Tripadvisor Tests Consumer-To-Travel Agent Paid Service
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw
Tripadvisor is working on a new platform called Reco that connects consumers to "travel designers" who plan and book their travels.
The service gives travellers access to a portfolio of agents for a US$199 fee each time.
Tripadvisor says the project is a beta test in the U.S. and other than expecting to roll out more fully "in the coming months", it is sharing little about its strategy or finer details as yet, according toPhocuswire.
Despite being in the "beta" phase, plans are in place for a social media push.
It may seem strange that Tripadvisor is pushing out the platform in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, but Reco says now is the perfect environment to connect travellers with trusted professionals.
"As destinations reopen, we want to provide our community with a trusted source to help you get back out there and travel confidently," writes Reco on itswebsite.
"With Reco’s expert Trip Designers, you and your trip are in good hands. Reco Trip Designers have deep roots and connections in the places you want to go and within the travel and hospitality industry, so they will offer you ongoing support and be there to get you through any bumps in the road."
Here's how Reco works: travellers 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 selection of "Trip Designers" with expertise in those areas.
Users then "hire" their preferred agent for US$199 and the Trip Designer customizes, plans and books the trip.
On its website, Reco says Trip Designers "take it all on and coordinate every last detail. They'll have your back from start to finish, so you can travel confidently with ease" and use their "insider knowledge and connections" to get value for their customers.
Agent profiles list “perks” they can share with their clients, like free breakfasts, spa deals, cruise cabin upgrades and others.
The $199 fee also includes unlimited on-platform messaging and phone calls with the agent, a personalized travel plan, bookings and reservations for accommodations and activities, restaurant recommendations, and ongoing support.
The website notes that "non-standard" trips (such as destination weddings or extended travels that span a month or more) may require additional fees.
Reco says there is a vetting process for its Trip Designers that may include identity verification, review of professional licenses and accreditations, ensuring they hold liability insurance, a live interview and other criteria.
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.