Q&A with Dan Lucas of HERO, a new travel agency platformJuly 7th, 2015 | | industry
1. What is Hero?
Hero is a new travel agency booking platform, built for the backpacker & adventure travel industry. After 12 months of development, we are proud to have launched Hero to the industry, offering travel Agencies and Operators a range of exciting features to help sell more and make more money from each sale.
2. Who’s the team behind Hero?
Our core team is James Clay, Alex Frame and myself. We’re friends who have worked in the backpacker travel industry for years. James, ex-technology director at Global Gossip is our CEO and systems architect. Alex, ex-UltimateOz, is our lead software engineer. I’m also ex-UltimateOz, and now manage relationships with our Agency and Supplier partners. We have a team helping us load content onto the platform and another group ready to support it, and we’re all based in Woolloomooloo, Sydney.
3. What’s the Hero concept and how does Hero differ from other systems available?
With Hero we’ve taken a technology-focused approach to improving the sales and accounting process between travel Agents and Suppliers. We’re passionate about technology and design, so have packed Hero with innovative features and an attractive interface to help Agents and Operators sell more.
A key difference is that we’re a software-as-a-service (SAAS) provider, not a wholesaler, and as a result we provide Suppliers with complete control over the allocation of their Agency rates and commissions. Suppliers can create Agency Groups and allocate net rates and commission percentages as they see fit. Rates and commission changes can be made quickly and easily, which are instantly available to Agencies using Hero.
Our payment procedure is streamlined, with automated weekly direct debit and direct credit transactions that don’t require Suppliers to issue invoices or claim vouchers for dated bookings. With other booking systems, Suppliers must receive vouchers upon check-in, then claim payments online for dated vouchers. With Hero, everything happens automatically, and Suppliers receive direct payments in the week following the trip start / check-in date.
We’ve also addressed the issue of breakage and no-shows. With Hero, Suppliers get paid automatically for no-shows, and a share of any unclaimed open-dated vouchers will be paid to the Agency and Supplier. Suppliers are instantly notified when their product is sold both dated and open-dated, allowing better management and tracking of open dated sales.
Automation is a key focus for us, and we are already working on API integration with a number of reservation systems. Our technology is brand new, so this something we can implement relatively quickly and easy. We hope that in the not so distant future, all products sold with Hero will be via real-time API links with Suppliers.
Accountability and transparency is also incredibly important, so Hero’s reporting capabilities will enable Suppliers and Agents access to a wealth of stats and reports to help manage their sales and inventory. Suppliers can even view analytics on how often their product is viewed, compared and added to a quote, which can be compared to actual sales stats.
Our fees are straightforward, we only charge a nominal booking fee for each sale. All Suppliers are charged the same amount, and fees are clearly recorded in Supplier remittance reports.
We’re also focused on customer service, and will work closely with our Supplier and Agency partners, to ensure regular system updates and improvements to better meet the demands of the industry.
4. Is Hero owned or affiliated with any other businesses that we know about?
No, Hero is privately owned and we’re industry-neutral. We’re a software provider to the backpacker / youth travel industry and do not own travel Agencies or operate tours or accommodation, neither do we sell direct to the public. We believe our neutrality is a key benefit for everybody using Hero.
5. What success have you had getting suppliers and agencies on board?
We’ve had amazing support from the industry and are proud to be working with over 100 Suppliers and 16 Agencies across Australia, the UK and USA. Within the next 12 months, we expect to be working with over 50 Agencies and a lot more Suppliers.
6. What are you long-term plans for Hero?
We have big plans for Hero, and our long-term goal is to enter new regions internationally allowing overseas Agencies to directly sell Australian-based product, and vice-versa. Until then, we’re focused on adding features and functionality to the platform and building relationships with Agencies and Operators throughout Oceania.
7. What is the process for Operators who wish to sell their products on Hero?
Becoming a Hero Supplier is easy. Contact us to get started and we will load your products and rates for you, and provide you with content for your approval. Once you’re happy, your products will go live for Agents to sell.
8. What about Agencies who wish to sell with Hero?
Agents can contact us to arrange a no-obligation, anonymous trial of Hero, and test it alongside their existing sales systems. We will provide you with personalised training and support, and help load any exclusive commissions that you may have negotiated with your key Suppliers.
9. Where can The Byte readers go for more information?
We would love to hear from anyone interested in using the Hero platform, and we welcome feedback on how Hero can be developed to suit the needs of the industry.
Our contact details are listed on our website, so please visit www.hero.travel for more information.
Dan was questioned by Chris Harrison