Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Rachel James, founder and managing director of Bestjet Travel.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Bestjet is Australia’s leading online specialist in discounted airfares. In 2012, Bestjet rapidly broke into the traditional travel marketplace, using industry leading technology and value for money to win a large share of the market. The idea for Bestjet came about while I was at home trying to book family travel and I was constantly dealing with ambiguous and cluttered websites that always had hidden fees. I just wanted a website that was simple to navigate, clearly displayed what you are paying for, with no hidden fees, and with that Bestjet was born! Becoming one of the largest online travel agents in the country after only four short years of trading just proves I wasn’t the only one who was looking for a better booking experience.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
The beauty of a 100 per cent online agency meant that I was able to start Bestjet from my home. I was on the phone and doing all of the ticketing when we first started, so we didn’t need a lot of capital to get off the ground – just a website. In order for the business to grow, I knew I needed to have the right team in place to support expansion. We now have an amazing group of industry specialists with a combined lifetime of experience. In the 2016 tax year, our profitability was up 35 per cent to $928,000 and we will continue to expand the business as we provide so many more people with amazing travel experiences!
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Dealing with rapid growth can always be challenging for a business. I have found that the easiest way to deal with this is to surround yourself with good staff. I have an incredible team behind me at Bestjet. Bringing these people together and having them to help me has been one of the best business decisions I have made for Bestjet, because you can’t do everything on your own.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
We have an amazing in-house IT team who work hard every day to ensure that our customers are using world-leading technology to find the best possible deals. This makes our online booking system the safest and most intuitive in the sector and really underpins Bestjet’s success. Bestjet offers a positive alternative to the traditional travel booking agencies with our travel specials and easy to use online system. I think we represent a new generation of travel agencies and as a 100 per cent online business there are less overhead costs, which means more savings for our customers. We aim to provide our customers with the best value airfares that are cheaper than booking direct with an airline, and with no booking fees or hidden costs, we find that our customers always come back!
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Definitely Google Maps. I travel a lot for work and when you are in a place that you have never been before, Google Maps is an absolute saviour – I literally would be lost without it.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
The best business advice I have every received is, “don’t try to do too much at once”. I found that one of the most important things you can do when starting your own business is to focus on what you do and do it well, being sure not to bite off more than you can chew. Bestjet started off only doing a couple of bookings a day and we are now booking more than 500 a day. As we grew I was able to implement strategies to help Bestjet grow slowly, without introducing too many strains on the business, which has allowed Bestjet to become the successful business that it is today.