Youtravel.comAccommodation-only site Youtravel.com launched last September and offers 2,500 directly contracted hotels in 88 resorts in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the US.

The site has recently added Italy to its programme with six destinations – including Milan and Venice. Mexico and the Dominican Republic are also being added to the site, while there are plans to add more city-break destinations to complement the beach product.

The company has recently switched from an agent to a principal to take the responsibility of the health and safety of the customer away from the agent.

 

Usability/navigation

The site is quick, clean and easy to use with bookings taking as few as three clicks.

The accommodation search function takes centre stage on the home page and includes a number of clever tools to help the agent modify the search, including a specific hotel box, the ability to click multiple or individual star ratings and room types as well as the ability to do multiple room searches – and put different numbers of people in different rooms – within one accommodation search.

The advanced search box allows agents to look for properties based on the temperature and a hotel’s facilities, including gym, parking, indoor swimming pool and Internet access. There is also a family hotel search, which only covers hotels with kids’ clubs and other family-related facilities. However, the site uses a dropdown box for the dates, whereas a calendar format could make the search process quicker.

 

Functionality

The site includes detailed information on hotels’ facilities as well as a gallery of pictures.

However, despite offering a number of high-quality photos on each hotel, agents are unable to click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Youtravel.com focuses on working with agents on the traditional commission structure, although it can offer net rates on request.

 

Conclusion

Youtravel.com’s launch into the competitive accommodation-only sector was a brave move as the site is competing with a number of established players. But it is fast, with a clean design and the technology provides a number of search facilities that make it easy for agents to find the right hotel for their clients.

The fact that it’s not possible to enlarge the hotel pictures might cause agents a problem with clients who want more reassurance.

The site also doesn’t offer any maps which would allow the agent to show the customer where the accommodation is in relation to the resort. However, Travel Weekly understands there are plans to introduce interactive maps.

Overall, it’s an excellent site which should be well received by agents.

 

Expert’s view

Paul Richer, senior partner, Genesys

Genesys senior partner Paul RicherYoutravel.com is by no means the most agent-friendly dynamic packaging site.  It appears to have been designed for the consumer, with agent functionality tacked on. 

Agents have to log in every time they visit.  There seems to be no use of cookies to log you in – if you forget to do so and reach the stage where the booking is ready, logging in causes the booking to be lost and you have to start all over again.

More importantly, there is no facility for agents to manually adjust margins. So, if you are looking to package Youtravel.com accommodation with some really cheap flights, you cannot add those few extra pounds to the room price that make all the difference.

Other niggles are that you cannot do a countrywide search. For example, if you want to search for a hotel in Egypt you have to check each of eight resorts individually. Also, you cannot e-mail a quote to a customer. The site does allow you to e-mail a link to a hotel page but you cannot even add a friendly message to this. In fact, when tested, the e-mail did not turn up in any case. But the site is well designed with some really useful features such as  ‘search by temperature’ and charts showing hotel availability for a month. 

One final point: it is really difficult to find the company’s real world contact details. There is no phone number and the office address only appears on the booking conditions. This and the lack of any sign of trade organisation affiliation such as ABTA will do nothing to inspire confidence in direct customers.  Good news for agents working with Youtravel.com, I suppose.