Deal sites aplenty kicking about in travel these days, so perhaps it makes sense to try and aggregate all the offers into a single place, such as what Travelope is trying.
The US-based company was created in March 2012 by Niraj Shah (CEO), Eric Popivker (CTO) and Denise Hitch (VP marketing), and now has a total team of six after a further three software engineers were added.
Essentially the site collates deals from across the web, including the usual suspects such as Groupon, and puts them into a simple search function so users can quickly find a deal and then secure with the source.
Metasearch for deals, in other words.
Travelope makes money in a similar way, through a combination of the CPC and CPA models depending on the relationship with the supplier site.
The potential power in the site is that it claims to have every deal available in real-time, meaning a user can search and secure the current deal within minutes from the site.
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
Currently, thousands of travel sites offer deals, and the amount is increasing every day. Customers trying to find the best deals for their vacation have to navigate dozens of sites, which is time-consuming.
We believe we can make this travel planning process easier and more efficient by aggregating all the deals in one place and presenting them in one simple format. We help online shoppers find all the travel deals in one place.
Most travel sites are driven by advertising deals; however, we automate the process and use Deal Rank, an algorithm that highlights the deals that are most popular and provide most value to online shoppers.
Our engine crawls all the popular travel sites using APIs, RSS feeds, HTML parsers, etc and converts the data into a common deal format that we can also provide to other publishers who wants to publish the content via the API.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Our customers are value seeking; they come to our site to find the best value for the vacations they are planning. Since we list various kinds of deals from airfare, hotels, vacations, and cruise deals, it allows our customers to compare the offers from various websites.
Rather than checking each site to see what deals are offered, online shoppers can visit Travelope.com and see a comprehensive list of all offers from around the web. Customers can also receive daily alerts about new deals for specific destinations and travel dates.
Travel companies can use our platform to reach a wide audience. We offer a multitude of advertising, CPC, and among options for companies interested in working with us.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
We have a multi-pronged approach to raising awareness and building our brand. Aside from SEO, SEM, social media marketing, and content creation, we focus on providing an API that other publishers can use.
Most travel sites have non-conformant data that we make usable. We have a few developers consuming our API and datasets, where the deal content is displayed on the publishers’ sites. We plan to extend it by creating a developer community that uses our API exclusively.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
If the consumer side does not work out properly, we also have a solid backend platform that other businesses can use to manage their deals and offerings, which can ultimately use our system as a distribution platform.
We have spent a significant amount of resources and time building a simple APIs and analytics dashboard where businesses can distribute their offers and track their conversions’ loop.
For example, if a business wanted to publish deals, it can publish them on its own site as well as our distributers’ sites including all the social media sites and search engines. Then the business can track all channels for sales conversions.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
We have designed and built various products in the past but failed to launch some of them as we tried to make them perfect.
We are now following a "Lean Startup" guide that helps us build and ship quickly and efficiently, while listening to our customers for early feedback.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another start up to help it out?
There seems to be little innovation with the big online travel agencies, in terms of technology or the way consumers interact with them. Customer loyalty as a concept is, generally, nonexistent as services such as air travel and hotels become commodities.
Customers are looking for ways to plan, search, and buy travel products from a variety of sources.
At Travelope, we aim to help customers find the best travel deals in one place. We are the only website that provides a comprehensive list of all the travel offers from around the web.
Some might wonder if the decision to get into the deal space just six months ago is somewhat late to the game, given that there has been a general slowing down of the market in some areas over the course of the past year.
But where the likes of Travelzoo, Yipit, Cheapflights et al have powered ahead (although at least two of those have been around for years) with the deal model, with the economy still wavering in many markets perhaps there is a need for a deal aggregation service.
Travelope claims to have no direct competitors, so if the marketing and PR works (and consumers like what they see), then perhaps there is room for such a site.
The main question in all this is around growth. Given the relatively slim pickings in CPC and CPA levels from companies that are already often tight with their affiliate programmes, Travelope will need to score big on the user volume side if it is gain traction and revenue.
NB:TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.