Amsterdam-based TRVL is aiming to shake up the travel industry by turning you (and that guy, and the lady over there and that chap over there, too) into a travel agent. The platform is a sharing-economy approach to booking travel for your friends and complete and utter strangers.
The pain point TRVL believes it will be able to relieve is that people are spending way too long dithering before firming up their travel plans.
“Studies show we spend hours researching our trips online — just to cut through the noise, narrow down our choices and build up enough confidence to book,” says Jochem Wijnands, CEO at TRVL. “Recommendations go a long way, especially if they are coming from people you trust.”
Which makes sense, but seems to make the assumption that only people with well-traveled friends travel, which may not be true for everyone. Even if the platform expands to accepting travel advice from friends-of-friends… well, let’s just say I am connected to quite a few people on social media whose friends I wouldn’t necessarily trust to give good travel advice.
The company is operating on an interesting business model. By using the TRVL platform to book the trips, agents are able to tap into the slightly discounted agency rates for booked trips. The traveler pays the same they would anyway, but the commission paid by the hotel chains, airlines and car rental companies is split between TRVL and the agents. The idea is that, in effect, travelers get TRVL’s service for free.
It’s a tremendously interesting move. Whether the company will succeed will depend on if it manages to make the marketplace economics work in the notoriously slim-margined travel space. Either way, I think it will be one to watch.
The TRVL platform is currently in private beta and will launch to the public next month.