TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based consumer-to-agent referral service TripEdge.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
TripEdge is a web service aimed at getting UK holidaymakers the best holiday deals by connecting them with experienced travel agents.
Robert Wheeler is the founder of TripEdge. Prior to starting TripEdge Robert worked as senior web designer at online flights specialist Flightline Essex for over 10 years.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
The business is being bootstrapped by its founder.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The average person searching for a holiday online visits over 20 websites, but what if you could visit one website and get experienced travel agents contacting you with the best holiday deals available.
UK holidaymakers can book holidays costing hundreds or thousands of pounds via self-service websites without ever talking to an experienced travel agent.
I think that travel agents are an excellent resource that is being ignored by most holidaymakers, but I believe that most holidaymakers would benefit from the expertise and knowledge that a travel agent could give when booking a holiday.
Describe the business, core products and services?
TripEdge will connect holidaymakers to experienced travel agents who will then contact the holidaymaker with the best holiday deals they can offer.
The web service will sit between visiting your local high street travel agent and using an online self service travel website.
For travel agencies it is a lead generation service that aims to build customer confidence in the travel sector and in travel agents as the travel agents get to use their knowledge and expertise to give the customer the best possible service and therefore raise brand awareness.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Anyone looking for a holiday who doesn’t want to do the time consuming task of visiting over 20 travel websites and taking lots of notes about the deals on offer that then go and change.
Travel Agencies that hold ABTA or TTA memberships as well as an ATOL licence will be invited to join the service, this is to make sure that customers booking with these companies have the best possible financial protection.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
No, this is an area of the UK travel industry that I believe is poorly serviced at the moment.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Travel agencies will pay a yearly fee to be a part of the service and as the web service is being bootstrapped it should become profitable very quickly.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- The founder has extensive knowledge of the online and offline travel industry and will bring that to TripEdge to build a web service that serves the customer.
- TripEdge is a new website and therefore a lot of work is needed in promotion and brand awareness to attract users.
- There is a lot of room for increasing the services the website offers.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Traditional online travel agents could start to offer a similar service.
No one, everyone who has heard the idea thinks it is a good idea.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
If the travel agencies that join the service this year renew for next year and if the web service serves more than 100,000 holidaymakers in 2011.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.