A growing desire for air travel, and a booming industry has driven an increase of connecting airports across the globe, referred to as “megahubs,” according to travel analytics service OAG. These connecting airports facilitate thousands of connections daily according to OAG Megahubs Index 2015. They are changing the way that many today travel, providing new routes with cheaper flights, opening the door to travel for many worldwide.
OAG findings report London’s Heathrow Airport as Europe’s biggest “megahub,” due to the high number of potential scheduled connections per destination. Barcelona, on the other hand, is reported to be the best cost-cutting stop-off for flyers looking for a more economic route.
These “megahubs” are intent on finding new, creative ways to boost in-transit revenues. From in-airport yoga, to IMAX movie theaters, and even golf courses, these initiatives aim to build to higher engagement of customers. But are they missing a trick in the multitude of possibilities, sitting on their very doorstep?
Paris-based startup TripAside has come up with an alternative through creating customized city tours in top European destinations, for memorable experiences with minimal passenger effort.
Emmanuel Rozenblum, founder and CEO of TripAside explains how his online service enables passengers to experience the highlights of top European destinations – from London to Madrid – transforming the layover wait through the “trip within a trip.”
What are the biggest consumer trends in the air travel industry that have laid the way for your business offering?
As consumers continue to search for low cost air travel we have seen a rise in platforms such as Clever Layover. Using sites like this people are making big savings. They are willing to make sacrifices in convenience, such as undergoing longer layover waits, in order to achieve this. As a result, many travelers spend long stretches in airports waiting for their next flight. This may be good for the wallet, but it is frequently endured at the expense of our time and airport experience. Many travelers feel bored during layovers, watching the clock until their connecting departure. This can result in a negative travel experience, with vacation hours lost in favor of pennies saved.
What is TripAside and how does it attempt to solve this problem?
TripAside helps to solve the problem of layover boredom and the wasted time often experienced by those opting for cheap flights with longer connection times. We offer city tours in top European destinations – letting travelers experience the best parts of a city, as opposed to being trapped in the airport. We currently offer tours in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Brussels, Rome, Madrid – with Dubai and Lisbon coming soon. The TripAside service delivers passengers a fun city experience, allowing them a trip within a trip.
Can you describe a typical TripAside experience?
It all starts with a request: we get the name of the traveler, the day of the layover, the flight numbers, along with detail regarding their personal travel preferences. Using this we are then able to organize a customized layover tour. The driver waits for the client at the terminal ready to pick them up as soon as they arrive. Customers are then transported into the city in a private car, where they will experience the first glimpses of their chosen destination. After a 45 minute drive, the client is brought to the tour starting point where they meet the tour guide. They are then taken to major landmarks, historical buildings, hidden streets, and other special locations that give them a feel for the local atmosphere.
In Paris flyers are invited to stop-off for a hot croissant, or glass of vin rouge, they can visit the iconic Eiffel Tower, and wander the banks of the Seine river. In London, travelers can hit the streets by foot, witness the Changing of the Guards outside Buckingham Palace and soak up the prestige of high-end Mayfair. For those looking to escape the city they can instead opt for a taste of the British countryside and see for themselves the grandeur of Windsor Castle. At the end of the trip passengers are taken back to the airport in good time for a quick duty-free browse before continuing their onwards trip – with no fear of missing flights, and no clock-watching.
With our service, we like to say that ‘we do the worrying while the client does the wandering’. We provide the client with all the information they need about visas, flight times, and their TripAside itinerary. We also store the client’s luggage and monitor the traffic to ensure that they don’t miss their flight. We’re proud to say that some of our customers have told us that their layover with us was the best part of their trip!
How do you go about selecting the best parts of a city to include in a very short period?
For each tour we create, we have two priorities: check the iconic landmarks, for instance, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Big Ben in London, and ensure a local experience. This could involve stopping off for tapas in Madrid or exploring London’s Covent Garden. We don’t try to get our customers to do everything, but rather we aim to make the traveler feel like a local for a few hours. Each one of our tours is created jointly by the layover expert from our Paris-based team and a local guide in the city. Together, they spend time testing to see what is doable without stress in 6, 8 and 10 hour periods, in order to create the optimal layover experience.
We have built a number of different itineraries for each city, keeping all of this in mind, and we make sure that the places we propose are easily reachable from the airport. We also update the tour throughout the year to include seasonal attractions, such as Christmas markets and winter ice-skating.
How did your own personal experiences lead to the creation of TripAside?
The idea for TripAside came to me after I experienced a long layover in Warsaw between flights from Paris to Tel Aviv. I really wanted to go out and experience a place I had never before seen, but I couldn’t bear the thought of missing my flight. I decided to head out of the airport and explore the city – but I couldn’t let go of the nagging fear that I would miss my connection. In fact, I barely made it back in time to get through immigration in time to board my next flight.
This gave me the idea, what was needed was a service that took care of this hassle whilst also providing the best inside knowledge for a great short-stay tour. In April 2015 I launched TripAside in Paris and today we are expanding quickly, adding more and more top city tours in great locations.
How does TripAside compare with the current alternatives being developed today?
Most travelers today still opt to stay in the airport. Airports know this, and many have been creative in the features they now provide encouraging people to stay indoors. Some of them even include jungles, swimming pools, museums, and golf courses. We still think it’s better to be a little more adventurous and get out though!
Sight-seeing tours from open bus-tops are prominent in all main cities today- however they do not support this with the travel organization that TripAside does. TripAside not only arranges all transport, visas, and time frames, but the service also provides close-up experiences that allow visitors to feel a unique experience, with the expert knowledge from local guides. Witness the amazing ruins of Rome, or literally watch time pass by on the banks of the Thames at the world famous Big Ben in London. To us, there is no comparison.
What is your plan for the future development of TripAside?
Our current plan is to launch a mobile application allowing people to experience and access our service via multiple platforms. We are also building a DIY layover tour, where users can customize their own tours for a lower-cost and still benefit from our great insider knowledge of the city, and top tips.
In the next two years we also aim to expand internationally – to provide city experiences in the biggest international airports with larger passenger traffic every day. We will launch Lisbon and Dubai city tours very soon, and also expect to add many more further afield this year, watch this space!