James Wales and Tom Harding say their new site, Nemo, will do away with many of the frustrations they think some travellers are experiencing in the trip planning process, such as “endless emails back and forth” between client and agent.
“Nemo gives the power back to the client to explore and create their itinerary themselves in a fun way using the trip planner, and shows them how the price shifts dynamically as they go along and adapt,” said Wales.
“Once they’re happy with what they have created, they submit it to us, but we’ll always be here for them along the way in the background anyway if they need us.”
“Our experience taught us that people want more control over the planning and more transparency on the pricing, and that’s what Nemo offers. [Clients] can play around with it more too; people often don’t even know where they want to go when they start planning a trip and the AI behind the site helps guide them, quicker than a human could,” added Harding.
Nemo will initially cover regions of the world the two specialised in at Black Tomato, such as India, Middle East, Africa, Japan and Europe, and features about 600 hotels and product sourced from a range of DMCs.
Wales and Harding said the destinations could expand in the future, such as South America and south-east Asia, and that they believe Nemo will be especially appealing for younger honeymooners planning exotic and creative trips.
“It’s something a couple can really sit down and use together to plan the trip, asking lots of questions of each other along the way and deciding between them – a process that could have taken a long time over several emails and calls with an agent before,” said Harding.
“It should also cut out a lot of those post-booking kind of add-ons and queries, as it just allows the client to build so much into the itinerary and planning process themselves. We feel our demographic is used to living in a world of quick-use apps, but no one else seemed to have been offering full-service travel in a quick and intuitive digital way that would appeal to them.”
He added that in luxury travel, few sites offered online booking – “it’s either pretty-looking tour operator sites or very busy-looking OTAs, but not much in between”.
The site is a shop window for now but launches fully in the first week of September with a mix of Google paid-search, social media and partnerships with luxury brands being utilised to spread the word.
The founders believe bookings will generally be an average of £4,000 per person. Nemo is Atol-bonded, but will not offer flights at launch.
“We will arrange any internal flights as part of the trip of course, but not international flights for now; we are looking at adding that on in the next phase. We’re also looking at being able to add live availability,” Wales said.
The company will also plant one tree for every trip booked and give 1% of all profits to Hello World, which provides WiFi-enabled, solar-powered ‘hubs’ for children in developing destinations where they can access world-class educational software online.
The two say they strove to keep their start-up as “bootstrapped as possible for now, using our own personal savings and a small amount from family and friends”.
“This approach has been pivotal to the brand and we are delighted we have done it this way round, giving us full control of the business and also meaning every penny spent is very carefully thought through,” said Harding.
“Ultimately, this approach led us to looking outside of London for our design work and to Greenbox Designs in Cape Town, which has been a crucial to building the brand and website. They just ‘got’ what we wanted to achieve straight away.”
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