After 10 years, lowcostbeds is breaking into the U.S. marketplace offering travel agents a global bed bank with more than 200,000 hotels worldwide.
The UK-based company, part of lowcosttravelgroup, is one of the largest “bed banks” in the world and also offers transfers, giving travel agents everything they need to package a trip for a client and undercut pre-made packages, allowing them to earn more.
“What the fundamental principle of the business was when I started it was to put the agent in control and stop trying to tell them what to buy; just have a huge inventory they can pick from on a flexible basis. Really become a global bed bank,” says Paul Evans, the CEO of lowcosttravelgroup.
Before founding the company in 2004, Evans spent about 20 years working in mainstream travel. “I used to run a consortium of travel agents in the UK, so I understand the travel agent community and I understand the hotel community. Travel agents for us could be a shop, a home worker or big OTA.”
Since the company started selling in the U.S. six months ago, it now works with 16,000 travel agents and continues to grow.
He says one of the factors that makes lowcostbeds stand out from its competitors is that they started as leisure (beach-oriented) and have branched out into cities. They also don’t ask for payments up front like other wholesalers.
“We are very much into allowing the travel agent and OTA to decide how they take the stock,” Evans says. “We’re not pushing hotels. Agents pull hotels because it’s just got such a wide inventory base.”
The inventory features 200,000 hotels worldwide, 24,000 of which are in the U.S. Evans says that demand is strongest in Europe, since that is where the company is based, but also in the Caribbean, the U.S. and South America, particularly Brazil.
“Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of Americans don’t have a passport, so domestic holidays in America are hugely important,” he says.
lowcostbeds is also seeing a strong trend in Americans going to Europe to visit destination cities and beaches, in countries like Portugal and Greece. “We’re seeing Americans going to Europe who want to go to a few destinations; they want flexibility. They’re getting more confident about traveling on their own, and not necessarily on tour groups.”
And with 493 hotels alone in Rome, for example, travel agents have a slew of options to choose from for their clients, ranging from airport hotels to a five-star hotel in the city center. This is the goal for lowcostbeds—give agents the inventory to allow them to “package it with a flight and bring something with real value and make money.”
Travel agents can take advantage of net rates or earn 15 percent commission on accommodation bookings, as well as 20 percent commission on transfers. For more information and to register, visit lowcostbeds.com.