TLabs Showcase - TravrefNewsBy Kevin May | April 5, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based map-led flight search service Travref.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?My name is Richard Moore, and I set up Ttravref two years ago. Travref is part of Travel Reference Limited, of which I am owner and sole director.I had previously worked in airline sales and marketing for 14 years for airlines including Gulf Air, Continental Airlines and GB Airways.What financial support did you have to launch the business?At the moment the project is funded entirely by myself. Travref.com will launch as a self-funded entity and is fully functional on that basis.However I am actively seeking additional investment to build in increased functionality and of course for marketing.What problem are you trying to solve?When researching a trip, where does a consumer or travel agent currently go to quickly discover ALL the direct travel options available to them, including air, sea, and international rail in as little as three clicks?Where can they find unbiased unfiltered results presented on an intuitive map, where a new search to another city is only one click away?To give just one example, can anyone remember all of the 10 direct flight options between London and Milan? Where can consumers and trade then learn about visa, health and FCO advice direct from the source in one further click?This is the problem that Travref aims to solve.Describe the business, core products and services?Travref provides independent travel search results for both consumer and trade who need quick and simple travel information without any bias.It is therefore useful to anyone who does not know all the direct options that are available across the whole market.It is however also available as a white label product for organisations who have a need to give their website users complete information on travel connections into and out of the UK and Ireland.Travref can be tailored exactly to a customer’s needs, and once implemented provides an easy interactive search tool on their site which never needs updating, linking their customers direct to each carrier for more information, or to make bookings.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Travref is available to all consumers and trade from launch. Organisations that will benefit from the white label product include UK-based foreign tourist boards, airports, accommodation only providers selling to a UK audience, and even airlines.The Italian Tourist Board in London is already using our product to display all air routes from the UK and Ireland to Italy on their website.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Yes, both from friends and colleagues within the industry who saw the need for an independent search tool to provide them with the facts at the start of researching a new trip.A very useful few days at World Travel Market also validated the idea from potential customers who saw the need for a white labelled product tailored to their needs that could be easily installed on their websites.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?The site is now live and available to everyone. It will make money from operators using the traditional referral model, however this will not be at the expense of providing accurate, unbiased and comprehensive information. Its first role will always be that of an independent research tool.When tailored and white labelled for organisations, a monthly service level agreement will be charged. Between both revenue models we aim to achieve profitability within 12 months.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: We believe that this is the quickest and easiest site currently showing the complete UK and Irish air, sea and international rail markets on one screen in just a few clicks. It provides all of the direct routes so that the user then has complete confidence to purchase direct from the provider, or alternatively know what the options are when looking to buy elsewhere. Weaknesses: The site currently only shows direct services, and does not display connecting options. However with the thousands of potential connections to every airport and port worldwide, providing all such information would be totally overwhelming on this format. Air, sea and rail operators do however have the option to display connections for their most important routes on the site for a fee. These paid connections will always be made clear to all users so they continue to trust the site’s impartiality. Opportunities: The map based format provides opportunities for other travel searches. We are already trialling UK Attractions by county - the live site already provides over 2,100 links to the best days out in the UK. Threats: Travref is simple idea, parts of which other organisations could try to implement. We have the benefit of being completely independent, and can work with everyone without any potential conflicts.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?People have advised that online travel is already a crowded market place, and questioned how our simple site would get noticed amongst all the others.But we are not just another aggregator. We offer a real USP, providing unbiased and accurate information at the very start of the user’s search.We also believe that our white labelled products can provide a real service to third party providers such as tourist boards, accommodation providers, airports and even airlines.They can benefit from a simple but accurate search tool on their own websites, knowing that it is always up to date.What is your success metric 12 months from now?We believe that through our unique offering we can make a real difference to the travel search for individual users, the trade, and those companies using our white labelled products.Combined with our low cost base, we are confident that we can achieve substantial usage and earn a profit within the first twelve months. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.