Travel startup specializes in complex trips

If you’re tired of the cold and want to get away to someplace — maybe several places, all on the same trip — a new website offers the kind of one-stop shopping that many travel sites aren’t designed to handle.

TripzonTravel.com helps you customize a trip with as many destinations as you like, allowing you to both plan and book multiple flights, hotels, car rentals and activities all on the same site.

“We’re like an electronic travel professional for people who prefer to do it on their own,” said Tripzon founder Christopher Bensley.

After 20 years of working in the travel industry, Bensley never imagined planning a vacation to Costa Rica for his own family would take him weeks of research.

He had to make transactions on six different websites, and when travel dates had to shift by two days, he found the hotels rooms he’d wanted weren’t available, so his search started over.

“I thought, there’s got to be a better way,” said the 53-year-old Boston native.

So he raised $800,000 from family, friends and angel investors — many of them fellow Dartmouth College alumni. And, with a handful of programmers led by one engineer, he developed three different websites: TripzonTravel for travelers, TripzonPro for travel agents and TahitiJourneys for boutique travel to the South Pacific.

What they all have in common is a web application that puts all the information in one place, allowing for customization and multiple transactions.

What makes them different from the big travel search engines is that they use multiple suppliers and have a trip-building tool that allows you to specify your destinations and then add flights, hotels, car rentals, activities and transfers, Bensley said, or you can modify one of Tripzon’s pre-designed trips to suit your preferences.

You also can pay for different parts of a trip at different times. To guarantee availability, for example, you can pay for your hotel rooms far in advance, and then add activities and transfers later.

Last fall, Tripzon was one of the top 26 startups in the MassChallenge accelerator and competition, winning free mentoring and office space in Boston’s Innovation District.

To date, the company has booked more than 50 trips and made more than $100,000 in revenue and plans to grow its base of users by partnering with tour operators, cruise lines and event planners, Bensley said.

Article source: http://bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2014/03/travel_startup_specializes_in_complex_trips