Odyssey Travel App
Odyssey Travel App is a premium travel platform that aims to democratize access to luxury hotels, car rental and other travel services directly from the provider to the user.
Launching in May, Odyssey Travel App has been accepted into the Amadeus Startup Launchpad.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
The Odyssey Travel App is a Chicago-based tech-enabled premium travel platform that aims to democratize access to luxury hotels, car rental and other travel services directly from the provider to the user.
As a new app accepted into the Amadeus Startup Launchpad, it aims to enhance the luxury travel booking experience as well as open distribution channels, for services that have previously been opaque and limited, especially to travel consumers of diverse backgrounds. The partnership with Amadeus will help to acquire and convert customers, create shopping cart value, increase profit and expand the footprint and business over time.
Odyssey Travel App
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
The Odyssey Travel App has been accepted into the Amadeus Startup Launchpad. They will offer us best-in-class technology and content, access to industry experts and a high-touch support environment to help our dev team test, prove our minimum viable product (MVP), go to market and scale globally. We will be using their Enterprise level SOAP APIs for Hotel, Rental Car and Flights to deliver best-in-class pricing, availability and booking for consumers.
Thanks to our development partners at Idea Usher, we will be using Flutter, which is “Google’s UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile (Android, iOS ) desktop (Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia) and the web from a single codebase.” This means we will launch with three major platforms and only have to support one set of code going forward.
Key partner integrations:
Revelex will be our phase 2 partner to implement their cruise APIs. Revelex offers the most dynamic and robust cruise booking engine available in the travel industry. With direct connections to 35-plus major cruise lines and relationships with 20 others, they will help us to cast a wide net for the best cruise products with their API cruise solutions.
Visiting Media is a partnership that will support integration of TrueTour, their industry-leading sales enablement platform, plus Visiting Media’s 360-degree/3D content program to increase hotel sales revenues and deliver integrated virtual touring of participating properties. We expect to see an increase in room upgrades to be as high as 6% above average OTAs', and a 20% increase in revenue per customer as well.
The Salesforce API will be utilized to enable incredible reporting, enhance customer loyalty and grow marketing capabilities that will maximize ROI, focus on repeat and referral business and increase conversion rates.
Sherpa API integration will guide our customers safely and confidently through the COVID-19 travel landscape by providing the information they need and documentation they require right within our booking flow. This technology is currently used by American Airlines.
SIFT digital trust and fraud prevention integration will secure the Odyssey Travel App and odysseytravelapp.com by proactively stopping account takeover, payment fraud and scam content. This will help protect us from all kinds of fraudulent transactions to secure our brand and consumers.
With over 30 years of combined travel experience for our founders, we understand how consumers search, plan and book their travel. We also have an extensive roster of supplier relationships to utilize and make the Odyssey Travel App the best it can be. With a customer base that generated nearly $1 million in sales for 2019 we will inherit an immediate user base to go with our pre-launch marketing efforts.
A key component of Odyssey will be integration of our luxury travel advisors. Consumers will be offered the ability to extend their bookings by working with an expert travel advisor to book and manage group trips, guided tours, rail, extended services and VIP services. We will set ourselves apart from the competition by offering this seamless, but unique, premium level of support easily and on-the-fly, or the consumer can continue to book their trip online.
Our marketing will focus on driving in premium and luxury consumers through the showcase of properties that match the profile of these type of consumers. We will also ensure that our marketing realizes the diversity in the travel market, and provides imagery that is more inclusive of the full range of clientele that book travel. Especially people of color who spend an estimated $160 billion in travel globally but are underrepresented in luxury marketing imagery. People of all shapes and sizes will feel welcome working with our company, and they will enjoy the ease of use that we will provide them.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Accepted into the Amadeus Startup Launchpad
- Developer has built more than a dozen travel applications
- Travel experience is extensive and well documented as an expert in travel; we are an IATA agency
- Media exposure such as guest appearances on CGTN America and 20,000 social media following is strong pre-launch to drive demand
- API development experience needs improvement, and deeper resources
- Pre-seed bootstrapping delays launch of key elements, such as flight, cruise and rail APIs
- ARC needs to be purchased to book air
- Development team is a third party, which potentially causes delays and disruption
- Need to bring on an experienced revenue manager
- Marketing, accounting and IT staff needs to be increased to support inbound demand
- SIFT integration is costly, but fraud prevention is crucial. We will launch with one of their two services but will want to increase to utilize both services for full protection
- The marketing budget is nonexistent in comparison to competitors such as Airbnb, Hotwire.com and Hotels.com
- Pre-seed bootstrapping means that we will be budget strapped until booking commissions impact our bottom line months down the road. This will delay advancement of revenue generating actions
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
We will succeed by focusing on the luxury and premium travel market because that is currently under-represented in the OTA market. Most OTAs focus on the cheap deal, and lowest price point of the mass market. We will work to define ourselves by focusing on the more premium brands and suppliers. Although we will ensure our pricing is the best it can be, we will not be working to attract the discount customer.
Additionally, our marketing will ensure that people of color and other diverse backgrounds are well represented in our marketing and social media efforts to attract and support their luxury buying needs.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
Prior to the launch of our MVP, we are already managing a go-to-market strategy with our key partners and focusing on the growth of our pre-launch mailing list, conversion of our current customer base to ready-to-download users and education of our offering. Thanks to the strength of our current mailing list, and social media we will have a great first week of downloads, and website usage. It is getting stronger every day.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We are currently delivering high-value pre-launch content with videos and imagery on social media and building our mailing list with our relationships with our current customers and suppliers. We are identifying our target markets, and adjusting our messaging from that feedback. We are partnering with Western Governors University’s College of Business for two projects.
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In May, they will work to determine how we can best position our premium travel brand, products and services to consumers in a post-pandemic travel environment. Then a second class will work to understand what we will need to do to reach a target market share of 1% to15% (i.e., what would be the revenue targets, commission targets and customer targets to achieve that goal).
Lastly, we have enlisted Fidelman & Co. as consultants to support our VC fundraising efforts. With Fidelman & Co., they will work under the direction of our team to assist on the following tasks:
- Work with management to create/refine presentation and narrative in order to best engage investors.
- Review and revise the financial model including pressure testing market research and penetration projections.
- Propose capital structure, including valuation and, if needed, convertible note calculator.
How and when will you make money?
We will immediately begin to make revenues thanks to the fee structure on bookings made, and prepaid travel bookings that drive immediate commissions. The strongest commissions will take an expected three to 12 months to drive revenues to us thanks to booking windows and commission pay-out timelines by the suppliers.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
The founders have extensive travel experience including roles as a global sales role at United Airlines, international reservations at South African Airways, strategic account manager and supervisor of training in consumer outreach at Royal Caribbean, corporate travel agency sales and leisure travel sales. We have supported major brands such as Tory Burch, Dolce & Gabbana, the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Team, a D.C. law firm, interior design firm Soucie Horner and many other luxury leisure groups and travelers.
Founder Stephen Scott has been named a trendsetter by Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine and one of the top Black luxury travel advisors in the world by Passport and Group.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
Our founders are from different backgrounds and countries, and our travel advisory team comes from very different backgrounds as well. We are continuing to add a great mixture of amazing team members that bring something special to our business and our customers. Stephen Scott is a regular guest on CGTN America, which is a 24-hour English language news channel that is broadcast to over 100 English-speaking countries around the world, including the United States, which will bring in clientele globally.
He is also a co-chair of the recruiting subcommittee for the Northstar Travel Group’s Black Travel Advisory Board [editor's note: PhocusWire is owned by Northstar Travel Group]. The partnerships and learnings sprouting from that role will be an invaluable resource for us to follow and lead the industry with hiring of diverse talent.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Bootstrapping the business has been the toughest. We have made extraordinary gains, but a lack of resources showcases that there is so much we can do, but without the resources we cannot action them.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
We already have a customer base for our non-technical side of the business, and already know how to make money, service the client and drive higher revenues with a focus on luxury clients and suppliers. We are simply making the process of booking travel easier and scalable for any global consumer to book with us 24/7.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
A year from now, we will have launched our hotel, rental car and cruise segments and will garner attention from major media outlets for being the best new travel brand available during the post-pandemic travel surge.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
Our end-game is to go public and follow a similar model to Airbnb. We are not interested in acquisition at the moment as it may dilute our ability to focus on the luxury market and driving the inclusive and diverse marketing that we want to deliver.