New online travel agency Traveljunction.com has boldly claimed it will operate the world’s most useful travel website within a year and a half.
Launched on January 13 after a nine-month build, Travel Junction expects to make early strides in Europe (in particular the UK), the US and Dubai.
Backed by Dubai-based marketing specialist Clicksco, the new venture is typical of many technology-driven firms in that its footprint is geographically widespread.
While some marketing functions reside in the US, it has a call centre in Southend, a London office and its technology hub in Middlesbrough, tapping a rich pool of local student talent.
Lisa Goswell, chief commercial officer, who has previously worked for Atlantis The Palm, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, and Thomas Cook, said the vision was a travel retailer with personality.
“We are positioning ourselves as having the breadth of product of Booking.com or Expedia but a personality more akin to smaller niche businesses. Over the next 18 months we will have the most useful travel site in the world,” she said.
So, quite ambitious. Currently the site does “nothing extraordinary”, Goswell admits, having launched with just a simple Google homepage-style search functionality and offering just hotels at the outset.
In order to generate some profile there’s a Beach Hop ‘lucky towel’ game open to UK visitors only, intended to drive some early traffic and collect user profiles by offering a holiday as a prize.
“We have probably got 20% of the functionality that the site will have,” Goswell said. “We will push the boundaries of the online travel experience. We have technology and travel experts and together we are breaking new ground.
“We are trying to address consumer requirement and taking time to understand consumer behaviour, not just throwing up functionality we think people want and assuming other online travel companies have got it right.”
Mark Meredith, global commercial strategy director who previously worked for Virgin Holidays and Tui Travel, added: “There is very little colour in that [online] space which is what we are trying to bring.
“We will bring a bit more of a vision of what service looks like, more of a tour operator-style service. Yes, there are some very successful operators already in this space, but they are very functional.”
Other content streams will be added soon, with flights the first in line, and behind the scenes Travel Junction is busy monitoring customer behaviour so that its site will eventually be tailored to what they want.
Goswell is confident Travel Junction can succeed where others have failed because it is an entirely new venture building its own technology from the ground up.
All the technology is being built on cloud-based open systems to ensure it is flexible, allowing the possibility to re-skin it at the front end and filter results at the back to quickly create entirely new brands. Spin-off sites are expected to be a source of revenue in the future.
The technology will also drive product breadth and differentiation by allowing hoteliers to create their own content and feed in data manually if they do not have an automated feed.
As well as integrating with established product feeds, Travel Junction will also contract its own hotel deals. As of today it offers 130,000 properties worldwide.
“We are a technology company who understands travel. Because we have started afresh we have built from scratch and we don’t need to do any ‘bolting on’,” Goswell said.
“We have to make sure we do everything from a customer-centric mentality.”