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Putting Travel into Travel Tech

26 January 2012

When we started this blog we decided that we weren't just going to blog about travel; we wanted to blog about what it was like starting up and running and online travel business.  Now that we're launched we wanted to reflect where we fit into the huge online travel spectrum, and perhaps why we're slightly different.

There are two of us working on travellocal, and we're from the same background - the travel industry. We know a lot about tourism, about how it works, about why people travel, what makes a trip great, and so on. Between us we have 16 years of experience working with customers, other tour operators, local tour operators in destination countries, guides, hotels and travel-focussed NGOs. But we're relatively light on technological knowledge - that's where we buy in the expertise, on the assumption that we should all be sticking to what we're really good at. 

There are now many online companies like ours trying to grow their business and provide customers with what they want. What is interesting is to see the difference in approach. One key dividing line that we can perceive is between companies with a technological background who want to get into the travel industry, and companies from the travel industry trying to get into the technological side of the business more. 

Both sides have a lot to offer each other, but it's not clear they really communicate much. Technological knowledge is fantastic for grasping (and in time harnessing) the potential scale of a business, but I wonder whether companies from a tech background are missing what the Holy Grail really is. If you're a tech entrepreneur with big ideas about travel, the Holy Grail is to create a billion dollar company that has hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of customers. 

On the other hand companies with no tech knowledge are finding their business models being ripped up - sometimes slowly, sometimes overnight - and their customers being confronted with exponential choice. These companies have seen the value of what they provide crash in real terms, as more and more information that used to be only theirs - when to go to a country, what to do there, who to book it with - becomes free. But their Holy Grail is different - beyond making their daily bread, they exist to provide amazing trips. 

We want to be one of those companies where the two sides are talking to each other. Our developers were interested right from the beginning in our Holy Grail - to provide amazing trips, even very complex and demanding ones, to all customers who want them. But we're trying to harness technology to make it happen, something they've hugely helped us with.

We don't promise to be a game-changer, but we do promise no one will have to accept lower standards of customer service just because they've chosen to book online.

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TravelLocal Limited is a company registered in England and Wales under company number 07186581. Registered office is at 1 High Street, Thatcham, England RG19 3JG ("Travel Local"). Telephone +44 1865 242 709, email