Bringing the best of the Sunshine State to Sunderland
A PRICE comparison website that helps families afford holidays of a lifetime is set for further growth after receiving support from MAKE it Sunderland.
Phil, an IT manager from Boldon and Julie, from Town End Farm, were inspired to launch the business after booking their dream family holiday to the ‘Sunshine State’ in 2015.
Having found it difficult to plan trips in advance of their holiday, they identified an opportunity to launch a website specialising in finding the best deals on Florida theme park and attraction tickets.
“We had been to Florida before we had children, but it wasn’t really until we booked up to take our son for the first time that we truly realised how many different websites were out there to buy tickets from and finding the best deal was nigh on impossible,” the pair said.
“So, instead of trawling through hundreds of pages for hours on end, we decided to ask for recommendations on a web forum set up for people who frequently holiday in Florida.
“Within days, hundreds of users from across the world had replied and we couldn’t believe how many people had shared similar experiences to ours.
“We then created a spreadsheet to collate all of the recommendations and shared it to members via Google Drive so that others could view and share it.”
When they returned from Florida, the pair had saved hundreds of pounds and decided to thank those who had helped pull together the spreadsheet and were amazed at the feedback they received.
Thousands of people had accessed the file and had said how much of a help it was when arranging their own holidays. This was the lightbulb moment which inspired the pair to launch Ticketrangers.com.
Julie, who runs the website full-time, said: “We saved hundreds of pounds thanks to many long hours of research ahead of our visit and we knew we had found a real niche with the company.
“Launching a business is always a risk, but Phil and I really felt like this was something that could be of great help to other Florida holiday-makers out there.
“We both decided it was a risk worth taking, so we decided to bite the bullet and go for it. We have never looked back since!”
Phil added: “Initially, I used my experience as an IT manager to plan how it would work before hiring a web development company to make it a reality.
“Then, after 18 months spent developing and BETA testing the site, we were in a position to go live in July last year and Julie has been working on it full time ever since.”
The company proved a real hit from the off and attracted hundreds of visitors in its first month alone.
Six months since the website went live and growth has been rapid, with the site averaging over 2,500 visits a month from users across the globe.
A huge contributor to this growth has been their social media presence, especially on Facebook, as well as the Ticket Rangers blog which is updated regularly and helps boost the website’s search engine ranking and social media output.
Julie added: “We decided to launch a blog which provides further advice about where to go in Orlando, what new attractions are opening up and tips on how best to get around the state.
“It will include tips such as how to keep kids entertained during long flights and personal stories, like the tale of how Phil proposed to me during a visit to Universal Studios!
“It has been really well received so far and ensures that our customers don’t just come for tickets but to share their entire holiday experience with us.”
Having initially set up the business from home, the pair quickly outgrew their spare room and knew it wouldn’t be long until they had to open a dedicated office of their own.
Thanks to support from MAKE it Sunderland - the City Council’s business and investment campaign - the company relocated to the Regus Centre at Doxford International Business Park last September and Phil and Julie are excited about the future.
Julie added: “Starting in the summer was great for us as we were able to immediately tap into families who were preparing for their Summer/Winter getaway to Florida.
“The first month was always going to be a huge test but once it was up and running, word of mouth started to spread and we have never looked back.
“We now have the new office at the Regus Centre which has given us the flexibility to grow and are looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings.
“MAKE it Sunderland has been fantastic, providing us with the support needed to grow, and we’re delighted to be staying in Sunderland, our home city. We couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland’s growing tech sector continues to go from strength-to-strength and Ticketrangers.com is a fine example of this.
“It’s a company which has carved out a real niche and has the ability to become a real disruptor in the holiday technology market, delivering a service that will add value to many people nationally and internationally.
“We are delighted that Phil and Julie have decided to stay in Sunderland and wish them the best of luck on their business journey.”