Today we hear from Mike Coletta, founder and CEO of Fantrotter, a sort of Stubhub meets Kayak meets Trip Advisor that helps fans with travel arrangement, et al, so that they can travel to where they need to be, to get to the events and performers they want to see. Fantrotter kills four birds with one stone. Simply and elegantly.
Tell us about the service.
Fantrotter is a ticket + travel search engine that enables fans to view the schedules of their favorite bands, sports teams, festivals and performers, and quickly compare and purchase the best tickets and travel arrangements to get them to an event and back.
Planning travel to see a band or sports team used to take hours of research, requiring separate searches for tickets, flights, hotels and car rentals for every potential city and date. Fantrotter crunches all the options across event cities and dates, then presents one simple, elegant list of trip costs. One search instead of four.
The vision for Fantrotter is to address the “event travel” market in a way that no other company currently does. We are taking a far broader and deeper approach than the travel agencies and tour operators who currently serve only the highest-demand events, with the aim of capturing new dollars by tapping existing markets in a new way. That is, to automatically combine ticket data with travel data, making every component of a trip purchasable for virtually any event in the world. We have created a product through which any performer running a ticketed event, from indie bands and specialized festivals to minor league and college teams, is (or will be) searchable and easily turned into a potential trip for the traveling fan. We also plan to serve non-ticketed events, as well as thematic travel. For example, I am a huge “fan” of artichokes (see www.theartichokeaficionado.com) and will, at some point, bring every artichoke festival into our database.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We believe that “event tourism,” such as for concerts, festivals, sports games and other global events, is a $3.3+ billion opportunity speaking strictly in terms of the addressable market that our product can monetize. Our research shows that the average spend by a music tourism fan or a sports tourism fan is often double or even triple the expenditure of a typical tourist. We can capture much of this additional revenue by presenting and monetizing most of the options that the traveling fan needs: specific flights based on the event date, specific hotels based on the venue location, specific transportation options etc.
What is the business model?
Currently, our business model is price comparison (“metasearch”) for each individual component of the trip (ticket, flight, hotel, car) where we are paid a cost per click (“CPC”) for referring traffic. Once we have more scale, we can package the components together into 1-click purchase options on a cost per acquisition (“CPA”) basis, which will also require us to provide customer service. There are so many more value-add possibilities here, from presenting VIP ticket experiences to enabling fans to share rides, to helping them make restaurant reservations near the venue. I am a travel industry business development professional with experience building online travel metasearch and booking engines, and I have mapped out our logical product evolution over the next few years in great detail.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?
Our most recent initiative, launched only a few weeks ago, is “Fantrotter For Performers”, a Facebook app which event promoters such as a band, sports team, festival or even fan club, can install on their Facebook page in six clicks, thus inspiring and assisting their fans in planning travel to events. An an example of the app in action can be found on the Fantrotter Facebook page.
This app and other partner tools we are building form the crux of our distribution strategy. We plan to grow through these partnerships, rather than try to build a B2C brand from scratch. As a musician myself, I am initially focusing on forging partnerships with bands, festivals and music marketing companies. We will adapt the tools to work for venues as well as for tourism boards, all of whom desire to promote their events and drive more travelers to them.
Why are you launching in New York?
I am from New Jersey and have lived in New York for four years. I am very involved in the New York startup scene, being the primary co-organizer of the 1,000-member travel startup Meetup group Travel 2.0. New York is the only place where I would want to launch!