Tripadvisor quietly tests consumer-to-travel agent service Reco

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Behind the scenes at Tripadvisor over the last few months, work has commenced on a new platform to connect consumers to "travel designers" who will plan and book their trip.

The service, known as Reco, works on both desktop and via a smartphone app for Apple devices, giving travelers access to a portfolio of agents for a $199 fee each time.

Tripadvisor says the project is a beta test in the U.S. and is sharing little about its strategy or finer details as yet.

Travelers select dates for a trip, length of stay, type (getaway, festival, reunion, cruise, etc.), budget range, interests and "vibe" (romantic, spiritual, chill, etc.) and then Reco offers a range of matches to agents with expertise in those areas.

Users are then able to select an agent, learn about their experience, contact and start to build an itinerary and book a trip.

Reco says the agents will book and coordinate the traveler's details for the trip and handle any issues.

It says there is a vetting process for its "trip designers" to pass before they are able to join the platform.

They will face a number of checks, including a review of any professional licenses or accreditation that they hold, liability insurance, recommendations and host agencies.

Tripadvisor is not saying much so far about Reco, only that it is a "new concept in travel planning that we're considering rolling our more fully in the coming months."

Despite the "beta" test nature of the project, plans are in place for a social media push.

The Twitter handle for the Tripadvisor-owned Jetsetter service, which was bought in 2013, appears to have transferred to a new @HelloReco account a few months ago, giving it close to 48,000 followers.

The concept of using a central web point to connect consumers to real-life travel agencies has been around for over a decade but has seen a number of high-profile collapses along the way.

Tripology, under the tutelage of John Peters, had a portfolio of 14,000 travel agents signed up to its platform at one point. It eventually sold to map brand Rand McNally in 2010 for an undisclosed fee but was closed in 2015.

Travel agent lead-generation platform TripScope was born in 2014 and sold to Travefy in 2017, a travel agent technology platform. The consumer-facing element of TripScope was later closed.

Now-defunct travel agency and tour operating giant Thomas Cook inked a deal with Triporati, a virtual agency platform, in 2013. It's not known how long the partnership lasted.

Business travel management service Lola also started life as a mobile-based agent connection tool.

One brand that has stayed the course in Travel Triangle, an India-based agent service, which was founded in 2011 and has since gone on to raise over $45 million in funding.  

On the question of previous attempts in a similar vein that have failed, a Tripadvisor official says the company is "always testing ways we can better serve travelers. The global reach and trust of the Tripadvisor brand gives us a strong advantage."

Source: PhocusWire

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