Affiliate Programs

Australia’s Travlr to Bring Travel-as-a-Service to U.S. Media Brands

Australia's Travlr to Bring Travel-as-a-Service to U.S. Media Brands
Written by publishing team

take the change

Media brands that publish travel content strive to improve monetization for their work and their audiences. The story of one of the vendors they serve helps highlight the questions that brands like BBC and MTV in general face.

Sean O’Neill

(Editor’s note: Travel Tech Briefing is taking a year-end vacation and will be back on Thursday, January 6. Thank you for being loyal readers. I wish you all the best in 2022.)

A small startup in Australia called Travlr asks a question. Can a modern approach to white-label and affiliate sales enhance how publishers — such as news sites, TV brands, and brochure companies — sell travel?

Travlr has signed on a few high-profile clients for its solution, with the goal of attracting first to markets in Australia and New Zealand.

  • Things, which claims to be New Zealand’s most popular news site, used Travlr to build the Stuff Travel Bookings experience.
  • BBC Global NewsThe company’s international division (formerly Ad-Based, UK) used Travlr to create the Discover Beyond travel website.
  • MTV Australia for Viacom He leveraged the startup to help build the MTV Travel e-commerce experience.
  • In October, the startup announced a pre-Series B capital increase of about $4.8 million (A$6.7 million).
  • It will be released on the US market next year.

The background is that many publishers and media companies have a problem. They inspire their audience to book their flights, but they rarely get commissions for purchased flights.

  • A publisher of a news site or how-to guide, for example, might inspire a traveler to book a bike trip thanks to the engaging content it creates.
  • But the consumer will go to Google to search the flight details. They’ll buy it elsewhere, either as portions or as a bundle.
  • This is called Attribution problem Difficult to solve, although advertising technology companies such as Sojern Try to connect the dots.
  • So far, reforms to help publishers and other organizations cut out some middlemen and collect more commissions have been incomplete.
  • White Label Travel Agencies It has been around for decades. Many groups, such as Apple Travel Management, have long had units that collected vacation packages and then sold and serviced them on behalf of airlines and other companies. Apple Leisure Group operates Southwest Vacations, for example.
  • Affiliate sales It has been around for decades. Usually companies such as Expedia Affiliate, Travelpayouts, or GetYourGuide place what are essentially ad serving units on the publisher’s site. The travel offers on the tool or website are linked to other distributors to complete the transaction. The blog or other publisher later sends you a check for a small commission – if the link leads to a booking.
  • White label and affiliate models can sometimes present a disjointed, static, or unwanted experience to consumers. Some brands do not trust reports about attribution from suppliers and suppliers.

Travlr is a white label online travel agency. But unlike previous versions, it easily allows the publisher to customize some offers to increase purchase rates or to target niche audiences.

  • Publishers can create custom travel packages using the Travlr platform. Traveler can then tag packages.
  • If a journalist writes an article about, say, a cycling trip around Lake Dunstan in New Zealand, the publisher can create a track bookable via the Travlr platform for sale under the publisher’s brand name. Example: here at Stuff Travel.
  • Under Custom Tours, there is a booking engine for purchasing flights the usual way online.
  • Let’s use the MTV Travel partnership as another example. When a consumer books a flight, Travlr is the registered merchant, even though the consumer only sees the MTV Travel brand name.
  • If a problem arises, the consumer can contact a call center operated by Travlr, where agents answer the phone under the name MTV Travel.
  • “They take 100 percent of the profits from any bookings made across our ecosystem,” said Simon te Hennepe, Co-founder and CEO of Travlr. The startup charges a licensing fee to MTV for technology and resources.
  • Customer data stays with the brand. If a user purchases a trip through Stuff Travel, for example, they agree to provide their email address, for example, to Stuff. The publisher can then use this data for retargeting and more personalized offers.
  • “If our contract gets canceled and we walk away, they still have the email address,” Hennep said. This is a big difference from traditional models.
  • Traveler sources content through Hero TravelHe is a seller who owns a stake in it. The seller gives the startup connection to the so-called channel managers who collect the demand, such as those in Australia SiteMinder, effectively through a single API [application programming interface, or data exchange method] feed.

Travlr calls all of the above a “travel as a service” model.

  • This name plays a role in the popularity of the SaaS business that sells access to cloud-based tools and enterprise applications via a subscription model.
  • Travlr launched its first iteration in January 2019.
  • It appears that Bjorn Harvold was the first to write about “travel as a service” in an article in 2019. Harvold is a co-founder of, which offers some similar functionality.
  • This year’s Moscow-based online travel agency OneTwoTrip It has seen growth in its “Travel as a Service” product called Forma. The platform allows banks, telecoms companies, and other businesses to sell travel to their customers, allowing those customers to earn cash in partner brand loyalty programs and pay in installments.
  • LEK . Consulting Anticipate that the travel-as-a-service model will evolve over time “to achieve expanded use of theme subscriptions and ‘clubs’ to book travel”.
  • John Harvey, former chief marketing officer of the giant travel management company Hugh Robinson (has since got it American Express Global Business Travel) sees diversification of “travel as a service” as an opportunity in corporate travel as well.

Traveler said its whitewashed travel agency is working to improve engagement and conversion for publishers and other media brands.

  • Hennepe said about 95 percent of the revenue from its Stuff Travel platform last year went from people who aren’t subscribed to the paid subscription product or who haven’t created logins for free access to Stuff’s editorial content. (A paid membership to Stuff gives readers access to news and premium entertainment content from Stuff.)
  • A combination of search engine optimization and word of mouth brought these new users to Stuff Travel and Stuff as a whole. In other words, travel sales were acquisition and re-engagement channels for the publisher.
  • Some other publishers see an opportunity in increasing sales of their content. In an article, video, or other pieces of content, they might be referring to a great hotel. Even now, they may link to the hotel’s own website or an affiliate program. Now they will link to offers on their travel platform operated by the startup.
  • Partnering with a tour operator can help create customized itineraries.
  • Under Custom Tours, there is a booking engine for purchasing flights the usual way online.
  • Hennepe said the split in Australia today is roughly 40 per cent of transactions coming from customized offers with the rest coming from do-it-yourself cruise bookings via the booking engine, similar to what one might find at most online travel agencies.

Over time, destination management companies may include it in the form.

  • Tourism boards often run inspirational campaigns on publishers’ websites. But they cannot be sure whether the campaigns result in heads in beds in their areas. This is another kind of attribution problem.
  • A tourism promotion site created with the Travlr platform can directly connect the dots between the campaign and the transactions.
  • In one example, one of Australia’s largest newspaper groups, Australian Community Media (ACM), made use of Travlr to promote Fiji on its Explore Travel site. In theory, details regarding the effectiveness of different messages and packages and the types of travelers who book them could be valuable to Fiji’s tourism authorities.
  • Tour boards can come to Travlr and say, “We want to do a campaign in Canada, for example, for Destination X,” Hennepe said. “We can enable Extended Reach because our media partners clearly generate a profit from any spend. Media can give the campaign more exposure to their audiences because at the end of the conversion funnel, they make money.”
  • “The tourism board can, in the meantime, demonstrate to its stakeholders what the return on investment has been for their advertising spend,” Hennep said.
  • For more context, read Travel Creator’s Economy Reset for Next Boom by Skift’s Lebawit Lily Girma.

I’ve focused on Travlr because I feel its business model suggests “help may be on the way” for editorial publishers and other brands.

  • I think her model points to some interesting industry dynamics. You don’t need to feel like investing in a startup or expecting to become a multi-billion dollar tech company to learn from its story.
  • Unlike many travel startups, it addresses a real pain point that companies are willing to pay money to solve, and has a worldwide “directable market”.
  • The startup’s story suggests a broader note, too. With new technologies and business practices, it may be easier for non-endemic brands to get into the travel sale. Changing industry dynamics could reshape the long tail of travel reselling.
  • Maybe one day we’ll see Tik Tok Travel. Since the most downloaded social video app in 2021 has a lot of travel inspiration, he might want to monetize the travel experiences that go viral.
  • luxury travel pirates is a travel agency that debuted this year and focuses on tackling the “attribution problem” on social media platforms.
  • Let’s say you inspire someone to take a trip with your content on Instagram, TikTok or anywhere else, but you don’t get any commissions for booked trips. The startup has an alternative solution, and emphasizes working with social media influencers, as well as competing startups FindTrip And straw.
  • Expect more innovation in trying to monetize your online travel content.

About the author

publishing team