TLabs Showcase - HolidayCrowdNewsBy Kevin May | February 28, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based travel agent online referral platform HolidayCrowd.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?HolidayCrowd is crowdsourcing travel! The site is an online travel marketplace that connects travellers with travel agents. We’re based in the UK with an office in Bristol, we want to put a fresh, new and innovative spin on travel!Our team consists of six people including the co-founder, the marketing guy, the communicator and some awesome developers! We’re all big travel fans and thrive on creating cool ideas to spread the word about our website.What financial support did you have to launch the business?The project is self-funded to date but we’re currently open to investment opportunities.What problem are you trying to solve?More people are looking to use the services of a travel agent for peace of mind, financial security and expertise. HolidayCrowd fulfils this need online and provides a platform for one trip request to be seen by many agents. We’ve noticed travel agents coming under increasing pressure from the large online travel providers so we’re trying to level the playing field. 2011 is the year of renaissance for the high street travel agent.Describe the business, core products and services?HolidayCrowd is a young business that’s crowdsourcing travel. We cater for travellers who know exactly what they want and the traveller who isn’t really sure what they want and require some inspiration, experience and expert knowledge.The website provides a safe online environment for travel agents to be introduced to new clients. Precise itineraries can be created in minutes and travellers and travel agents can chat, whether it’s to request a change or make a suggestion. HolidayCrowd also has the ability to manage online payments.Other features include the Agent Store fronts, increasing agents profile online, presenting travellers with pre-made holiday ideas from individual travel agents, in one place. Agents can also share itineraries made for other travellers, so we’re expecting some pretty unique holidays being shared and sold in the future!Who are your key customers and users at launch?Our key customers are travel agents including home based, high street and online independents. Travel agents can register for free and we’ve had a great response from our first members. It offers a national platform for high street travel agents to trade online.People who use HolidayCrowd are travellers who want to use a travel agent. It saves them time, as one request can be seen by many agents who can create itineraries for the traveller.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?We consulted travel agents and performed research into the idea. This delivered some really positive feedback that we couldn’t ignore! However, we will always be improving the site based on traveller and agent feedback.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?We earn a commission on every holiday booked using HolidayCrowd. At present this is the only active revenue stream but we have ideas to generate revenue once the website is more established.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threatsThis is a pretty new concept, so it’s hard to tell. But our strengths are definitely technical ability and a gung-ho attitude.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?No one’s said it won’t work and our responses have been really positive. We are applying a business model that works for other industries such as web design, graphics and shipping; however we are applying those models to an industry in need of some rejuvenation and a nudge into web 2.0. We’re thinking thousands of travel agents will agree.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Once we have established the website in the UK, we hope to take HolidayCrowd abroad – it seems the right thing for a travel website to be doing! Australia and America are at the top of our list and we see this as a realistic aim. We’ll see success when the smaller agencies are winning online! NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.