Last Friday, Halifax’s Trip Ninja integrated its travel-planning platform with Galileo, a computer reservations system owned by the international travel service company TravelPort.
It was one more step in a three-year process in an entrepreneurial journey that began when co-founder Andres Collart tried booking a trip to several European cities and learned of the difficulties in doing so. Since then, he and his three partners have been pushing forward, producing a product and learning the intricacies of the international travel industry. And by the end of August, they hope to sign their first online travel agency as a client — a deal that could mean significant revenue for the young company.
“We’re not an online travel agency,” Collart told an audience of about 350 people at the Dalhousie LaunchPad Demo Day last week. “But with Trip Ninja it’s easy to provide any person with a personalized trip created just for them.”
Trip Ninja serves people who want to travel to several different cities in a single trip and don’t care about the order in which they visit these locations. Three years ago, Collart himself wanted to travel to five different European cities and found there were 120 possible combinations of flights. There was no online travel agent that would help someone planning a multi-city trip.
What Trip Ninja does is take someone’s travel dates plus the cities they want to visit and plot the trip to find the lowest-cost flights. The company does not have the certification to issue tickets so it is partnering with online and traditional travel agents to provide better service to multi-stop travelers.
The company has its website up and running, and consumers can now use Trip Ninja to plan their multi-city trip, then book the trip on the phone with Halifax travel agency United Travels.
But Collart and his co-founders — Brett Ziegler, Rob Dumont and Julieta Collart — want their product used in the international online market. So they are beginning to strike partnerships and licensing deals with major partners that can use the company’s application program interface, or API, to better serve their clients.
One of the biggest steps forward was getting on the TravelPort platform. Based in Langley, U.K., TravelPort offers a range of services to the international travel industry, has connections with 400 airlines and brings in more than US$2 billion in revenue each year.
Trip Ninja is now on the TravelPort marketplace and its API has been fully integrated with two TravelPort products – Apollo and (as of Friday) Galileo.
The Halifax company is now in talks with some online travel agencies. Signing even one would dramatically change its revenue picture. It has funded the company so far only through investments from the founders, and is not looking for external capital now. These deals could bring in the money it needs to grow.
“We’re already in talks with a bunch of smaller ones, and some that are pretty large,” said Andres Collart. “The minimum that we’re looking at is that they’d bring in $60,000 every year (in revenue for Trip Ninja). . . . We expect to sign first of these in late August and it’s well above the minimum.”