A one-stop shop for dynamically packaged events
If you ask Joseph Demarinis what BookSeats.com is all about, he’ll tell you the following: “BookSeats.com is custom flights, accommodations and ticket packages to events around the world provided at an all-in-one price for a full package.”
Demarinis told Canadian Travel Press that: “The big thing for us is it doesn’t have to be all three elements. You can come to BookSeats.com for just tickets to events or just flights or just accommodations. And what we do is, we basically pass off the savings that we receive from our partners by making the rates opaque, so making it all in one, and we get some breaks with our partners by doing so.”
The founder and CEO of the new initiative, explained further that: “BookSeats.com focuses on the event, specifically. You build your package around an event, whether you just need a hotel and tickets or all three elements. We offer customers a lot of added values in terms of automatically populating the closest international airport to that event. We know the dates and times [of the event]. We offer hotels close to the venue or close to the city centre. We offer estimated Uber rates to the venue from the hotel. And a lot of small things and details that one currently has to do on their own.”
Clearly, this is a good idea that’s time has come, and it’s one that Demarinis has had for awhile.
He told CTP: “I have family ties and a long background in the travel space and I have a passion for sports, entertainment, music, etc. I went to school for Sport Management at Brock University. Worked in the sport sponsorship and brand marketing area for a few years, and essentially, it [BookSeats.com] was an idea that started back in university, to be honest with you, of trying to find ways why there wasn’t opportunities to sell event-based travel packages.”
He said that at that time, there were some companies putting together events trips, “but they were more like bus tours, there wasn’t a way to dynamically package such things, and I was, I guess, one of the target markets of something like this and [it was] something I would do and [it was] something I would plan, and I was always kind of that friend that had to plan it all.”
So about two and a half years ago, while he was working at RedTag, Demarinis began slowly building BookSeats.com. The company has partnered with Vivid Seats, one of the largest ticket providers in North America, which not only offers BookSeats.com ticket inventory, it also provides all of the event information – location, venue, time, etc.
Launched in late 2019, Demarinis said: “It’s going and, I think for us, it has been overwhelming in terms of the amount of traffic [to the site] and awareness, especially through social [media] that we’ve obtained [so far] … And for us now, it’s just about keeping brand awareness up and driving traffic and then looking into customer acquisition into the winter here.”
Ask whether there is a way travel agents can use BookSeats.com, Demarinis explained that at the moment, it is a B2C platform. “Phase One was always going to be into the B2C market, but we definitely see – with groups in particular – an opportunity to potentially work with agents down the line.”
He continued: “We are not currently set up to offer that right now, but I also think it’s an awesome tool, and I definitely recommend agents reaching out [to us] for help and support because I know, obviously with the background [I have], this kind of travel is asked for by some agents, and a lot of the agents aren’t able to provide the tickets or event information – now they have to do that manually themselves.”
And he added: “I definitely recommend that they reach out to us, and we’ll offer any insights or answer any questions or see if there are any ways that we can help [them], but I also think it [BookSeats.com] could be of use as a tool to kind of [help them out].”
As for competition, Demarinis told CTP: “So direct competition, there really isn’t anyone in this space that’s doing exactly what we’re doing – meaning custom, live pricing, the ability to build out a specific package to [satisfy] your wants and needs. Right now, we see ourselves as the only ones that are doing what we’re doing in the space.”
But he also pointed out that: “There are a number of different sports and entertainment travel companies that offer what we’re doing, but more on a manual quote based situation where you are bound to Flight X, Hotel Y and Ticket Z, and it’s at one strict price point. There are some that are more a white-glove service that ask you to submit your request, and they’ll come back to you within 48 hours with some sort of package that they were able to build out. And then indirectly, I think, obviously competition is the one plus one plus one. So going to an Expedia for your hotel; Google Flights for your air; and Stub Hub for your event tickets.”
Clearly, though, there are lots of opportunities for BookSeats.com to grow, with Demarinis observing: “Right now, we’re going to focus on the B2C market, but potentially the opportunity to be involved in B2B and share the platform with the agents across the country [is there].”
He noted that: “Growth into the United States is definitely something that we’re going to look to as we know that, even more so than Canadians, that Americans travel for entertainment-specific reasons down in the United States. And then looking at different avenues of event-based travel, whether it’s custom events or groups looking to build out their own [packages].”
Stay tuned there will definitely be more to come from BookSeats.com.