Web tour and activity marketplace heats up as Azurever stakes claim
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring France-based tour and activity platform Azurever.
Who and what are you?
Azurever is an aggregation platform which compares tours and activities from many providers (such as Expedia, Viator, Isango, Octopus, City-discovery and thematic operators in opera, trekking, etc) and is focused on answering european market specific needs (multilingual translation, development of european favorites destinations).
Azurever is an open platform specifically designed to be used by other portals through distribution partnerships.
- Arnaud Calteau – has worked for ten years in the e-tourism market and launched self-financed destination guides.
- Collin Moretto – former consultant, worked in improving banks and companies online performance.
We are both travel freaks, always looking for original and unique experiences. As French travelers, we found it was very difficult to find activities in our mother tongue and in our favorites destinations.
So we decided to launch a portal that could help other european travelers like us to find the best deals and personalized activities on their travel spots.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We self-financed the first steps of the project and since 2010 we have been funded by business angels for our international development.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Tours and activities market is actually focused on American travelers needs. It is also very fragmented with a lot of actors and poor comparison features.
Azurever helps european travelers to find unique experiences, in their mother tongue and at the best price.
We want to develop European markets with unique features, accessible through our portal and a network of partners websites. So far, we have more than 200,000 unique visitors looking at our catalog each month.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Azurever is offering a one-stop shopping area when visiting a tourist destination.
- Loca expertise: We select, traduce and compare the best activities from the biggest resellers and producers to adapt them to local tourism markets in Europe.
- Rich content: We have the most extensive catalogue on the European market (more than 15,000 tours and activities) mixing free content and pre-packaged activities.
- Multi-support: We are developing social media widgets and mobile applications to offer access to our content from every channel and every location.
We have also built a distribution program with a selection of European websites. Our first partnership is with Via Michelin Voyage, launched at the end of May 2011. Several other projects are coming up.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
- B2C: Travelers looking for unique experience at their holidays spots (www.azurever.co.uk)
- B2B: Any website that wants to provide activities, but mainly european travel guide websites and e-tourism portals (hotels chains, airline companies).
After launching in the French market in 2010, we opened our English version this year. We are planning launches of our Spanish, Italian and German versions at the end of 2011.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we verified the concept with a panel of 100,000 visitors. The metrics were good enough to validate the concept.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Commission fees by the distributors or the producers of each activity. Revenue sharing with our partnership programs.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We’re specialized on the European market and with translation features.
- Expansion in French, Italian, Spanish and German speaking areas where big players don’t have a strong presence yet.
- We are going fast and we built a 15,000-product catalog in less than a few months.
- A strong network of partnerships to distribute our products.
- New company with no established brand name. We need to develop recognition via partnerships to enhance our visibility.
- The activities market is a fast growing segment, specifically in Europe.
- Customers are getting more and more comfortable with searching and booking experiences on-line.
- Time to market – there are a number of big travel websites with huge marketing budgets ready to get into this emerging market, when it is mature enough.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
A few professionals argued that “destination dervices” is huge hassle for small money and the competition will be dramatic when the market starts. This is true, but with our business model the more competition, the better.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Close to break-even. 500,000 visitors per month, with an active and happy travelers community.
Claude is a contributing Node to Tnooz, consultant and seasoned blogger hailing from Marseille, France. Claude started his career in tourism as a technical sales manager for a Marseille-based tour operator.
He then spent six years as a sales executive at Louvre Hotels group, before discovering the tremendous potential of the internet for the marketing of hotels and tourism.
Claude then became the sales and marketing manager for a regional booking engine for the Marseille Chamber of Commerce and DMO’s.
He now handles consulting and training for hotels and other DMOs. Claude manages his blog HoteliTour.