opportunities. Essentially, our services are targeted to those seeking a great deal but without compromising choice or service.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?We value our customers and their input because winning trust and a great reputation is hugely important for Escape2Holidays.We don’t work for investors, it’s our customers who will judge their own holiday experience and validate our service. We encourage customer feedback through direct contact and social media channels.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?We earn commission from providing holidays whether they be traditionally or dynamically packaged. All fees are built into the advertised price and there are no hidden extras.We know customers are not happy about this, as shown by constant complaints about the low cost airlines. We have a variety of revenue streams including a call centre and our web presence.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Our strengths are in our ability to provide specialist advice on niche markets due to our highly experienced team and not only relying on technology.The opportunities available to us are within web based content and sales. Successfully matching potential customers with the most compelling travel offers is key to this.Like most travel agencies right now, the threats to our business are based on recent global events and the speed at which information travels.From ash clouds and snow last year to recent events in the Middle East and the tragedy of Japan, the world of international travel is a challenging one and our customers require security and peace of mind.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?A lot of people are of the opinion that travel companies had to be set up in the 1990’s and then sold or merged a few years later. I disagree.We wouldn’t get anywhere if we didn’t have the courage and belief in ourselves and our ideas. We always listen very carefully to criticism because that’s the time when we learn the most.Ultimately though, you have to make your own decisions and take risks to build something worthwhile.What is your success metric 12 months from now?We are very keen to develop our web presence in our niche markets and we plan to offer multiple experience and destination websites linked to the Escape2Holidays brand. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.