Published on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Web designer launches website to help save agents

A former web designer for Flightline Essex is launching a travel search website which relies on agent expertise.

Robert Wheeler claims TripEdge, due to be launched in April, will connect UK holidaymakers to experienced travel agents who will use their knowledge and expertise to find them the perfect holiday deal, without having to search on over 20 websites.

“I have worked in the UK travel industry for over 10 years and in that time I have seen the role of qualified and highly experienced travel agents change dramatically,” said Wheeler.

“Travel agents are a great resource that UK holidaymakers are choosing to ignore in favour of do-it-yourself websites where you choose your flight, hotel and transfer without any help from an experienced travel agent.

“Before the internet took off in the UK, to book a holiday you visited a travel agent whom you trusted to give you the best available deal. The internet has changed all that in the last 10 years. Travel agents are losing their jobs and their expert knowledge and expertise is being wasted.

“I've seen friends and colleagues who are travel agents worry about losing their jobs and being just a call centre operator or telephone support for a website and I want to change all that.”

He is inviting travel agencies that hold ABTA & ATOL licenses to sign up to the service.

By Bev Fearis

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  • Thanks for the feedback

    To everyone who has posted comments, thanks for the great feedback. @George - Thanks for the support and good luck on the Travel Blog Project. @Paul - Regarding the 20 websites quote, that is from data supplied by Google. The current website is a teaser site while the actual site is being built and I have got the search engines covered. @Jenny - Thanks for the support. All travel agencies that join the TripEdge service will have to be both ABTA and ATOL bonded as I think customer protection and service are very important. @Craig - I don't know about travel agency laws in Australia, so I am building a UK service as I know the laws covering UK travel agencies.

    By Robert Wheeler, Thursday, March 10, 2011

  • Your thinking may be flawed here.

    Why do travel agents think any holiday booked outside of their control is at risk? Let"s be truthful here it was a tour operator and travel agent who first invented dynamic packaging. It is arrogant not to assume there is a business model where clients only paid for their holiday accommodation once they are in it and happy? But then you have to be confident the accommodation is of sufficient quality not to receive complaints once the client is in place. Can"t say the same for some tour operator accommodation in our village. But then if you only pay 10 Euros a night per person, how can the landlord supply cleaners, water, electricity, laundry, and still improve and update their properties? Not possible or sustainable. Plus our clients flights are insured by the flight provider either through ATOL or the providers own bonding, such as travel counsellors, airflights.co.uk and many other flight providers? In 5 years using this business model we have only had 3 holidays not happen, two because of deaths in the family and one due to a loss of job. Dealing with Italians can be interesting! and American Greeks can be a nightmare (not all) but the British, Aussies, Kiwis, Dutch etc. are fantastic to deal with. XL going under caused a few moments worry a couple of years back but all our clients affected got home on the day they were supposed to, some were hoping to be delayed a few extra days in the resort, and were disappointed when it didn"t happen. The same for Goldtrail last year. I am an internet savvy person and market totally our own product direct to the clients on behalf of private landlords. I am not bonded (way too expensive these days) But we are also always on location for the clients. At no time is our clients money at risk because we don"t touch it. I have looked at this thread"s concept years ago, it is not new, but decided it would not work because it is another level of marketing looking to squeeze income out of a reducing profit margin these days. It won"t run the test of time. It saddens me when people encourage others to spend money and time developing something but are not prepared to put up the money to pay for it to start with. Then once something is there they walk away as they don"t want to pay a realistic figure or just try to negotiate costs downwards to an unrealistic figure. This site lacks content, does not explain itself or its objectives and most of the pages I looked at I could not read the text because of the strong background image. It is inaccessible to colour blind due to font colour choice and partially sighted won"t even find the text or the blue will just be a blur. My sight is fine but I struggled reading the pages. The last person on earth to design and market a web site is a web site designer. It becomes image heavy every time, as in this case! A web site designer should be told what is required, what to do and given parameters to work to. I can only suggest a marketing or sales guru come on board and sort the site out. It needs it.

    By Paul Davis, Thursday, March 10, 2011

  • Yes! Agents can win this war.

    Great job Robert. As a webmaster and travel industry veteran, I will say that you and I agree 100%. Agents are the most significant marketing force in travel. They just need to adapt to the new online marketing landscape. We have 213 travel agents participating in the www.TravelBlogProject.com to brand and market themselves online. It is amazing the talent and enthusiasm they bring with a little knowledge. George Oberle

    By George Oberle, Wednesday, March 9, 2011

  • Trying to save who???

    Why do people have to search 20 web sites anyway? Not sure I understand the business model here. Is this a case of piggy backing on not so internet savvy travel agents with bonding who want a web presence, but lack the skills in-house and/or the finance to outsource internet solutions? Or just attempting to skim a percentage off the top from agents who are doing all the work anyway? I would be curious to know how this site would pitch to the search engines? Non specific and broad spectrum search terms may not return the results the searchers were looking for. This could prove sticky as the site wallows on page 5 or lower on google. If you are not on page one for the search question, you are nowhere. But a helpful hint. I cannot read much of the text on the page as it disappears on the rocks of the snazzy background image. Not very helpful to people trying to read and find information which the index page lacks anyway. Is that a shark cruising by just off the beach?

    By Paul Davis, Wednesday, March 9, 2011

  • Protecting the customer

    Good idea Robert, it's a good idea with the situation with travel companies going out of business at the moment that you only deal with ABTA and ATOL bonded agents as if you are a customer and save up for a holiday at least you know your money is protected as people can't afford to lose a large amount of money with the cut backs and low wages. Great job look forward to the launch.

    By Jenny Brown, Wednesday, March 9, 2011

  • What about OZ agents as well ?

    So why can't OZ agents join in as well ?

    By Craig Mathews, Wednesday, March 9, 2011

  • TripEdge website

    The TripEdge website is at http://www.tripedge.co.uk for those travel agencies wishing to sign up and use the new service.

    By Robert Wheeler, Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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