Q&A with TripAlertz founder Brendan Murphy
TripAlertz is a membership-based travel site that uses volume and collective buying to give members the best price on airfare and hotel. The Boston-based company was founded in 2010.
SUB: How would you describe TripAlertz in a few sentences?
Murphy: TripAlertz.com is a private, members-only travel site that uses the power of collective buying to deliver our members the guaranteed best prices. Once booked, travelers have the option to meet & share advice with their fellow travelers via our collaboration page to make the most of their travel experience. For our grand launch, we are offering members the chance to win a free trip to space! Check it out at www.tripalertz.com/space. Free and takes seconds.
SUB: What inspired this concept?
Murphy: Travel and social are the perfect match. One could argue that TripAdvisor was the first social network. Today’s travel sites make travel a transaction, a robotic process that takes everything we love out of it. Through the inherent power of social media, we saw the ability to create the best prices, experiences, and travel advice. When this site hits critical mass, the benefits will continue to increase.
SUB: Brief us on the user experience from logging on to purchasing to participating socially with other users.
Murphy: Users create a membership account, free of charge, and once logged on can view and browse the live and upcoming travel deals. Once members purchase a deal, they will receive an SMS TripAlertz when the price drops. After purchase, members get private access to a collaboration page to meet and share advice with their fellow buyers. For example, where is the best nightlife? Should I rent a car? Our members get advice from people who have a vested interest in the success of the trip. There is so much more, so check it out at www.tripalertz.com/space.
SUB: What initial steps were taken to launch the site and service?
Murphy: The most important step was recruiting a team of travel, social media, and technology experts. We have an incredible team that is ready to take the site to the next level with this grand launch. With a solid team in place, we spend our days evaluating the best steps to incrementally grow the business, and the opportunity to launch space travel was a no brainer.
SUB: What is your business model? How do you make money?
Murphy: We take a cut of each transaction on the site. We also generate revenue from our concierge recommendations on our pre-trip collaboration pages. According to PhocusWright, the in-destination travel activities market is a $27 billion market, so we are aggressively targeting that opportunity.
SUB: What are the advantages of using TripAlertz, in terms of cost savings, as opposed to other travel sites like PriceLine and TripIt?
Murphy: Priceline is an opaque site, wherein you do not know where you are staying until your credit card has been charged and there are no refunds. On TripAlertz, your discount is virtually identical (25-60 percent), yet, you know where you are staying and you can cancel up to 15 days before travel for a $25 cancellation fee.
TripIt does some travel deals, yet their primary focus is organizing your travel confirmation e-mails into one easy-to-use format. A great service that I love, just different than what we do.
SUB: How do you see TripAlertz expanding in the market? Where would you imagine it to be as a company five years from now?
Murphy: The vision for TripAlertz is to bring like-minded travelers together to experience the world, while also delivering the absolute best value online. We see TripAlertz as an experience-focused travel site, as opposed to a commodity site like the major online travel agents. With our blend of Travel and Social, we feel we will expand globally in relatively quick fashion. I like to imagine hundreds of thousands of travelers experiencing the world at the same time. Makes me happy…
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point? Do you plan to do so or raise more in the near future?
Murphy: We have raised $1.25 million in funding to date from Conscious Living Ventures and syndicate of wealthy angel entrepreneurs. We are always looking for the right strategic money to grow the business, and we are in talks with several investors.
SUB: Describe your space travel promotion. How is TripAlertz involved with the burgeoning space travel business?
Murphy: Our goal is to be a pioneer in space travel. We do not build the technology like our partner XCOR Aerospace, yet, we are passionate about creating awareness for the next frontier in travel. Every day I imagine what it would be like to stay in a hotel on the way to the moon. Once this is possible, everyone will need more than two weeks’ vacation time to enjoy!
SUB: How are you marketing the site?
Murphy: We market the site through a combination of public relations, search, social media, and creative promotions like space travel. Travel marketing is a true joy…
SUB: Finally, a question I always ask: as an entrepreneur who has weathered the down economy and built a growing business, what advice do you have for those just starting out—especially in an economy that remains less than dynamic?
My advice is not to give into any limiting belief systems. There will always be reasons not to go after your dream, and just remember, the essence of entrepreneurship is finding solutions to any issues put in your way. You will have to recommit to your project hundreds of times. That’s what makes it so much fun, and at the same time, I highly recommend you take care of your body. The entrepreneur’s energy and passion is what fuels innovation, so stay healthy and vibrant, and your chances of success will increase.
TripAlertz – www.tripalertz.com