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Operating since 2010, QTravel is an OTA that sells vacation packages from 50 Polish tour operators. It has been averaging year-on-year revenue growth of about 10%, and has about a third of the traffic as leading rival Travelplanet.
To stand out from other online travel agencies (OTAs) in Poland, QTravel created its own full-text—meaning very basic natural language, or semantic—search engine, which mostly indexes vacation packages.
The start-up intends to add holiday apartments to the products that can be searched.
Solid revenue growth
This year, QTravel is expecting to earn revenue of 184,000 euro, about 10% more than last year.
It earns revenue in two ways: As a travel agent, it receives a reservation fee from tour operators (of between 8% to 17%, depending on the product and agreement). It also provides an application programming interface (API), where the price is individually negotiated depending on the way API is to be used.
A popular API
This year the Gdańsk company began to promote its API, which is intended as a search tool that can be added to the websites run by travel agents and travel bloggers.
The API can be added quickly to any website, says QTravel. For instance, Poland-based start-up Placeknow only needed a couple of days to add Qtravel’s data to its website via the API.
QTravel’s API can also be used by tour operators to search through their own data more nimbly, according to the company.
QTravel’s is now working on German, Czech and Russian APIs. At the moment it is looking for partners in these markets who could help it in gathering relevant data on offers from local tour operators in all four markets.
The API currently has 13,000 offers from Polish operators for travel to 256 destinations.
Qtravel was founded by three people: Tomasz Kolaszynski (the former CTO of Poland’s largest travel agent, Wakacje), his wife Agnieszka (a Red Hat Linux engineer), and Marzena Kukalowicz. A private investor funded the company about nine months after it launched.
The company now has nine employees.
When it launched in May 2010, it was slow to grow, with only 8,000 users in July 2010. But growth has been steady since then. By July 2011, it had 140,000 users.
In 2012, traffic dropped somewhat. The Kolaszynskis say that a drop was common to all OTAs in Poland last summer because of a crisis in the Polish travel business (bankruptcy of a few leading Polish tour operators; the delayed impact of the Eurozone crisis; and strikes in Greece, which is one of the major holiday destinations for Poles).
So in July 2012 the site had 100,000 users—a respectable figure when compared with Travelplanet.pl, the biggest Polish OTA, whose statistics for the same month were 300,000 users.
QTravel’s promotional efforts have targeted users who are families traveling with children, who are the biggest users of its main inventory.