Is this retail travel’s Airbnb?

In an exclusive story in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press, executive editor, Bob Mowat reports that a San Francisco-based start-up called FlyEx has rolled out a personalized, on-demand, peer-to-peer travel booking and messaging platform (called Travel Chat) at SXSW (South By Southwest) in Austin, Texas.

It allows any traveller with a smartphone (once they download the free App) to connect to a global network of FlyEx Aviators who will help those travellers book flights and hotels and have on-demand access to comprehensive, 24/7 travel concierge services and support.

As FlyEx’s vice-president marketing, Adam Gershon Meron explained to Canadian Travel Press in an exclusive interview:

“We’re kind of going back to the future when you had a trusted travel agent that you went to and you said ‘I want to book a trip to X destination’ and they gave you some recommendations; they found you a flight; they booked your hotel; they maybe made some recommendations for a place to eat – really that personal connection with travel agents that existed 20 or 30 years ago – before the Internet.”

Now Gershon Meron does admit that that kind of consumer-agent relationship still does exist to a certain extent. And that’s a good thing, considering that:

“If you look at some of the statistics around how Millennials value their time, they’re the generation most likely to use a travel agent offline. I think, from our perspective, the fact that a typical [online] travel booking requires a visit to 38 different websites, tells us something’s not working quite right – the only company that benefits from clicking around that much is Google.”

He continues:

“What we’re providing is a virtual travel agent where [the consumer] can go to that agent and they can help [the consumer] book travel. [Consumers] can, of course, do it on [their] own with the App, which works as a traditional Search platform. So [they] can Search [for travel], but [they] can also reach out to what we call FlyEx’s Aviators.”

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press by clicking here.