Keeping tabs on the holiday costs

Ruth Doris

The school holidays have begun; the heatwave has us longing for a week by the beach and many of us are planning to take more than one holiday per year.

Two Irish companies are offering digital services to make booking and paying for your holidays a breeze.

TravTab founders Alan Masterson and Darren Murray offer a so-called white label solution for travel agencies and tour operators to make it easier for their customers to make payments for their holidays.

Mr Masterson believes the travel industry is ripe for disruption. He says travel agencies are still popular with holidaymakers, and it’s time to offer a more modern digital product alongside the personal service.

“We’re used to everything on demand, whether it’s food, taxis, clothing. We want it, and we want it now,” he says.

With over half of us spending between €1,000 and €3,000 on a trip, most holidaymakers will pay a deposit and pay the balance later, often accessing credit in the form of a bank or credit union loan or credit card to pay off the holiday.

The interest builds up, and the costs for the holiday mount up.

Using the TravTab app, the customer can pay off their holiday at their own convenience with scheduled or ad-hoc payments.

TravTab has linked with Ireland’s largest travel company Club Travel and is working with two clients, Budget Travel and Abbey Travel.

It has also signed a deal with Travel Centres, a consortium of 60 independent Irish agents.

Users enter their name, email address and booking reference into the app to view their balance.

The TravTab app has a group bookings feature which allows more transparent management of payments.

The product is free for travel providers, including agencies, tour operators, online agencies, and coach and rail providers.

TravTab charges a 1.95% charge to the consumer. Taking 0.45% for operational costs, TravTab splits the remainder with the travel provider.

The TravTab app reduces paperwork for the agent.

Mr Masterson says a typical agency would have 400 to 500 payments per week, with each payment taking 10 to 15 minutes to process.

In addition to saving time, the convenience of the TravTab can help travel providers improve their cash flow and increase sales, Mr Masterson says.

TravTab is self-funded, with a small amount of private investment in 2017.

The company was recently accepted as a High Potential Start-Up with Enterprise Ireland, which enables it to access matched funding.

Aiming to use the Irish market as a launch pad, TravTab is talking to agencies in the UK.

The overall goal, however, is the US market, Mr Masterson says.

Another Irish travel tech company has already expanded into the global market. Campsited has a presence in 15 countries, including France, the world’s second largest camping market, and has 2,200 campsites signed up to its web-responsive platform.

Growing up in scenic Killarney in Co Kerry, founder Finán O’Donoghue has fond memories of family camping holidays.

However, when the time came for him and his wife to introduce their children to the outdoor life with a camping holiday in Europe, he found the booking processing “excruciating”.

Combining his background in technology and his passion for the outdoors, Mr O’Donoghue set up Campsited in 2015. The business struggled the following year before it came second in Google’s Adopt a Startup in early 2017.

It has since moved from its initial focus on building the technology and supply side to ramping up its customer base.

A digital marketing campaign — which included a website revamp — this year, has resulted in a 20% growth week-on-week in European bookings.

There is no cost to consumers, with Campsited taking a commission of 10% to 15% on bookings.

Mr O’Donoghue plans to expand into the wider adventure tourism market, including activity and adventure tours, outdoor experiences and campervan rental — which he says is a huge global market.

Campsited’s technology has been designed to easily incorporate other products, and it plans to make the platform a “one-stop-shop for booking an active holiday”.

Mr O’Donoghue says he wants to package ancillary products and services into an affordable subscription model, for families or groups keen on the outdoors.

Campsited has raised €1.3m in funding to date, including €150,000 from Enterprise Ireland. The company is looking to raise another €1m, with €100,000 already in place, to expand its team and grow the consumer side.

Mr O’Donoghue says the global camping market is significant.

Mr O’Donoghue hopes Campsited will become one of the market leaders in the industry over the next five to 10 years.

“The focus of brands like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Hostelworld is on urban areas, whereas there aren’t many household names in rural areas where most campsites and outdoor activities are. We see it as exciting opportunity for us,” he says.


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