At least once in life, we all have to face the perks of missing a flight or having to cancel a holiday last minute. It’s not only mentally but also financially frustrating to deal with the non-refundable costs of your trip. But if I tell you there is hope!
Websites like SpareFare have helped hundreds of customers to recover their money on unused travel bookings, connecting other travellers that are looking for a discount on travel options. It’s a winning game and we want to know more about this successful business.
MT: To start with, I’d like to know a little bit about your professional background.
Galena Straveva: I am a UK qualified solicitor. I worked in the commercial real estate team of a US law firm based in the City for five years before quitting to work on SpareFare full-time.
MT: How and when did you come up with the idea of business?
GT: It was actually my co-founder’s idea! It all started when Georgi realised he would not be able to use a flight ticket due to unpredictable work commitments. Full of misplaced hope, he ended up changing the outbound date two times, until he eventually gave up.
None of our friends wanted the ticket and there wasn’t a scam-free marketplace he could sell it on. Georgi saw the need for a trustworthy service which salvages costly travel tickets and gives people the chance to fly when all other options dry up.
MT: What is the concept of your business?
GS: Millions of people lose money on their unused travel bookings every year because they are not aware of any safe and hassle-free ways to resell their reservations.
But now there is SpareFare.net, an online platform connecting people who have bought flights, holiday packages or hotel rooms but can no longer use them, with people seeking discounted travel options.
By transferring their booked non-refundable reservations to SpareFare buyers, sellers are able to partially or fully recover the money they paid for the trips, while buyers get a true discount of up to 50-60% by not paying the current price of the bookings.
We offer fraud protection to both buyers and sellers and dramatically reduce the risk of transferring flights, hotel rooms and holidays to strangers by acting as an intermediary.
MT: What is the biggest challenge of a business like yours?
GS: Our biggest challenge is educating the market, especially for flights. Many people are still unaware that they can resell their hotel rooms, holidays and flights if they are not able to use them.
Or that they can buy someone else’s booking at a significant discount. Many airlines also allow passengers to change the dates and the departure and arrival destinations for flights. Travellers have to pay a fee to make the change, but if the flight is expensive enough it is worth doing.
MT: What is the type of clientele you usually reach with this kind of service?
Sellers are absolutely anyone who has a non-refundable flight, hotel room or packages holiday that they cannot use.
Our buyers are flexible travellers looking for bargain holidays. If someone has very specific dates and destinations in mind, we are probably not going to have the exact flights or hotels they need.
But if travellers are more flexible with the timing of their holiday or the destination they want to see, we have absolutely mind-blowing deals. I have seen flights to New York sell for £200!
If buyers do not find immediately what they want, they can sign up for email alerts and next time we have a travel reservation that fits their criteria, we will email them, so they can grab the bargain first!
MT: What is unique about your service?
GS: We act as intermediaries and ensure that the exchanges on the platform are secure.
MT: How is e-commerce important to the success of your business?
GS: It is 100% vital because all transactions are done online!
MT: Do you think about expanding your business internationally? Please, explain.
GT: Absolutely! The site is already working in six languages. The whole team is very ambitious, and we are all working very hard to grow the business. We want to create a new type of shared economy in travel.
In 10 years, we want everyone to be aware that they can resell their travel reservations to other people, and for SpareFare to be the go-to site for everyone looking for a cheap holiday, flight or a hotel room. We want to enable millions of people every year to travel cheaply and see more of our amazing world.
We want to help everyone who is not able to travel recoup at least some of the money they spent on their holidays, making travel more affordable for everyone.
MT: What is your advice for someone who wants to start a business?
GS: Just do it! You will learn on the job. No matter how many books you read or how many courses you to, there will always be things you don’t know. And the best way to find them out is just by doing the business.
MT: What are the new plans for SpareFare?
GS: To tell as many people as we can about what we do! Every time I speak with someone they tell me “I wish I knew about you sooner. SpareFare could have saved me a lot of money”. So clearly a secure travel secondary exchange is very much needed. We hope to be able to help millions of people with their unwanted reservations.
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