TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based trip planning and destination service Findmybeach.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
We are a small core team based in London and supported by a growing network of contributing researchers, writers, photographers - all with firsthand experience of the recommended beaches.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
To date we are totally self-financed. At this stage we do not foresee requiring any external financing to reach profitability. However this may change depending on how aggressively we decide to scale up.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We think there is a huge gap on the internet for honest and accurate recommendations on beaches on a wide scale grouped together under one roof.
Findmybeach’s multilingual team has researched the entire coastlines of the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Balkans and Turkey.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Findmybeach is a hybrid business. We are first and foremost a travel content website with a core focus on beaches.
We have created a scalable technology platform which will allow us to add our beach reviews to a custom built database. Having said that, it is not our intention to create an exhaustive directory of beaches. Instead, we believe in less is more.
Our collection is of beaches that are all special in some way and offer something different to our user community. As we develop the website, our strategy is to find and feature fantastic accommodation options on or near each beach.
Again this will not be every hotel in the area, rather a couple of great options be they boutique hotel, private villa rentals or even cool campsites, beach huts, cabanas. You get the idea.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
First and foremost, Findmybeach targets the independent minded traveller. This is not a website for those seeking a quick package holiday in the sun.
We stay clear of the mass tourism commercial beaches and instead focus on holiday makers who actually like to spend a bit of time researching and planning their trip.
We want to inspire people with our creative and imaginative holiday ideas. So our customers are likely to be somewhat experienced travellers of all ages. Each of our beaches is categorised by type. Two very popular categories are our "Luxury & exclusive beaches" and our "Activity and sport beaches".
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
To be honest, this is one of those business ideas that came out of personal experience. We were our first customers.
We tried to plan a fly-drive holiday through Italy, basing our stops around great beaches to get the sun and sand we craved. Imagine our surprise when we couldn’t find any concrete information about individual beaches.
Even the basics, like a sand vs. a pebble beach – were missing! We discovered it’s the same everywhere. It’s now become our mission to help fellow travellers find exactly the type of beach they’re looking for.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our initial revenue stream is affiliate marketing. We have partnered with a variety of well known travel brands to enable our users to conveniently make travel bookings such as flights, hotels and car hire.
We use both banner adverts as well as contextually appropriate deep text links. The latter works really well by directing our users to specific pages internally on our advertisers websites.
As we expand, we aim to build a secondary revenue stream from directly handling property reservations and bookings ourselves.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, many of the accommodation options we are uncovering are not covered by the large GDS and are seeking additional exposure in appropriate web channels such as ours.
We anticipate this to become more important and valuable for us in the long term.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Perhaps surprisingly the ‘beach’ category is not a very crowded space. Our research revealed that where beach information does exist on the web, it is very local. As a result for anyone wanting to do high level research of beaches, say comparing beaches in Portugal with beaches in Greece, the experience is not a pleasing or consistent one. We have all become very used to consuming our information in a consolidated, well presented and comparable way. We also fully expect our information to reliable and consistent. By contrast, the ‘beach’ category is fragmented and information available is often inconsistent and biased.
- Whilst it is our intention to go global as soon as possible, we will undoubtedly become more reliant on our extended contributors network rather than our own personal experiences. Maintaining quality will be essential and it will be a challenge to define the right format and depth of beach review that we can easily scale up.
- Findmybeach has a tremendous opportunity to position itself very quickly as the trusted authority for beach recommendations.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Whilst there is some existing competition in the beach category, those that pose any real threat have chosen the ‘exhaustive beach directory’ route. We don’t think this resonates with our target customer segments. Listing every beach under the sun (mind the pun), doesn’t solve any problems and just results in more confusion and information overload. We think a manageable collection of highly researched and recommendable beaches is the way to go and what our users will really respond to.
A lot people did warn us that the travel sector was the most competitive space on the web. SEO would for example be a real challenge for us against the massive budgets of the travel brands.
To be honest though, this was something we simply were determined to do. Once, we thought it through, it was a ‘no brainer’. After all everyone likes beaches and virtually everyone spends some time on them at least once a year.
Being in a position to be able to build the first website that caters for that demand seemed like an unbelievable opportunity.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
There are a number of metrics we are tracking. We think our content and website proposition is strong enough that revenue should grow in line with traffic.
So, first and foremost, we are focusing on driving significant growth in traffic volumes - both unique and repeat traffic. We aim to generate that traffic from Google SEO as well as extensive use of social media (Facebook, twitter etc). We think if we can excel in these areas, the traffic and revenue will come.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.