Former lastminute.com boss returns with online agency and TV channel

John Bevan, ex-UK managing director at lastminute.com, is spearheading the launch of a new combined online travel agency and digital TV channel known as traveldealsdirect.co.uk.

The service will launch within the next four weeks and is a new service from destination content provider The Travel Channel under chief executive Richard Wolfe.

Traveldealsdirect will sell flights, hotels, holidays, cruise and dynamically packaged products.

Bevan is currently project director for Traveldealsdirect after leaving lastminute.com in late-2008.

It is hoped Traveldealsdirect will be the first OTA to utilise digital TV editorial content as a main part of the experience of the site.

Visitors to the website and viewers of the channel will be able to see specially produced content on destinations and relevant editorial for a particular part of the annual travel calendar.

The website and TV channel on the Sky Digital platform will launch simultaneously, backed by a keyword buying campaign and cross-promotion from the main Travel Channel station.

Bevan told Travolution: “The big differentiator we will have is the quality of the TV channel content is a great lever to get people to the site.

“The look and feel of the site is about welcoming people who have arrived after seeing the TV channel but also inspiring new visitors with excellent quality video content.”

Traveldealsdirect has a broad marketing plan but Bevan suggested a large part of the strategy will be to target the over-45s.

Bevan has enlisted the help of a number of key partners including Monster Travel for fulfilment of bookings and contracting of tour operators.

Traveltek is to providing the product back-end systems.

Holidays will be ATOL-bonded via Monster Travel. Up to 20 staff from Freedom Direct, which ceased trading in April, will join the company’s call centre.

The Travel Channel will reserve a three-hour segment in its daily broadcast schedule to broadcast specific Traveldealsdirect content.

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