British vacation packager Lowcostholidays.com launched its consumer website in the U.S. last week with an aggressive pricing approach the company hopes will help it compete in an already well-established online consumer travel marketplace.
“We’re quite aggressive in terms of our buying,” said Paul Evans, CEO of Lowcosttravelgroup.com
, which owns Lowcostholidays as well as the B2B website Lowcostbeds.com
. “We put money down with hotels in order to secure stock at favorable rates.”
The Gatwick, England-based Lowcosttravelgroup was founded in 2004 by Evans, who set up the business from his bedroom after working for some of the country’s large tour operators.
Frustrated with the lack of choice and build-your-own vacation options for consumers, Evans created an online travel business around Europe’s then-burgeoning low-cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet, and eventually grew the website to include hotels, transfers, travel insurance and other vacation add-ons.
Lowcostholidays now sells more than 200,000 hotels and 250 airlines on its website, which is available in 12 countries, including most recently in the U.S.; the new U.S. site can be found at us.lowcostholidays.com
And “low cost” has become just a name at this point, with the company offering everything from budget to five-star accommodations.
The company has more than 400 employees and inventory in 45 countries.
A large, competitively priced inventory combined with ease of booking and customer service is what Evans is hoping will make the site a success in the U.S., a market already served by countless consumer booking sites.
While Lowcostholidays already had a strong product offering in Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe prior to entering the U.S. market, the company had to beef up its domestic U.S. product.
“Twenty-seven percent of Americans actually [vacation] domestically,” Evans said. “We really spent the last year learning and putting all of our fires investing in America.”
He noted that Americans also like to book name brands, companies like Marriott and Starwood, “whereas in Europe that’s actually not quite so big.”
Evans expects that about 70% of the company’s U.S. business will be domestic travel.
Lowcostholidays will begin its U.S. marketing campaign through digital channels and through partnership marketing with tourism boards and travel suppliers.
The move to launch Lowcostholidays comes on the heels of the company’s introduction of its B2B website Lowcostbeds.com to U.S. travel agents earlier this year. Claiming to have already registered more than 16,000 agents, the website sells travel products through travel agencies and tour operators.
Lowcostbeds pays 15% commission. Agents can take payment from their clients and pay Lowcostbeds, minus the 15% commission, or Lowcostbeds will process the customer’s credit card payment and pay agents their commission after the client’s travel.
Lowcosttravelgroup has an office in Atlanta and a U.S. call center, which can be reached at (888) 705-1246.Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.