UK online auction house Quixell is to launch a range of “bucket shop” travel services aiming to offer cut-price holidays to consumers.
The company, which to date has specialised in matching sellers and buyers of discounted computer equipment, electronic goods and jewellery online, launched the first of its travel services on Monday, offering holiday homes for rent across Europe.
The travel service is currently limited to finding last minute customers for private owners of holiday homes. But travel product director Marc Charron says he is confident that the company can also strike deals to handle sales for major travel brands.
“We need to get a good geographical spread across our travel offers to attract buyers to the site,” he says. Quixell also intends to roll out further services offering hotels, package holidays, city breaks, flights, and car hire to the highest bidder.
According to Quixell, auctioning travel services is a perfect way for travel companies to dispose of excess stock without “cannabilising” demand for services at the standard rate.
“One of the problems with travel operators offering a lot of last minute discounts is that you don’t want to train your customers to wait and wait for the best deals and encourage a ‘fire sale’ mentality,” says Charron. “But the travel industry is dealing with ‘perishable’ goods. The thing about auctions is they allow you to get rid of goods to customers who understand it is a one-off deal. You are not training people to wait, or risking associating your brand with regular discounting.”
Quixell, launched last year by managing director Tim Jackson, declined to reveal traffic levels on its site. But it claims sales through the site, run by a team of 22, are now bringing in about 3m a year.