Crowdsourcing group trip planning start-up OpenTrips has invited travel professionals to use its site as a free product development tool.
The firm, which launched seven months ago, was among seven to present their model at the third annual Small Fish Big Ocean WTM Pitch Night in London on Monday.
Founder Florian Siepert said the site was established to address a number of issues that conventional tour operators complain about in the group tours sector, including low uptake, cancellations and low margins.
“Basically they are proposing a product to the consumer without ever having talked to them. You may or may not have hit what they need or you have fairly high marketing costs.”
OpenTrips is a platform which fully integrates with social media, and allows individuals to post suggested ideas for a trip and then to create a group which can then collaborate on the details and put the entire tour together.
Once created, travel firms are invited to quote for the trip and then sell it through the site to the group.
Siepert said OpenTrips’ most successful trip to date generated 45 followers and was eventually sold to 25 of them. The site has seen a steady 37% conversion rate, he said, and has gained traction with zero marketing as the individuals do all the promotion in creating the trips.
OpenTrips charges 15% of bookings, which average £500 excluding flights, and to date sport and food-related travel has been the focus.
The audience was encouraged to use the site to test new ideas by starting trips to see what is popular.
“Suggest trips. It’s a great opportunity for you guys to try new stuff. Put an idea on the site and see if there’s an uptake of customers, see if customers take it in a direction where you did not envisage but where it becomes a bookable product,” said Siepert.
“The car industry has been doing this for 15 years. Very few cars leave the factory without consumer input. It allows you to explore niche opportunities.”
OpenTrips says it is still very much in a product development phase than growth.