"..the company has brought on board a lot of people with interesting backgrounds, including four data scientists and engineers, a user experience/user interaction expert, and a marketing and sales professional to work with the CMO.."
If you sit next to Alexander Mans on a plane, expect him to ask how much you paid for your ticket. The FLYR co-founder and CTO knows that what passengers spend differs widely depending on when they booked.
“The more time we spend trying to get a great deal, the more airfares go up,” he says. “But if I book today, I might miss out on a better deal tomorrow.”
Hunting for those deals is time-consuming — travelers use an average of 22 websites and spend six and a half hours over a period of nearly a month looking for the best prices for their trip, Mans says. He developed FLYR to cut down search times to two minutes and protect travelers from the volatility of airfares. Another perk? The app helps users dodge the headache of dealing with airlines to change tickets since travelers can protect their fare without committing.
How Flyr works
“The real goal here is to simplify the experience of purchasing and reserving airline tickets” Mans says.
He first experienced how difficult booking and changing flights can be when planning a trip to the United States from his hometown of Amsterdam when he was 19 — after selling the network security company he started at 15 years old. When a family issue delayed his departure by a couple of days, he called his airline and ended up spending an hour on the phone and paying more than the price of the ticket in change fees.
“Having to change my plans was so incredibly stressful that the pleasure of going to New York was practically gone,” Mans says.
FLYR aims to relieve the stress by letting users reserve flights instead of booking them and by providing price insurance on today's fares. Simply search for flights — major airlines on U.S. domestic routes, for now — on FLYR, then choose one or more to reserve. Travelers pay a service fee to protect the price for 7 days; longer time periods will be available after the initial launch. Then, when they’re ready to book, users type in their passenger information and purchase the flight.
Flyr’s service fees are dynamic and based on predicted airfare risk for the selected flights. A price insurance for a week will cost an average of about $22 per passenger.
Giving travelers freedom
“The way we buy air tickets hasn't changed much in decades” Mans says. “Airlines are the only ones that make up the price … But through data analytics you can untangle the mosaic that airlines have created in terms of price and change policies… that creates much more freedom and flexibility in a space where there is none.”
Mans began working on Flyr in late 2012, spending a year researching airlines’ yield management to create the company’s financial and prediction models. He teamed up with two startup veterans and seasoned travelers: co-founder and CEO Jean Tripier is a longtime tech executive and Harvard MBA, while co-founder and CMO Cyril Guiraud brings experience operating a tour operator company.
Tackling the “huge and complex” problem of airfare booking won’t just benefit jet-setters sick of paying airlines $2 billion a year in change fees, Tripier says — it will be good for the whole travel industry. He compares it to a return policy on clothing: when you know you can return a coat for a full refund, you buy more coats.
“If you make it completely painless and simple to get a great deal on air tickets, then people will fly more,” he says.
How big is the market?
300,000 airline tickets are sold worldwide every hour. In the US alone, this amounts to $160B in airfare sales. 1 in 5 of those bookings are changed or cancelled before departure, incurring change or cancelation fees.
What do you understand about your business that others just don't get?
We believe that choice, freedom and flexibility when you buy tickets enables a better travel experience. This can be achieved through advanced data science, packaged as elegant applications for all travelers.
How will you make money?
Similar to insurance, FLYR charges a small fee for it's service, guaranteeing today's airfares for 7 days or longer, while finding better deals.
In case we find a better deal within the 7 day period and the customer chooses to purchase said deal in favor of the originally protected/guaranteed flight, our gross margin is at 100%. The same is the case when a customer abandons his/her plans.
How do you acquire customers?
While realizing direct sales through our mobile application by utilizing social media and content marketing, we will tap into existing customer funnels from travel industry partners through our API.
Why is your team awesome? Why you?
Our executive team consists of experienced startup founders that have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on airplanes for work and pleasure.
What is your next milestone?
Flyr will be launching it's iOS app and aims to get to 100,000 downloads within the first 3 months after launch.
What's new about what you're making? How is it different?
We believe that a better travel experience can be achieved through advanced data science, packaged as elegant applications for all travelers.
FLYR brings choice, freedom and flexibility back to flight reservations through a mobile application and an API that enables the travel industry to offer it's services as an integral part of their offerings.
How does it work?
We believe technology and methods for gathering and analyzing the relevant data are now achievable and scalable. We have developed algorithms and machine learning techniques to reverse engineer how airline tickets are priced and more importantly how such airfare pricing. Based on the risk profile of a specific combination of flights, we will price a product very similar to insurance.
Are there other applications for your technology?
We have developed our technology to predict the fare and price insurance against price volatility for any yield managed, perishable product or service. Therefore, we could apply our platform to other industries such as car rental, hotels, cruises, rail, etc.
Is 7 days the only guaranteed period you offer?
Because the average cost of guaranteeing airfares for 7 days is $22, we believe these are the perfect product characteristics to start with as they are only 5% of the average US domestic airfare.
At a later stage, we will offer guaranteed airfares for up to 3 months, depending on the time left until departure.
Flyr is conducting a Regulation D offering via Wefunder Advisors LLC. CRD Number: #167803.
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