Travel was one of the first industries that realised the potential of reviews in marketing efforts. Now it’s ahead of the game again, as travel agencies embrace new ways of taking payments, providing experiences, marketing their services and keeping up with the consumer.

And keeping up with the consumer is crucial: people used to visit travel agencies, then it was all about online travel agents like booking.com – now some clever companies are showing us what’s next.

Here are four startups (and institutions) we think are taking travel into the future. Watch out – before you’ve finished reading, you might just have booked your next getaway.

flash-pack-lee-rio

1. The Flash Pack

This boutique holiday company offers small group holiday adventures for single travellers in their thirties and forties.

The Flash Pack was started by husband and wife duo Lee Thompson and Radha Vyas who now offer holidays paddleboarding in Slovenia, vespa riding in Spain, trekking in Peru, or marathon running in Uganda. Their breaks are a world away from 18-30s holidays or the 50+ Saga cruise.

Lee, who used to be a photojournalist, makes sure there are no stock photos on the site. He also was instrumental in the stunt that got the Flash Pack on the map: he climbed up Christ the Redeemer in Rio, just before the World Cup, and took a selfie overlooking the megacity. 10,000 backlinks later, the travel company is at the top of the search rankings.

2. Cottages.com:

Cottages.com has over 19,726 properties across the UK, France, Italy and Ireland.

The brand knows the importance of word of mouth – offline and on (i.e. reviews) – and is using Reevoo to make sure its customers trust the authenticity of the reviews they are basing their holiday choices on.

Cottages

A brand that has such a wide variety of ‘products’ needs a reviews solution which is adaptable, and advises and informs the customer through the entire purchase journey. Since working with Reevoo, Cottages.com has seen its conversion rate triple for review readers. Read the case study here.

3. Thomas Cook

Yes, Thomas Cook, the supplier of the travel equivalent of flat-pack furniture, is a disruptive travel company. They have been offering virtual reality tours of New York, Rhodes and Cyprus since 2014.

Travel companies are plunging into virtual reality, implementing new finance solutions, putting UGC at the forefront. - Highlight to share -

In an article in Travel Weekly, Sabre Labs – the travel and technology innovation lab – found three uses for VR specifically relating to travel agencies.

“It’s an inspirational shopping tool for clients; it’s a product training tool for agents; and it is an opportunity to advertise alongside VR content that is either directly or indirectly related to travel.”


4. Airbnb

Talking about travel institutions, Airbnb feels like one now. It’s mad to think it only started in 2008.

The startup has carried on innovating and offering experiences that are increasingly one in a kind. Earlier this year it ran a UGC competition of its own. If you explained why you’re Guinness’s biggest fan (yes, UGC again) you could spend an evening in ‘Ireland’s most exclusive bedroom’.

Travel seems to be leading the game. Travel companies are plunging into virtual reality, implementing new finance solutions, putting UGC at the forefront and offering tailored experiences that customers now expect whatever they’re buying. 

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4 travel agencies disrupting the game