Tuesday, February 06, 2007

BOMST- Interview with AsiaTravelMarket founder

After my initial post on AsiaTravelMarket, had an opportunity today to speak with Global Travel Market CEO Dave Simmons on his thoughts about travel meta-search and plans for the company.

You will remember (or not) my initial recommendations to AsiaTravelMarket were to:
  • ensure that they added more content/inventory/suppliers to their search results;
  • bring a booking engine to the front page; and
  • potentially to re-think the name to avoid confusion with the other companies that have the words "AsiaTravel" in their name.
Dave and I had a very constructive conversation on all three of these. He made a couple of good points in reply to my comments which I will share with you:
  1. The targeted nature of AsiaTravelMarket (and the sister sites like AustraliaTravelMarket) creates a very attractive audience for advertisers, especially tourist bureaus and CVBs. More so - he claims - than a generalist meta-search companies;
  2. The platform is very modular, making it a great vehicle for building white-label sites for customers. Quotes the Malaysian Tourism Office's commissioning of GTM building MalaysiaTravelMarket - opening up dramatically different revenue streams that those accessed by the generalists; and
  3. Their competitors in each source market (ie the UK versions of Expedia, eBookers, Lastminute) continue to under-invest in destination information and destination focused services especially in Asia.
I agree with all those points (except to the extent that Expedia is trying to more combine its TripAdvisor content and Expedia booking power as evidence by the recent buzz around the "deal" between the two). However I cautioned him on doing too much to target the customers he thinks he wants (very destination focused, very comfortable with multiple paths to information and content, very adept at using meta-search) and potentially ending up a market base that while very niche and lucrative is not large enough to achieve scale. We also agreed to disagree on the brand issue.

On the corporate side he shared with me that they plan to be cash flow positive within six months. Current operations are funded out of angel and founder rounds including and investment from Peter Wade (founder of Travelbag in the UK).

Dave and team have clearly thought through their model and plans. I look forward to hearing more.

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