Our affiliate, Artem, who is working in the Albanian travel market, shared his experience of founding a transfer company in Albania. With Travelpayouts tools, he is providing his clients with options for purchasing airline tickets and booking hotels at the best prices. However, tickets and hotels do not cover all the potential needs of travelers.
The main airport in Albania is located quite far from popular resorts. Artem birthed the idea of offering transfer services for tourists to and from the airport. The realization of this dream was not easy. After trying out several options, our affiliate decided to start his own transfer business to offer the best services.
Albanian market features
Albania is a small country in the Balkans. There is only one main airport, which is the gate to the country for the foreign tourists. All visitors must endure a long ride to the resorts, as the airport is in the middle of the country and resorts are centered around the beaches.
Beach holidays in Albania last from May until the end the of September, so tourism to Albania is primarily seasonal.
The country has great natural and touristic potential. Our affiliate moved to Albania in 2009, and after four years of living there, he founded his first tourism project — GoToAlbania. In 2015 he founded RivieraBus to provide transfers with a high quality of service at a reasonable price.
Own a company or join an existing affiliate program
If you have travel traffic from a blog, content project, Facebook group, or any other source, you should try to offer complex services.
Just imagine, you join a flight affiliate program and are successfully selling tickets. If a person is buying flight tickets from your site to a tourist destination like Albania, he or she most likely needs accommodation and other services as well. Provide a solutions to all the problems of your target market, and your income can grow without even growing number of visitors.
Albania, even now, does not have very developed travel services, especially listed on the Internet or for online payment. For example, it is hard to find option for getting to the hotel from the airport in comfort, for a reasonable price, and with the ability to book online.
Travelpayouts are great and have well developed offers for flights and hotels, but if you want to find transfers in some regions, it can be difficult to find a reasonable option. From the start of 2018, KiwiTaxi is available, but it is not a good option for single or budget travelers. Prices for KiwiTaxi transfers in Albania are very expensive.
The base concept of RivieraBus is a comfortable bus which you can book online at a reasonable price, even offering free WiFi and drinks on board. Before, Albania had nothing like that, but our affiliate saw a demand for this service and founded a company to meet the need.
RivieraBus was the first tourist bus route in Albania with a stable schedule and online purchasing options.
It is a unique service which helps travelers to reach the main destinations of the country in less time and at a more affordable price.
Maintaining your own travel company
Join an affiliate program is much easier than starting your own company. You have to generate sales (which is not easy), but the rest of the work is carried out by somebody else. However, if there is no one for whom you can generate sales or to whom you can delegate work, there is no other option but to create a business by yourself. In this case, you will perform all aspects of the job yourself — creating the strategy, taking risks, generating sales, managing processes, solving problems, and so on.
RivieraBus only operates during the high demand season — from June 1st until the middle of September. During this time, it is easier to predict the numbers of passengers and capacity of the bus.
For the last two years, the owner worked with different transport companies, trying to understand the market and find fair prices for a level of service that would satisfy clients. At that time, he held no thoughts of profit or making long-term financial plans, he was simply practicing and learning to understand the market.
The season of 2018 is different. After two years, he found a strategy partner — a new transport company that was also interested in developing this project. The service was revised and prices adjusted.
According to the plan, RivieraBus
- Operates the route from the 1st of June until the 24th of September, and
- Provides buses three times each week (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
So it makes fifty trips and carries approximately 1000 passengers per year.
The fixed price to any destination is 35 euros. About 70% of the gross revenue forecast (35,000 euros) will be used to cover costs for the transfer company. RivieraBus will keep around 10,500 euros. Of course, part of this income is used by marketing and ADV expenses, as well as the website, booking system, maintenance, taxes, etc.
Based on previous experience, the company is mostly focused on Western European and Scandinavian tourists. They want to travel in comfort but are always searching for economical options.
At the same time, requests from clients all over the world come in, too — Canada, Singapore, USA, China, etc. Buses may be interesting for single travelers, couples, or small groups up to three people.
For big groups, renting out a Rivierabus privately is a solution that combines high quality and affordable price. A five-hour ride along the scenic Albanian coastline will cost just 35 euros, while a private taxi can run 200 euros for the same route.
How to make a sale in this niche
We used a standard business toolkit to build this business. First, we did a basic search of the most popular keywords which people used when searching for transfers from Tirana to Saranda or another beach resort on the Albanian Riviera.
After that came plenty of work with SEO and website content. We prepared a context campaign with Google Ads. Besides this, we also attracted our clients through a fan page on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. People shared information themselves, as well. For example, you can find the RivieraBus topic on the TripAdvisor forum.
The idea to add transfers to flights and hotels is only the beginning. Up-selling is a great practice. For example, if you take a flight into Ovda, Israel, then a shuttle to the seaside, the local shuttle company can do a great job up-selling by showing their tour and excursion packages on TV screens in the shuttle, which passengers can easily book with the driver or online.
Sharing detailed information, containing photos, videos, prices, and a timetable of each tour, can work well. Other ideas could include sales of local SIM-cards, travel insurance, and other travel services.
This season will be the third in the life of this company. If the concept continues to be successful, Artem will also continue to improve the quality of service, reduce their ticket prices, and add new services.
Create your own business is an exciting idea, but you should first consider the risks that go along with it. Also consider the time required to build the business successfully and profit, which may never come if the idea is not successful. These considerations should not stop you if you wish to open your own company, but try to plan for everything, spend quality time in market research, and maintain a margin of financial safety in case of disaster.
We at Travelpayouts do our best to let you own businesses in travel without risks. At the beginning of 2018, we added nine more travel services to our affiliate network. Now you can earn on car rentals, tour activities, and other services.