IHeartBackpackers.com – the beginnings of a travel startup

So let’s catch up on just what has been accomplished to make the I Heart Backpacker dream a reality.  First thing’s first- The idea.  I wanted to provide cheap backpacking tours for students and young adults.  I believe everyone should have a basic education in worldliness.  Why tours for backpacking?  Because traveling these days can be dangerous for young adults and it’s always safer to travel in numbers.  It’s also a pain in the butt to figure out train schedules and decent hostels to stay at.

Now that I had my idea I needed to register my business with sunbiz.org as an LLC and call the IRS hotline to apply for a valid EIN number.

  After designing my logo and researching my tours (lots of spread sheets involved for price points) it was time to start setting up the medium for which to sell them.  I registered the domain name Iheartbackpackers.com with godaddy.com and bought a basic hosting package for the files.  For mac lovers, the easiest way to design a website like mine would be with iweb , a web design program which comes with the Mac operating system.  If windows based, I highly recommend Coffeecup html editor and ftp.  But now the big problem is how to set up my back office and shopping cart!

There are several solutions out there for tour operators and travel sellers.  Instead of going for a free shopping cart like zencart, which is extremely basic, I’ve decided to go with rezgo.com.  Rezgo offers a checkout solution for your website with a back office management system.  This system allows me to create not only a product catalogue, but also user portals for, lets say, travel agents or employees who will be selling my products.  This now allows me to keep track of who sold what for commissions. 

Another great feature is the ability to create promotion codes.  This now allows me to keep track of how effective my marketing is.  For example, I can print a promotion code on my fliers “type university123 in the promotion code at our website checkout for a 5% discount” and a different promotion code for posters “Type Kayak Store 331….” and with this can effectively track how users found out about my website!  This means no more guessing and wasting money or marketing materials. 

The last great feature Rezgo has to offer is still somewhat in development.  It is called Rezgo Connect and allows suppliers like me to connect with Rezgo Vendors and vice versa.   This means that if you’re a vendor you can connect with other travel suppliers and sell their products for a negotiated commission or, if you’re a supplier you can expand your sales by offering your products in other people’s stores!  Bravo Rezgo!  You guys are right on the money as to what this market needs.  And the best part about Rezgo is that it costs you absolutely no money to sign up and start selling!  The one downside to Rezgo is a 5% commission they take on sales in the front end (or 1% if done on the backend by an agent or employee).  I believe that the 5% they take is quite high and should be lowered but considering what other providers are charging (rezlogic.com, tripzsystems.com to name a few) it’s a bargain.

For Merchant services I have decided to go with two solutions.  Not only do I have a physical credit card terminal (which offers me very low negotiated processing fee-around 1%) but I also use the almighty Paypal- highly trusted by online consumers but with considerably higher processing rates.

So now I’m all ready and set up to start marketing and taking orders- the hard stuff!  Let’s see what ideas and solutions my readers and I can come up with.

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