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Reimagining the travel agent

Dog-gone: Travelling with pets and below, a chalet spa, ski trips and Flymble founders Vincent Hus and Henry Wynaendts

Passpawt

Good news for pooches: this booking portal covering the UK and Europe aims to shake up the pet-travel market. Instead of time-consuming trawls of the likes of Airbnb, pet owners can now simply check whether potential rental accommodation is happy to house pets on Passpawt, which launched just a few weeks ago.

It lists 6,500 properties in the UK, from yurts and boats to cottages and cabins, and intends to have 12,000 European options live by the end of March. Prices will match those you’ll find if booking direct. passpawt.com

Trvl

After selling his digital magazine firm Prss to Apple, photographer Jochem Wijnands debuted TRVL last summer. Each ‘TRVL Agent’ — a fancy term for you and me — can make hotel or destination recommendations to friends and fellow users, earning up to 11 per cent commission if booked. You also recoup the same commission when purchasing a trip yourself. Best of all is the access to special deals and hotel rates unavailable to the public. Partners include Booking.com, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor. Says Wijnands: ‘We’re reimagining the travel agent — crowdsourced, collaborative and trusted.’ trvl.com

Flymble

In autumn 2016, two Dutch students find flights to Thailand for £500. Unable to reserve immediately, they spend two months saving up, only to find the price is now £700.

Vincent Hus and Henry Wynaendts never did take that trip to Asia — instead, this November they founded Flymble, a platform that lets users book now and pay most of their airfare subsequently.

Using prices found through Flymble’s price-comparison facility, you stump up a tenth of the flight fare in order to book — a small service charge is incorporated into the price — and then settle the remainder in instalments of up to ten. flymble.com

My Swft

Another reimagining of the travel-agent model for our time-poor age, My Swft is a free, chat-based travel concierge on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. You simply input details of your desired trip, including any budget limitations, destination preferences and so forth, and promptly receive curated suggestions in reply. Those are bookable on the My Swft site, live since September. Individual components, from flights and accommodation to activities and transfers, are also offered.

The friendly concierges are always humans, not chatbots, and price parity versus other travel sites is promised. A city break spin-off, My Swft City, launches this month. myswft.com

WeSki

Ever tried to book a group ski holiday? It’s tricky. Or rather, it was tricky. With the advent of WeSki, things are heaps easier. Debuted this season, the site splits the responsibility of booking between the group, as opposed to making one beleaguered person do all the legwork.

Once dates and location have been decided, friends can customise their own bookings with ski hire, lessons and passes. WeSki then divvies it all up and chases payment from each participant. Another perk is that prices are typically 20 per cent cheaper than other ski operators. There’s a three-night minimum for bookings and only French resorts are currently featured. weski.co.uk