1Plus2Travel: From Sheffield to Seychelles

A former cabin crew member and a qualified radiotherapist, entrepreneur Matt Parks failed to settle in to the usual 9-5 working routine. After years of working for others, Matt decided it was time to go it alone and combine his passion for travel with his determination to be self-employed, and 1Plus2Travel.com was born. He told BQ how he made it happen.

Born in Newcastle but raised in Yorkshire, Matt is a qualified radiotherapist by trade and also a former cabin crew member.

This backdrop has given him a vast amount of experience of working in different industries and witnessing different management styles, which he now puts into practice with 1Plus2Travel.

Matt told BQ: “1Plus2Travel aims to make finding fantastic value travel prices simpler than ever before.

“We are a flight and hotel price comparison website and we work with hundreds of travel companies and have several unique features including our combined and hotel search function and fabulous deals pages that publish up-to-the-minute travel bargains from around the web.

“1Plus2Travel.com was launched in April 2014 but has grown quickly and currently has more than 1.5 million unique monthly users!”

There are many hotel and flight comparison websites out there, and the majority of us have probably used a number of them.

Having conducted his market research, Matt analysed the competition and saw a gap in the market, he said: “The initial idea behind 1Plus2Travel.com (and the feature that gave us our name) is our combined flight and hotel search feature.

“This is totally unique as the user is making two separate searches of hundreds of travel companies and not searching for packages, as is the case on other websites.

“The information is displayed on two boxes with a calculator feature, which allows the customer to quickly and easily see exactly how much their trip will cost, in addition to trying different flight and hotel combinations until they create their dream trip at a dream price.

“More recently we have also launched our fantastic deals pages which have been custom designed by some prominent travel companies and put up-to-the-minute bargains from around the web in front of the customer and I have personally booked some great bargains after first noticing them on these pages!”

Matt had a passion for travel from an early age, which explains exactly why he ended up working as a cabin crew member!

He said: “My passions for travel and business have both been with me for as long as I can remember.

“Whilst most children spend many an hour pretending to be a pilot flying through battle or to sunny shores I would frequently imagine running my own airline and plan which aircraft we would by and where we would fly next, and whilst this company was confined solely to my notebooks we had a successful run!

“Later I worked in a number of roles within the travel industry, including as a long-haul cabin crew member.

“Whilst I left the industry to pursue my studies, my passion for travel never left and after spending many a day at work dreaming about where I should fly to next, I turned this passion into a business in 2013 when I founded 1Plus2Travel.”

Having worked in the travel industry in a number of roles, Matt still needed support to setup his business.

He added: “Having previously studied at Sheffield Hallam University I approached their Enterprise Team for support and quickly struck a close relationship with the team.

“I found the free sessions with advisors ranging from accountants to marketing professionals very helpful, as was the free office space they have for start-up businesses.

“This space had a fantastic community atmosphere and I enjoyed being able to bounce ideas off of other young (and not so young) entrepreneurs and help others to solve their own problems.

“I also entered the Enterprise Challenge, which is held annually by Sheffield Hallam University, and after some intense judging was delighted to be awarded second place overall in addition to a prize for my (quirky to say the least) elevator pitch at the awards dinner.

“The most amazing help and support however came in the form of my business partner Alexander Rahe who came on board (pun totally intended) in early 2014.

“Based in Miami, Alexander is a seasoned travel executive having held board level positions with some of the world’s most prominent travel brands.

“Alexander and I quickly developed not only a close working relationship but also a genuine friendship and Alexander has forged some amazing partnerships with prominent travels brands that have enabled us to offer a fantastic user experience.

“My partner has also been an amazing support throughout my business journey, from help with Intellectual Property rights to pouring a glass of wine when things don’t work out as expected and I am incredibly grateful for all of this help and advice!”

One of the major challenges to any e-commerce business is attracting and retaining customers, and 1Plus2Travel was no different.

Matt said: “User generation (particularly in the early days) on such a limited budget has undoubtedly been our greatest challenge.

“Whilst this was incredibly frustrating it also enabled us to try some really new and imaginative ways of attracting new customers.

“My passion and determination was vital here and I could not be happier to see us attracting more than 1.5 million unique monthly users just 14 months after our website launched.”

Going forward, Matt is looking to build on their 1.5 million active users and turn the company into one of the market leading flight and hotel price comparison sites.

He told us: “Our main objective for the next twelve months is to attract more users than ever before and launch more country-specific websites to enable more people to find amazing deals wherever they are off next, irrespective of where they live.

“We are also in the process of purchasing two new companies, we hope to have this transaction finalised within the next week and this will bring some exciting new features to the group.”

BQ will continue to follow Matt’s story as the company continues to grow and expand across the globe.