11 Oct 2018

Der Touristik taps CodeGen’s TravelBox to power new online brand for UK

The UK arm of German travel giant DER Touristik is launching Meraki Travel, an online travel company for the UK, focused on tailor-made long-haul itineraries.

The brand is being treated as a standalone proposition, positioned independently from Der Touristik UK’s other UK businesses, notably Kuoni.

The release claims Meraki is “a new concept for tailor-made travel and differs from anything else currently available”

Meraki is run by Matt Hodgson, who joined Der Touristik UK earlier this year. He told tnooz that an online itinerary builder sits at the heart of Meraki. The front-end has been developed internally, while the inventory and back-end is powered by CodeGen’s TravelBox.

Hodgson said that TravelBox allows Meraki to “curate” the content. “We’re not using a massive API feed with thousands of hotel options – we want to make sure that the inventory we have is priced accurately in real-time for users, and that that content reflects the market we’re targeting.”

Charlotte Smith, marketing director, explained that the target market was child-free Millennials and older couples whose children have grown up.

The idea is that visitors to the site create a base itinerary, which can be personalised using filters or a map-based interface. Experiences can also be added, hotels and flights swapped, with prices changing in real-time.

The experiences, like the hotels, will be curated, based on insight from the various destination management companies Der Touristik works with. Smith said the experiences would be broken out into categories such as “Foodie”, “Active”, “Authentic” and “Once-in-a-Lifetime”.

“We’re still beta-testing the site and we’re excited by how it is developing,” Hodgson said. The consumer launch is planned for 15th November.

Meraki has its own marketing team, with Smith saying that “the budget is in place for paid Google ads and all the other usual channels new businesses need to be in to get customers.”

There is also a strong written and visual content element to its marketing plans, with Meraki having four in-house writers and photographers on its team.

“We’re going to have a lot of fresh content when we launch and by having in-house writers we can make sure that the tone of voice and the pictures we use aligns with our target market.

But over time we’re looking at how we can be innovative around how we build up a community and use content from our customers within the site.”

Hodgson added that Meraki would be directly contracting hotels and experiences itself and is not simply reselling other Der Touristik-contracted inventory. “There might be a bit of crossover but we are deliberately trying to be different from Kuoni and the rest of the UK market in what we sell and how we sell it,” he said.

Meraki plans to launch selling Indian trips and hopes to have added South Africa, Kenya & Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Canada and China within the next few months.

While Meraki is currently UK-only, the possibility of international expansion is there. Hodgson said:

“Clearly, we’re part of a European travel group and our in-house and third-party technology is scalable. There are conversations taking place about if this can be deployed across other markets but for now we’re UK only and we need to walk before we can run.”



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