Net Effects, the start-up website technology provider to independent agents, has developed the online equivalent of traditional handwritten late deal window cards (see the video below for a demonstration).
LateCards.co.uk allows operators to automatically populate deals pages on the sites of agents whether they have already joined the Net Effects network or not.
It currently has 72 members, including some of the most successful and acclaimed independent high street agencies.
Net Effects is now looking to sign up operators to LateCards, claiming that sending deals out by email and expecting agents to react quickly enough to get them in front of customers is a broken model.
Steve Rushton, co-founder of Net Effects, said: “Operators rely on email to send offers to the trade but most never get seen by potential customers with agent websites too costly and difficult to update on a daily basis.
“At worst the email isn’t even seen by some staff in the agencies and isn’t on hand when a potential client requires it. Both agents and operators we work with know the channel doesn’t work but until LateCards there was no alternative.
“Selling late availability via agents was always a great distribution route for operators in the 90s with the autofax, but users now search online for offers, not just in shop windows.
“LateCards is the 2012 version of the autofax – but now making sure that the painstaking process of uploading to websites and social media channels is automated.”
A test LateCards page has been set up to showcase the product with travel agency Tickets Anywhere with deals which have been uploaded manually by Net Effects.
Kent Laws, Net Effects’ other co-founder, said the service has been priced to make it a cost-effective way for both operators and agents to distribute their deals.
The cost depends on the number of agents using the service but Laws said it would work out at between £10 and £30 per agent per month.
“This makes it really transparent and I don’t think there is an operator who wouldn’t be prepared to pay £10 to £30 per agent a month,” he said.
A range of solutions have been devised for agents. This includes a LateCards iFrame that inserts the offers page into an existing website for £49 a month.
For the same monthly cost agents can take Net Effects lite, which is a website without the core holiday search functionality but with the deals page. For agents already taking the Net Effects website solution the price is £35 a month.
Agents using LateCards can determine which operators they want to promote although they cannot as yet decide which deals they want, although this functionality is in development. LateCards automatically posts the deals to the agents’ Facebook page or Twitter account and the agent can pre-set up to three timed Tweets or Facebook posts per day.
The system also allows agents to print off the deals to place a late offer card in their shop window or download, print or email as a PDF. All deals are fully branded to the agents’ requirements.
Laws said: “From an agents’ point of view this is all fully branded so they have ownership of that deal, and for operators many do not want to be seen to be discounting because it undermines the brand.
“What LateCards allows, because it’s off brand, is for operators to do it discount under the radar.”
Laws said Net Effects was developing new templates to give its agents a range of options for their websites, some of which will give agents the opportunity to promote deals on their homepages.