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Q&A with Dan Lucas of HERO, a new travel agency platform

July 7th, 2015 | | industry

Dan-Lucas,-Head-of-Partnerships,-HeroThe Byte got talking with Hero and its Head of Partnership Dan Lucas (pictured).

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





14 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    About time the industry gained a neutral booking platform! Excited!

  2. Mike Barrow says:

    Good to see some new initiatives within the industry.

  3. Paul says:

    Connect to Rezdy’s API an you will be my HERO!!!!!!

    • Dan Lucas says:

      Hi Paul. We’re currently working on 5 major APIs, with Rezdy integration in the pipeline. We’ll update you when we’re close to completion.

  4. Anon says:

    Great work guys!

    It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Hero already.

    Great design, technology & down to earth team, looking forward to watching you grow!

  5. Anon says:

    Interested to seeing if Hero can cause a shift in a currently monopolised market. It should be welcomed by most operators, but which agencies will make the change to an untested platform. Only time will tell I suppose.

  6. Greg A says:

    Anon, no one is brave enough to break away from the monopoly! In the early days there was much talk about how a future monopoly would change the industry for the worse and people resisted using it. It is now common place, as most if not all conceded. We are in a pickle because of it, although ironically those who have survived have survived partly because of it! At least we get paid, we say!
    In the cyclical world that is tourism, I think a new platform will be good. It will a least make the monopoly sit up and think. If it does get traction, watch this space…… The monopoly will buy them out…. and then it all goes around again. The homogenous products and suppliers are ruining tourism choices.
    It is not good.
    Good luck HERO!

  7. AT says:

    Greg, any travel agency breaking away from the monopoly is making a sensible choice rather than a “brave” one. We’ll be switching to HERO soon and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. It’s hard enough to make a buck these days, especially with Big Bro monitoring every sale we make, directly competing with us with shops across the street, and taking a huge slice of ours (and your!) commission. The monopoly is crippling our industry and new opportunities like HERO should be welcomed with open arms! Go HERO!

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely! Obviously everyone agrees the current situation is ridiculous and it’s about time for a solution that’s transparent and actually serves the purpose a booking platform should rather than competing with its users.

  8. Max says:

    I love the concept of Hero! finally a fair and user friendly service. Cant wait to be using this system.

  9. Greg A says:

    couldn’t agree more AT. It is still a brave decision though. People talk about doing it and have done for years but when it comes to the crunch many stick with the Monopoly because its easier than rocking the boat. I look forward to the changes and hope more people have a chance to book my product. I am sick of hearing customers say that they tried to book in this shop and that shop and were told that they had never heard of my company! This despite the fact we offer 25% commission and have won many awards and are booked by the monopoly when the others aren’t running!

  10. Gayle says:

    ‘We’re industry-neutral’ … that is key here, I think! I believe this neutrality is important because they stand to gain only from providing a great platform and a great service. I know these guys well and when I heard about what they were doing, I was genuinely excited by the concept of their product. They know the travel industry like the back of their hands and each one is exceptionally talented in their individual fields. The system they have created has been created for the people, by the people, so to speak … the service I know they will provide will be personal and tailored to the needs of each of their clients. With my role in the travel industry, there is an inevitable end to the relationship between company and customer due to the nature of our products but with Hero, the relationship has so much potential to grow, develop and strengthen the longer it continues. I can’t wait to see how this company moves forward and innovates and the positive impact it will have on the industry.

  11. Small tour operators software says:

    Great work … helpful post for people who want to talk with Dan Lucas of HERO about new travel agency platform. Thanks for sharing this great info and post with us!

  12. Geoffrey Barnes says:

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for putting together this Q&A with Dan Lucas of HERO. It is a great read. I particularly find your response to whether Hero is owned or affiliated with any other businesses that we know about interesting.

    Keep up these insightful posts.

    Cheers!