New York Travel company AllTheRooms has shared its top tips to help you get your travel startup off the ground. From not fearing new ideas, through to knowing what makes your idea different, here are their top tips:
All new startups are going to encounter bumps along the road, but if you have a good plan, realistic expectations and a cracking idea, you should have every chance of success. The world of travel startups is highly competitive and the road to the top is somewhat of a boneyard of good and bad ideas that all sunk for one reason or another. So what are the difference makers? Everyone can post pictures of private tropical beaches and cozy cabins perched high in the mountains, but what happens in the background that turns a good idea into a successful travel company? New-York-based travel startup AllTheRooms gives its top tips for a successful startup:
1. Don’t be afraid to admit an idea isn’t working
Even if you have a solid plan, you need to be fully flexible to navigate through anything that might be thrown your way. Successful startups make mistakes evolve and grow. Don’t be afraid of admitting that something isn’t working. Always be open to hearing suggestions from others, taking on feedback and making a constructive plan for how to move forward. Be sure to get out there and talk with other entrepreneurs. Ask questions and ask for advice. Know-it-alls and those who don’t abandon failing ideas drag startups down.
2. Why travel?
Sounds simple, right? You would be shocked at how many startups can mention why they’re in the world that they’re in. You have to show a passion for travel. Passion and expertise are what people will trust. We look at travel as the ultimate form of exploration and adventure and if we can help people achieve those dreams of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef or seeing the Northern Lights from a cabin in Iceland, then we go home happy that day. That has value to us and we like to emphasize that as much as we can.
3. Don’t fear new ideas
If an idea fails, naturally you’re going to need a new one right? Don’t be afraid of the exciting but untested ideas your coworkers are throwing around. Even if things seem to be going well, always take the opportunity to inject fresh ideas into the business. It’s important to experiment with new things and assess how they work and impact the startup. Trying new ideas is paramount to creating a great startup. Think of the journey to success as a zigzag to your end goal, not a straight line.
4. Be ready to tell your story at the drop of a dime
The start-up climb can be defined by quick windows of opportunities. Someone will ask you on the spot “so what do you do?”. Your twenty-second response could land an investor. It could mean that the person to whom you’re talking goes out and spreads the word. A bad pitch makes you forgettable. A great pitch can give your company that big break you’ve been looking for.
5. Create a strong brand
Creating a strong brand is key to building a successful startup. From a fresh website and mobile app through to a great logo and quality product, these are the ways to draw a loyal customer base and generate interest. When you give your pitch to a potential investor, they want to see “stuff” (for lack of a better word) that shows your company won’t blow away with the wind. This “stuff” has to be the spokes that all connect to your brand. Think of it as your base and your identity.
6. Have a contingency plan
Always have a contingency plan, especially when it comes to finances. If a backer pulls out or you have to spend money on unexpected items, such replacing equipment or stock, you’ll need to be ready to approach your backup. This might be a bank, a friend or family member, a small loans company or even a credit card to help get you through unexpected circumstances. Think of it as a safety net.
7. Never forget your goal
There will be times when you’ll find your startup in disarray. Pieces will be collapsing and employees (and maybe you) will start to focus on surviving until the next day. Unfortunately, surviving until the next day is not a sustainable strategy for a startup trying to climb the ladder. Use your goal as a unification point — something to rally around when the pieces are falling apart. Whether it’s a million monthly views to your website or a certain amount of capital raised, remembering the goal reminds your team of why they started this project. Sometimes going to the roots is the only way to rekindle a dying flame.
8. Stick to your guns
When you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to say “yes” if someone tries to get you to make a cheap deal. Stick to your guns and your prices. Be flexible to offer discounts and strike good deals, but say “no” to anyone that tries to get a deep discount. The more deep discounts you give, the more demanding the client can become.
9. Track spending
You’ll be spending money constantly at the beginning, from hiring full-time staff through to buying equipment. Be sure to track all spending logged, even the small amounts. Consider hiring an accountant as early as possible so they can help you keep track.
10. Know your competition
There’s no shortage of competition in the travel world. How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the travel world? Maintain a “spying” capability that keeps you up to date on what the competition is doing is essential. No what ideas are out, what’s working and what’s not. Factor all that information into your plans. Becoming obsessed with your competition will become distracting, but a sharp sense of what’s going on around you will prove extremely valuable.
11. Answer the “what makes you different?” question quickly
Here at AllTheRooms, we get the “aren’t you just like Trivago, Booking.com etc.?” question all the time. We pride ourselves on having the answer handy at all times. Because no, we’re not the same. Those sites only do hotels. We do hotels, Airbnbs, Couchsurfing and all forms of short-term rentals you can imagine and some you can’t. And we need you to know that. Any hesitation to this question will throw you in the pile with the rest of them. To make it you have to be different and you have to be able to explain how and fast.
Carmela is a Journalist from London. She quit the rainy UK and moved to Medellin, Colombia, where she is a Content Writer for Alltherooms.com
Also published on Medium.