Long gone are the days of the travel agency being a consumer’s first stop on the road to booking a holiday – the internet has, for many, well and truly taken over.
However, the internet has yet to come up with a definitive one stop shop that allows consumers to find and book each aspect of their holiday, from flights to accommodation to activities, restaurants, and more.
Aiming to get travellers through that process end to end for a handful of destinations is Melbourne-founded TRAVLR, created by husband and wife team Simon and Lani te Hennepe.
The platform has evolved from the pair’s other business, The Bali Bible, the first iteration of which was as PDF document listing out the best places to eat, sleep, and party in Bali for the couple’s friends following their travels; it grew into a Facebook page, then a website, and later a business in itself helping travellers find and book their holidays.
The pair soon realised that the way people were using The Bali Bible could provide the foundations for a new business.
“When we realised that The Bali Bible had more unique hashtags than any other travel provider including TripAdvisor in Bali, we knew we were onto something,” Lani said.
So TRAVLR was born, with a key focus: that the customer is always front of mind, Lani said.
“We want TRAVLR to be a great experience every time and we’re forever enhancing the platform to allow avid travellers a seamless experience that isn’t clunky and uses technology in its best form to make the whole process one you’ll want repeat over and over again,” she explained.
Currently covering Fiji, Bali, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Indonesia, TRAVLR allows users to first gain inspiration for what to do from other travellers, plan their trip, and then book it, covering their flights, accommodation, and activities.
“You can research, plan, and book in the one place without having to use 10 different sites,” Lani said.
The tech behind the platform has taken some time to build, with the various booking features enabled by the startup tapping into airlines’ APIs. With that in mind, Lani admitted that one of the most difficult jobs in the TRAVLR team is that of chief technology officer, or CTO.
“If a customer has a bad technical experience on our site it’s likely they won’t use us again; everything has to be easy, effortless and the most advanced it can be to convert customers but also to offer a great platform that’s competitive,” she explained.
“Remaining competitive is our biggest obstacle, but it’s front of mind for our entire team across all divisions and is forever evolving, opening many doors and unhinging opportunities that would never have been available to us when we first launched.”
The startup, which raised $5 million in funding last October, is looking to the millennial market, and more broadly “avid travellers” aged between 18 and 40.
“They have a disposable income, are active social media users, and love to explore. The majority of TRAVLR and The Bali Bible’s audience are millennials who are active travellers that want to know new and exciting things to do in various locations,” Lani said.
“We have a highly engaged social media following and loyal database that are actively involved on the platform.”
Of course, there is no end of competitors in the travel space, however Lani believes some of the startup’s biggest competitors can “equally be seen as its biggest partners”.
“We all work together to give the customer the best possible experience and are forever enhancing and adapting to appeal to our customer’s changing needs and expectations when they book travel,” Lani said.
“As the platform grows we continue to integrate with premium partners to enhance the TRAVLR site, and pride ourselves in offering something truly different in the traveltech space that is customer centric.”
Image: Lani te Hennepe. Source: Supplied.