talkholiday aims for 5m members

Ex-Navy man making waves with holiday site

Chris NewlandsScottish businessman Chris Newlands is taking holidaymakers into the social media sector by encouraging them to swap gossip via his new online travel venture.

Unlike the news or information websites offered by the travel trade, talkholiday is targeted at people who want to share their experiences among each other.

The Glasgow-based entrepreneur has secured backing from a number of high net worth investors in the UK and the US and is adding more on a regular basis.

Newlands, an ex-Royal Navy man who spent most of his career as a chartered financial planner, has big ambitions for the project. He said: “It is a matter of time before we reach critical mass and I am projecting at least 5 to 10 million members – potentially many more – by December.”

The idea for talkholiday was sparked by his stepson, who was planning a holiday in Ibiza and was searching the web – unsuccessfully – for other people’s experiences and like-minded people with the same interests who were going to be on the holiday island at the same time as him.

In April 2012, Newlands began to look at the other holes in the current travel offering – the blind spots for which existing companies were simply not catering.

“Crisis support is a big feature,” he said. “It came from a nightmare holiday in Egypt when my wife became ill and my phone was stolen and I was desperately trying to contact the UK for help. talkholiday’s self-help support package will get in touch with your relatives at the press of a button if there is a problem and assist them to come to the rescue.”

Accessible travel is also a big issue in travel circles – but it does not just mean people in wheelchairs. Families with prams, for instance, can share information and ask other users questions about facilities and difficult areas.

Users can also store trips on their profile to let other users tap into their knowledge and experience.

He intends to grow a team of nine in the first quarter of this year, rising to 16 in the second, and is applying for government support.

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