5 Minutes with Joshua Dunne, CEO of travelplanbooker.com

Designed to simplify travel planning, travelplanbooker.com is an all-in-one, online travel booking platform. Created to be with you every step of the way when planning a holiday, we caught up with its founder, Joshua Dunne, to talk all things tools, tech and suitcase-related

Tell us more about your background, how did you get into the travel industry?
I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia and for as long as I can remember, I always dreamt of travelling the world to immerse myself in as many unique cultural experiences as possible. I knew as soon as I started high school that I wanted to work in travel, so I decided pretty early on to major my Business degree in Tourism Management. It was at university where I got my first real opportunity to travel abroad in the form of studying at the university of Washington, in Seattle.

After my exchange semester, I decided to take a leave of absence where I moved to Europe for two years. I was living and working various jobs along the way in London, then moving to the Austrian Ski town of Mayrhofen, where I worked as a Chalet Host. I also spent a season on the Greek island of Ios (I was the guy at the front of the bar encouraging revellers to come in for a drink or three). 

I eventually moved back to Melbourne, finished my degree and got a job as a travel agent, progressing to Branch Sales Manager at STA Travel where the team and I won an award for the biggest turn-around high street branch in the country in just my first year of management. I realised then I loved the leadership aspect of the role, but before too long the travel itch again returned and, on this occasion, I travelled through South America for nine months. My first stop was learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, before spending another eight months travelling through Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia with friends from Germany and Switzerland whom I met at the language school.

Fast forward to more recent times, my ongoing desire to experience the world saw me move to Colombia for 12 months before eventually settling down in Zurich, Switzerland. This is where I was approached about a pioneering idea to disrupt the travel market by launching the first online travel platform to offer customers the opportunity to plan and book complex trips, including various transportation options, hotels, and paid excursions, all in one transaction. It didn’t take long for me to be inspired by the challenge and now after almost three years in the making, here we are.

What inspired you to launch travelplanbooker.com?
The idea was first pitched to me by our Vice President, Ruedi Hess who back in 2018 was trying to plan a family trip to the World Cup in Russia. To his surprise he couldn’t find any travel website that was free from multiple affiliation links, pop-ups and redirects, or that allowed him to book all his travel needs on the one site and in one transaction.

I knew after listening to Ruedi, that it was an audacious plan, but one that would explode if it was done right. Not long after starting the project COVID-19 arrived, which as it turned out actually had an inverse effect on us from a motivational standpoint. Instead of us quitting the project, we doubled down knowing that when the travel industry would make its return, there would be plenty of opportunities for new innovative platforms such as ours to flourish. 

Can you tell us more about the platform and how it works?
In short, the concept of our platform is in the name, travelplanbooker. We aim to turn planning and booking multi-destination trips into a fun, effortless and relatively quick process.

We do this firstly by offering a variety of planning tools that allow customers to research the most commonly searched attractions, destinations and travel related questions, which we display upfront on our trip planning page. Customers can also create a favourites’ list to keep track of all the attractions they plan to visit during their trip. The aim was and still is to offer customers a platform where they can plan their dream multi-destination trip in half the time than the traditional online researching method of ‘Googling’, and then booking aspects of the trip in multiple transactions. 

Once a customer invests a lot of time and energy in planning an inspiring trip, we know how important it is for this information to be retained and later used to help book all their travel products. This is where travelplanbooker.com stands out from the competition.

Hidden behind each of our unique booking tiles, customers can search and add a huge variety of travel products from both low cost and full service airlines (both business class, and economy), along with hotels, buses, trains, car rentals and paid excursions to their itinerary. What’s innovative about our platform is that customers can recall their favourites’ list to search for relevant excursions as well to establish how far these attractions are from a specific hotel that they may be interested in staying at. 

Offering further flexibility, when booking attractions and excursions, travellers can select which party members to book onto each activity. For example, some holidaymakers aren’t so keen on heights so may choose to opt-out of certain excursions. This is easily managed in the personalised trip planner, ensuring each holidaymaker is booked onto the activities they wish to experience. 

Who are some of your current clients and what kind of properties/partners are you looking to attract?
Our current business model is B2C, therefore anyone with access to the internet and a smart device are essentially our clients. From a partnership perspective, we are currently working with a variety of travel providers including Best Western, easyJet, Emirates, Hilton, ibis, JAL, Lufthansa, Marriott, Swiss, and Virgin Atlantic to name but a few.

We are also partnered with AMEXCO, PayPal, Mastercard and VISA, for secure online payments. In the near future we will be offering our customers more train travel and paid excursion options by extending the number of suppliers we partner with. Watch this space!

What is travelplanbooker.com’s mission statement?
Our mission is to offer customers an intuitive one-stop-online travel shop that prides itself on providing flexible planning and booking processes which are 100 per cent tailorable and meet everyone’s budget and travel needs. 

How has technology influenced the travel industry over the last ten years? 
Technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade, which can be seen from the exponential growth of the online travel industry. Helping fuel this growth can be attributed to much of the modern world now having access to a smart device as well as fast internet speeds.

These two factors allow running simultaneous API requests and processing intense travel searches to be a speedy process. The rise of travel blogs and general access of information via the internet has led to customers being more comfortable to design their own complex travel itineraries without the need of a travel agent. travelplanbooker.com is designed to bridge that gap so that more travellers can become their own travel agent and book exactly what they want, rather than where the travel agent receives the most commission. 

Finally, where’s next on your travel bucket list for 2023?
My plan in 2023 is to make the most out of living in Central Europe by visiting a number of smaller European cities I never managed to get to but always dreamt of visiting. High on my 2023 bucket list includes Palermo in Italy, Annecy in France, Corfu in Greece, The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.  If time permits, I would absolutely love to visit both South Africa for a safari and Uganda or Rwanda for a close encounter with a troop of Silverback gorillas. I could go on and on for days speaking about my bucket list. 

Start the adventure: travelplanbooker.com

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