Bridging the gap between online searches and expert travel agents, new start-up Nemo Travel, which launches in September, is a luxury trip planning service for itinerary building. Globetrender speaks with co-founder Tom Harding about why young professionals and honeymooners, in particular, will find its service useful.
Why is it innovative?
We believe the luxury travel sector is a bit behind when it comes to tech and have built an intelligent, easy-to-use website that can communicate our expertise.
It works in two ways, firstly we inspire through our search tool which asks you three simple questions before suggesting a range of itineraries. Secondly, our unique itinerary builder enables users to pick and choose hotels and activities that work for them in terms of price and style, as well as being able to control the duration of their stay in each place.
We’re trying to bridge the gap between the online travel agents and the full consultation approach, as we believe people increasingly want to be involved in the design of their itinerary.
Crucially, we also understand the value of human interaction and we are on hand 24/7 if our clients have any questions. Finally, we want to continue to innovate and the initial website is just the start, we’ve got lots of ideas for future products and add-ons.
What inspired you to launch it?
Nemo was born out of client frustrations. Both my co-founder James Wales and I have worked in luxury travel for a number of years now, both with luxury tour operators and in hotel management. Increasingly, given the amount of resources available, we found clients were taking the advice of travel agents but still double checking everything online, making for an inefficient process.
Nemo aims to take the stress out of trawling through endless tabs or trying to find ten minutes to chat to a travel agent on your lunch break. We aim to empower travellers and, hopefully, put a bit of fun back into holiday planning.
What problem is Nemo Travel setting out to solve?
Essentially, we want to increase efficiency and fun in the holiday planning process. No one wants the planning of a holiday to drag out over the course of a few weeks and have a travel agent in their ear to get things booked when they are not 100 per cent comfortable.
By getting as much input as possible through the itinerary builder, we also believe we can deliver the perfect trip, at the perfect price, for our clients and reduce human error and/or miscommunication.
How do you build a trip using the platform?
Our itinerary builder is easy to navigate and visually very engaging. Once a client has selected the Nemo itinerary that they like the look of, they can work through the trip, selecting the hotel and activities that they want to enjoy.
All of the prices are transparent and we aim to provide a range of five to six hotels in each place so you can control where your budget goes. As before, we are always on hand to help out through a chat-bot, email or a call.
Who is it aimed at?
Initially, we think Nemo will be really popular with young professional couples and honeymooners. This is due to a number of different reasons, namely the fact that both partners really want their holiday/honeymoon to be perfect, and they both want to have involvement in the planning process.
Given busy work schedules, this can be tricky to do between 9am and 5pm and, therefore, lots of people end up settling for something they found online or a “tailored” itinerary that is not quite perfect. The platform is, of course, available for everyone and we can be as hands-on in terms of planning as people want.
What did your time at Black Tomato teach you about what people want from the travel experience today?
The big one is that people do still want advice and experts to help them plan their trips but, given the vast resources available, it can be hard for them to know which route to go. Black Tomato are phenomenally good at delivering out of this world travel experiences to their clients and if we can be talked about in the same breath, we are doing something right.
How is it different from Black Tomato?
Our trips will run in a similar way once the client is travelling. Exceptional hotels, great guides and special perks along the journey for being a Nemo client, as well as the knowledge that the trip is financially protected and that an expert is on hand 24/7.
The differences come in the planning process and we are definitely not naive enough to say one method is right or wrong. Different people like different things and we are providing a new way to plan a luxury holiday that combines expert advice with high quality tech.
In what ways is Nemo Travel an ethical company?
Ethical travel is entwined into everything we do, from a full paperless policy (expect a slick app to view your trip, not a 30 page brochure) to our partnership with Hello World. We give 1 per cent of our profits to Hello World, an incredible charity who connect severely marginalised communities with the modern world.
Through solar powered, community built internet hubs, they provide education to some of the planet’s most impoverished people. James’s dad has also pledged to help us plant 1 tree for every trip we sell so hopefully we will have a Nemo forest one day that we can be proud of.
How are you helping avoid over tourism to popular destinations?
This is a huge talking point at the moment in the luxury travel industry and we are passionate about preserving the incredible parts of the world our clients visit.
A big one is encouraging guests to travel in “shoulder” or “low” season. I am a safari fanatic and have long believed that getting to the top reserves outside of the peak periods is the way forward, hopefully with Nemo people can see the benefits both in terms of the price and the experience.
How many and what kinds of partners do you have?
In each country that we operate in, we hand hand-picked the very best travel partners to ensure our trips are delivered by the very best, local people.
We worked incredibly closely with each partner to select the hotels and activities that are featured on our website and learnt a lot in the process.
Again, we are not naive to think we know everything there is to know about our chosen destinations. By pooling together the knowledge of a team of staff on the ground, we are confident and proud to say that the website is packed full of expertise far beyond just the Nemo team.
What travel trends and emerging destinations do you predict for 2020 and beyond?
We think a big one is going to be the consciousness of travelling abroad. Whether this is in terms of carbon footprint or from a human standpoint, people are becoming very aware and wanting to aid, rather than damage the problems associated with travel.
With this, we predict a shift away from taking several “mini-breaks” to one longer and meaningful trip. These trips will also need to be more than just sitting on a beach and people will want to get really stuck into the local culture and communities.
In terms of destinations, Turkey is having a re-birth at the moment and there are some really cool hotels opening in some of the lesser known areas. The safari scene continues to boom and Kenya is experiencing a bit of a post-Lion King boom, which is great news for the country.