Today, 85% of Kiwi couples plan their travel online.
To contextualize how significant that is, in 2020, some 35k searches and bookings were produced through travel apps every week.
Now, those corny roadie trip photos, support local campaigns, do something new NewZealand and hot dog leg poolside snaps Tourism NZ are mocking are about to make Graham Bloxham– Wellington in your pocket’s founder — a player in the huge travel sector and start up challenger amongst some of the biggest platforms in the world: The startup is prepping for a launch mid 2020.
Wellington in your pocket was founded in Lockdown one by Bloxham on the basis the current platforms are awful.
… after booking a trip to Rotorua took 5 hours with 17 tabs and 6 sites open and no way of glueing it all together or sharing the trip to get feedback. Knowing IT he decided to build something to make it easier.
He launched Wellington in your pocket as an antidote to antiquated travel search site norms (e.g., you have to go to 5 sites and open many tabs to get your info and none of it is glued together. This coupled with booking sites making it hard to get refunds. On the app, “our guests” as he calls them, can plan a trip, glue it all together, collaborate with others before booking and end up with a bundle sort of itinerary that is useful.
The approach is set to take off
A review of the company’s feature set shows a number of strengths:
- Brand: Wellington in your pocket allows you to build up your experience across multi sites, places and categories and ask others coming on the adventure to collaborate before booking and the company plans to win with 55% of new users from word-of-mouth.
- Market growth: The online travel market after covid rights itself is set to grow again exponentially. Tailwinds include people traveling more domestically, better pricing of activities, people chasing hidden gems which the company is focusing on, and increased online usage.
- Freemium opportunity: Users are after content in one place and happy using freemium platforms to plan and book themselves. Effectively taking out the travel agent layer.
- Social & sharable: The company has purchased some huge social media audiences. It now has 1.5M followers in NZ and will grow up to 2.0 M and wants 10 M in Australia and 25 m in the UK. Users can build up trips and share or collaborate before booking causing natural spread and after their trip they can gloat further showing the apps usefulness and naturally promoting the service.
- Features & UX: Wellington in your pocket is the first to offer a shareable bundl-ing engine for their guests to build up and have their trip in one screen. All content in one place.
- Tangential products: Wellington in your pocket plans to capitalise on its opportunity by launching Bundle marketplace(networking and collaboration for operators) and Bundle BFF (travel friendships). Bundle and Earn(earn income by sharing and selling trips directly to your bases)
The online travel industry opportunity is big
But one of Wellington in your pocket’s largest competitors, Expedia Group and Booking Holdings reported gross bookings of $99 billion and $92 billion, respectively, and various other sites dominate Google search making it hard to get noticed.
TripAdvisor and Booking.com have actually been embroiled in bad publicity in the past over not returning money for bookings canceled and being found to be misrepresenting the quality of rooms and lying about last minute pricing to consumers.
Whatever the app’s long-term fortunes, one thing is for sure, finding experiences isnt easy and taking on the behemoth platforms isn’t either.
Let’s see if consumers are equally a-‘buzz’ with the company.