In part 1 we discussed how the idea for Toristy came about after a lot of iterations of the idea. Now I want to describe what Toristy is all about from a business perspective and why you might find it interesting if you're in the travel industry. Rather than make this article a sales pitch about what Toristy is I thought I'd explain how the service has evolved based on what we learned.
As I outlined in part 1, we built a marketplace called pedal.world to understand the problems with developing a platform. We started off thinking that in the travel and destination marketing area there was a big opportunity to do things better than they are done today. We found a lot of online travel agencies (OTAs) that get you to a place, get you somewhere to sleep, but then its up to the traveller to find things to do once they're there.
We figured if we could build pedal world to allow a user to book a hotel, rent a service (in this case a mountain bike rental), buy an event ticket, or hire a guide we'd be looking at 4 main areas that needed to be covered for activity marketing. With decades of experience between us in "doing digital" with thought this would be easy, right?
It sounded so easy!
Well it wasn't. There is a good reason why this kind of thing hasn't been done all over the place. We looked at all sorts of different tools, Wordpress, Shopify & Sharetribe, being the first 3 contenders. None of them however did things we needed exactly the way we needed it to happen without a massive amount of development not only of specific features we'd need but integrating our code to the platforms. Shopify and a bunch of plugins was our proof of concept until we developed the main Toristy version of Pedal.
There were also things like Airbnb experiences, however its more like a potential sales channel partner for us as it's a closed platform.
Then we saw other online booking tools like Bókun and Johku but while they were a step in the direction we wanted to go, they still weren't exactly what we needed to run the service we envisioned. Johku is more designed for a small business, managing all payments and managing the profit and loss via integrations with tools like Netvisor. Bókun is close to what we wanted, but it doesn't provide traffic or sales to the people providing the activities, just the booking solution which also needed quite a bit of work to manage stock of rental items.
In future all of the tools we tested may be something that we integrate with but we still found we needed our own way to do things because there were two main problems we found with everything out there.
Problem 1 - Usability
Without going into the specifics of each tool, it required a lot of work from the service provider to integrate their offerings to the vendor they chose. Most entrepreneurs don't have time to manage complicated systems and we wanted to give them a head start from the beginning if we could.
Problem 2 - Lack of sales
The second issue was that while many platforms are affordable they aren't driving sales, simply providing the tools. It was still up to the service provider to manage integrating their website to the vendor and do the global marketing campaigns (competing with every big player out there).
We also saw a massive opportunity to help the bigger destination marketing companies and online travel agencies (OTAs). If we could provide activities from one place for OTAs that didn't have the capability they could develop a revenue stream from providing new services.
So we built Toristy to do that
Toristy constantly seeks out service providers (via APIs, web crawlers direct marketing) that might benefit by joining our platform. Once we have enough providers in different destinations we then approach enterprises that drive targeted travel related traffic to that destination and partner with them. They integrate our service into their website and we then ask the service provider to agree to terms for each enterprise site they want their service to be visible on.
The service provider may use our tools at cost on their own website too, so if they take a booking on their own website using Toristy embeddded widgets they only pay when a sale is made (which costs anywhere from 1 to around 3% depending on the payment service option the service provider chooses). This makes us a little different from the other players out there as we're trying to make everyone a winner.
Win, win and win
The service provider (say the bike rental company or the fishing charter captain) wins because he doesn't have to do expensive marketing to fill their calendar with bookings. He can simply enter his services into Toristy and we will sign him up to as many relevant websites where his services apply. He can also use Toristy to manage his own sales and stock from his own website at cost without doing any integrations to any payment providers or services other than Toristy.
The destination marketing company (the ferry, the airline, the online travel company) wins because they develop a new revenue stream and provide their visitors with relevant experiences in the locations they operate. Toristy has a way to do this with no up front cost and therefore its a very a very low risk option for the enterprise.
Toristy wins by earning a percentage when payments are made by customers to the service providers.
As I said in part 1, I've been looking for ways to utilise data for the benefit of all the players we work with and we feel like this will work for everyone.
So that's what I'm up to
I'm now looking for business partners (we can always provide a win win for an agency or a sales guy).
I'm looking for investors to help us grow the service beyond the scope it's at today helping us get more development power.
I'm even looking for people to tell me I'm nuts and point out where it will all go wrong - I have had a dozen of those conversations already and they all keep me awake at night, Thanks :). I'm looking for enterprises who want to generate new revenue streams.
Finally I'm looking for service providers whom will be the main beneficiaries of our service to sign up, tell their friends in the industry and tell us how to make Toristy better. Our service is in beta now and you can sign up or claim your business if it's already in our database at https://toristy.com.
So that is our vision for Toristy. We hope you like it too.