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Flightbookers.com – the first interactive booking engine in the UK

A story about entrepreneurialism and a little thing called the internet

When Dinesh Dhamija thinks back to the mid 1990s he does it with a smile… A German friend introduced him to the internet and told him he could use it to sell travel. Dinesh remembers, "I laugh now, but I was really very sceptical at the time. He really had to persuade me!" It was 1996 and Flightbookers.com was born – the first interactive booking engine in the UK.

When Dinesh Dhamija thinks back to the mid 1990s he does it with a smile… A German friend introduced him to the internet and told him he could use it to sell travel. Dinesh remembers, "I laugh now, but I was really very sceptical at the time. He really had to persuade me!" It was 1996 and Flightbookers.com was born – the first interactive booking engine in the UK.

"I had to put up with some flak from my friends in the travel trade at first. Why would anyone want to buy on an anonymous computer when they could pick up a phone or call into a shop. And at first it seemed as if they were right. The system worked, but bookings were small. It’s not surprising really, given that very few people in the UK were using the Internet at that time, and far less to shop."

The rest of the story tells itself. The internet adoption boomed, Dinesh launched eBookers in 1999, went public and valuation for the company reached $700m. He expanded to Europe, battled through the dotcom bust and then 9/11 hit.

"I remember seeing the first plane hit the Twin Towers on CNN.com in the office. At the time we had no idea what an awful tragedy was about to unfold and the impact it would have on ebookers as a business."

But eBookers came through and in 2004 Dinesh sold his company for £209m to Cendant, pocketing an estimated £92m in the deal.

This is the story of a successful travel entrepreneur – one that Dinesh is keen to see happen again. That’s why he’s participating in The Get Funded [email protected] Travel Market. Just like Andy Phillipps who founded and sold Active Hotels for $160m. Following their successful they now are keen to find the next start up that could replicate their success.

The Get Funded [email protected] Travel Market, organised by EyeforTravel, brings together the entrepreneurs who have shaped the travel industry with the innovators set to change it. On 11-12th November, 24 of the most innovative travel start ups will gather in London to pitch to investors, travel veterans and senior executives.

The estimated personal wealth of our Travel Gurus alone tops £250m. Add that to the investment capital of our investors and the numbers soon become tantalising. What’s more we’ve got the M&A guys form the leading travel companies who are actively targeting travel innovation. Investment potential and entrepreneurial flair come together at The Get Funded Show, making it the place to be this November.

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website | + Posts

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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