When it comes to booking flights or hotel rooms, I think we can all agree we all try to have that ‘Hercule Poirot’ edge in finding the best deals around. But what options are there if after all the hard work and hours of scouring the web we don’t find something that matches our budget or worse still we book the perfect flight / hotel but something happens and we can’t use the ticket?
This is where SpareFare comes to the rescue! SpareFare is a free and secure marketplace for flights, holidays and hotel rooms. People who have non-refundable bookings can sell them on the site, in case they cannot use them themselves. The listings on the site offer genuine discounts, which cannot be found anywhere else!
We recently sat down with the 3 founders (Georgi, Galena and Zdravko) over coffee to find out more.
TTB: So, tell us how did SpareFare came about? Was there an incident that created a ‘light bulb’ moment?
Galena: We all met at university and SpareFare was born a few years later when Georgi realised he would not be able to use a flight ticket due to unpredictable work commitments. Full of misplaced hope, he ended up changing the outbound date twice, until he eventually gave up. None of our friends wanted the ticket and there wasn’t a scam-free marketplace he could sell it on. Georgi saw the need for a trustworthy service which salvages costly travel tickets and gives people the chance to fly when all other options dry up.
TTB: What made you all realise SpareFare was something the market was missing?
Georgi: There was nothing similar out there! Of course, there are the general second-hand sale sites like Ebay, but they're not suitable for selling travel bookings. There are lots of fraudsters out there too listing fake flights for sale. Flights, hotels and holidays are all quite expensive, sellers and buyers alike do not know if they can trust each other. There is always the question of who will make the first move. Is the buyer going to send the money first, and if so, how is he going to know that the seller will send what was promised? If the seller changes the holiday to the buyer’s name first and then sends the booking information to the buyer, how will he know that the buyer will then send him the money? As a result, no one is selling and no one is buying, and millions of flights and hotel rooms which can be resold are just wasted.
TTB: How does SpareFare work?
Zdravko: SpareFare provides fraud protection to both sides by acting as an intermediary. The site incorporates a bidding system to help secure fair ticket pricing. In practice, the process is simple:
The buyer suggests a price they are willing to pay.
The seller is free to accept or reject the offer. The bidding process takes into account the current price of the flight or holiday, ensuring that the buyer always gets a true discount and the seller does not demand an unreasonably high price should the booking become cheaper.
The seller changes the name on the flight, holiday or hotel room only after the buyer has sent SpareFare the money.
The buyer confirms they have successfully received and reviewed the booking information.
The seller will receive the money after the end of the travel reservation. Why make them wait? Most sellers will still have access to the booking after they change the name. As SpareFare holds the funds, sellers lack the incentive to change the name again in order to sell the flight to someone else. If sellers cheat, they will lose the name change fees already paid and the money held by SpareFare that will be refunded to the buyers.
TTB: Do you work with airlines directly?
Georgi: No, there is no need to. As long as the airline allows name changes, the flight can be sold to someone else. This is done very easily through the online account of the seller. Over 40 airlines allow name changes, and every few months we discover that yet another airline has changed its policy and started to allow name changes. It is great to see that airlines are responding positively to this need in the market and giving customers what they want.
TTB: Is SpareFare international?
Galena: Absolutely! We have flights and holidays from everywhere to everywhere and hotel rooms in various countries. We work with different currencies and have translated the site in 5 languages.
TTB: Are there any other companies out there similar to SpareFare? What makes you different?
Galena: We do a few things very differently and our experience so far has shown that we have made the right choices for the platform. Our biggest advantage is that the site is scam-free. Not all airlines allow ticket transfers, and all flights listed on the website are operated by airlines which allow transfers. So, buyers know that if they want a flight listed on SpareFare, it can be transferred in their name. We offer fraud protection for buyers and sellers. We also have done a lot of research on the airlines’ ticket transfer rules & fees, so we can help our users in a very practical way during the ticket transfer process.
The site also incorporates a bidding system to help secure fair ticket pricing. This ensures that both buyers and sellers get the best deal based on the current market price of the booking at the time of the sale.
TTB: SpareFare is relatively new to the market, what challenges are you facing?
Georgi: Our biggest challenge is educating the market, especially for flights. Many people are still unaware that they can resell their hotel rooms, holidays and flights if they are not able to use them. Or that they can buy someone else’s booking at a significant discount. Many airlines also allow passengers to change the dates and the departure and arrival destinations for flights. Travelers have to pay a fee to make the change, but if the flight is expensive enough it is worth doing.
TTB: What does the future hold for SpareFare?
Georgi: A lot of excitement, for sure! We aim to capture a significant part of the world market for unwanted transferable flights, holidays and hotel rooms. We recently launched four new languages on the site and will expand the platform for our non-English speaking users. We are also getting busier and busier and are hiring more people to help with various aspects of the business.
TTB: Do you have any tips or insights you can share with us?
Tips for buyers:
- If you want to find the best deals, you have to be flexible! Consider changing your dates and even your destination!
- If you find the destination you want, but for the wrong dates, airlines allow travelers to change the dates of flights too!
- If you can’t find what you are looking for on SpareFare, you can create a travel alert. Next time when a listing that matches your criteria is posted, we will email you to let you know.
- If a seller has rejected your offer, try again with a higher number, that usually does the trick!
- If you really cannot afford to pay more, you can make the same offer in a few days – perhaps the seller has changed their mind!
Tips for sellers:
- Be realistic about the price! You have to offer buyers genuine discounts, otherwise they will buy direct from the airline or hotel. Getting back half of what you paid is still so much better than not getting any of it!
- Be prompt – no one is going to wait for a week to see whether their bid will be accepted. Reply to bids as soon as you receive them.
- Check very carefully when you enter the names of the passengers – if you make a mistake, you are the one who will pay to have it fixed!
- Give as much information as possible when listing a flight on SpareFare. Do you have luggage with that flight? Any meals or reserved seats? Priority boarding? If you are selling a hotel reservation, it is best to include a link to the hotel website.
- Did you know that hotels do not have name change fees and are easiest to sell? Just call the hotel and ask to change the name of the main guest under the reservation. Easy-peasy.
TTB: Lastly, is there anything you can offer our readers? 😉
Zdravko: Sure we can! We offer a service where sellers can give us the booking information for their flight and we can list it for them on SpareFare, to save them the time to fill out the form and register. On a successful sale, we charge 10% of the final amount received by the seller (after all change fees). If you want to use the service, just send us an email afterwards and quote 'The Travel Bugster Interview' and we will waive the 10% commission for all listings in 2018!