Online Travel Agencies with Fareportal and CheapOair…
Sam Jain (bio), CEO/Founder of Fareportal, CheapOair and OneTravel.com, Board Chairman of Voyager HQ, joins Peter Crysdale (Co-Founder of ReCorp), Pavan Bahl (CEO of Open Source Business), Rob Sanchez (COO of Open Source Business), and Marc Raco (CPO of Open Source Business) for the first episode of Travel Is Your Business podcast.
Taking initiative to fill a gap, customer service, and introducing technology
In one of his few in-depth interviews ever, Jain covers why he started CheapOair to fill a gap in current digital online travel space, and because of the lack large contact center presence. How his background in business-to-business and customer service led to creating a digital online travel agency with a customer service focus, now the only OTA today with a toll free number on every web page, and more than 2,000 travel agents full time.
Turning a 4k debt on AmEx card into a huge business by trying to solve a dysfunction. his “coming to America” story inspired by a family jewelry business, an idea sparked by working a year for no money at a small travel agency, and buying tickets from wholesalers, the two worlds of published fares and consolidated wholesale net traded flights. The impact of Jain introducing technology with simple databases, and pivoting into an ecommerce business. Getting into the business with a model as a flight focused OTA, and providing a great user experience with a three step booking path and strong customer service, going up against four established players, and the complexity of the processes and transactions, such as 80,000 schedule changes per month.
Learning from pivots, user experience, and Voyager
Jain assertion that ecommerce is not complex when focused on product and having a depth of knowledge on one’s vertical, bootstrapping CheapOair as a pivot to go directly to the customer, a prior failed pivot, and lessons learned when getting into the hotel space. The importance of keeping focus on a core product and knowledge, and defending against OTA’s with cheaper flights with diversity of channels. How the entire seamless user experience is important from the beginning to post-transaction, and keeping target on getting repeat visitors to lower acquisition costs,
New technologies and the space being innovated, the new ability to book Amtrak, and focusing on mobile first. The Voyager incubator co-working space as an eyes and ears on innovation, looking at artificial intelligence, the value of the startup mindset, and a determination to tap into that talent pool.
Monkey commerce, dealing fruit, and global travels
The personal questions of Off the Beaten Path travels to Mathura, India, witnesses monkey commerce, dreams of a fruity excuse to go to Honolulu, and enjoys pizza in Nepal.