A bug’s life. Travelstart stories 16/30. 10 years of relentless innovation


I happen to
believe that the world is a much better place with online travel players such
as Travelstart around. There are purists who believes the opposite, that we are
just parasites. I agree to a certain degree but even a bug fulfils a higher
purpose in nature. So lets look at a bug’s life.

First of
all the online travel companies’ drives innovation. And to prove this case we
should go back some + ten years to show. In the US before there was PC travel,
1travel, Travelocity and a whole bunch of others that I forgot the name of,
there was nothing. In Scandinavia before there was Easy T, Mrjet,  Travelstart, there was … nothing. The
airlines did nothing. The old school agencies did nothing (they still don’t).
The online travel agencies invented what to sell, how to present it and how to
market it (even though the latter came years later).  In many parts of the world the airlines still doesn’t do
anything online and they are run by some gents sitting at country clubs sippi.jpgng
rum and coke while the customers are paying too much.

I also
happen to believe that hundreds of global online travel CEO´s + teams outsmart
a handful of airline directors who mostly deal with politics (except the occasional
Ryan Air gladiators, of this world).

products that we come up with are soon copi.jpged by the airlines. In our markets
Travelstart have always led the way when it comes to innovation. I have lots of
examples how our company have innovated; we were the first to realize and use
the power and future opportunity in meta search, the first to invest in social
networks, the absolute first to offer ancillary products to name a few. Here’s
an example of one of the least digital products that we came up with; in 2005
we launched a very simple product called “service pack”. We knew that most
online customers just wanted a simple ticket but realized that some wanted some
type of service. We came up with an add on product called “service pack” for
those who wanted best of both worlds, high tech and high touch. This way we
kept the low low fares for those that wanted just the ticket and gave an option
to those who wanted a bit more. Brilliant I must say. It became an immediate
big seller, and it grows every month as people realise the true value when
paying a tiny 15€ to get access to all the customer service you would in the
old world, with the online convenience. Our local competitors were quick to
follow suite. The airlines still haven’t copi.jpged and probably still don’t get

the OTA´s are consumer champi.jpgons. You might not think that it’s such a big deal.
But airlines go bankrupt far, far more often than agencies. When airlines have
problems, be it delays or cancelled flights or when they practice unfair
marketing pricing it is always the agencies that cleans up the mess. Airlines
are generally great for the top tier of their customer base, the gold, diamond,
platinum, and plutonium cardholders. Generally they want the agencies to take
care of the rest of the s&%t, which is 90 of the cabin.  You and me. Don’t get any ideas, you
are a liability to the airline and they really don’t want to deal with you when
you are a bargain hunter. There are airlines with different attitudes; the Southwest’s
of this world and they are doing extremely well.

Agencies answers mails, phones, chats, issues tickets, fixes airline errors,
schedule changes etc etc etc. And what we charge for this is next to nothing.
Most of us make money selling ancillary services that you are free to choose.

online travel agencies drive sales through innovation in distribution.

You will
find online travel companies just about anywhere. Travelstart and other OTA´s
champi.jpgoned advertising via Google, affiliate sales, search engine optimization,
newsletter clubs, comparison-shoppi.jpgng and what have you. Still to this day
airlines are battling with how to reach new customers.

Fourth Online
travel companies drives transparency. It is fair to say that without us there
would be very little competition and the world of aviation would fall to a Biff
Tannen state of corruption and under the table deals to keep high fares up and
competition to an absolute minimum.

OTA´s have
champi.jpgoned all-inclusive fares and some airlines still do all they can to hide fees
and taxes.

So to
conclude this evenings post about Travelstart stories I am happy to conclude
that we, and competitors, have made this world a better place, in the words of
Michael Jackson. We have made more choices available to more people with better
distribution, transparency with distinct customer advocacy. And considering
that the aviation industry is an economic driver and one of the largest
industries in the world, it’s not really such a bad thing.

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