Suzanne Porter, founder of Clik Trip, tells us about how after 25 years of living and photographing abroad she created a successful business in the art area.
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Tell us more about Clik Trip
I'm Suzanne Porter, founder of clik-trip; a curated photography marketplace connecting customers to recommended local photographers and high-quality photo experiences around the world. I'm a sociologist, turned award-winning photojournalist. I discovered photography after breaking my back in a boating accident. After learning to walk again, I took to the world with a profound interest in cultures and civilizations, working as a photographer to bring awareness to social issues with humanitarian organizations such as WaterAid, CARE, and Médecins Sans Frontières. My work has been on the covers of international newspapers and travel magazines. Balanced between fine art and editorial, I have exhibited at the British Museum and the iconic hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech has a floor dedicated to my work.
How was your concept born?
After a decade of photographing in Africa, I bought myself a crumbling riad in the ancient medina in Morocco. Here I based myself while working on travel commissions and on-demand from tourists, started running bespoke photography tours and workshops. With my interest in people and getting off the beaten track, my tours took people to discover a Morocco that only a local knows. I learned how my customers craved the same access with other local photographers in other parts of the world. But their primary problems when seeking the best photography tours were hours of research and guesswork. I wanted to help them find quality tours, similar to those I was offering. After each tour, I’d discuss with my husband, an expert in business development. He saw a gap to bridge and the tools with which to build it. After 25 years of living and photographing abroad, I had contacts all over the world. So using my network and expertise, in January 2019 we started building www.clik-trip.com.
What was your biggest challenge at the start of the project?
The biggest challenge was clearing the decks and sitting down and getting started. Then, what was most important and took the most time was deciding on the business model and getting the structure in place. It took three months of planning and building before I signed the first photographer in April 2019. All of our photographers are invited on a recommendation which is also a challenge as I can’t just find them on Google or Instagram. I used all my connections plus recommendations from customers. It makes the growth process of our suppliers slower but as 'peace of mind' is one of our USP’s, I’m sticking to it.
How did the Kreezalid solution help you achieve your project?
Kreezalid provided us with an easy to use structure to realize our project without any former web training or digital skills. Without this structure, we would never have launched clik-trip. My husband started by building the base and then handed it over to me. I have learned so much which is very satisfying. And still learning every day.
Clik Trip in a few figures
We have close to 100 photographers (suppliers) signed up in almost 50 countries and 5 signing up every month (under normal circumstances, outside the corona pandemic) In the first three months we had 30,000 page views with an average session duration 6.34 minutes. Our customers are 26% from USA, 23% from UK, 10% France, 5% India. The rest from the rest of the world…
What is your daily inspiration?
My daily inspiration is the photographers who are all brilliant in such diverse ways. Each is offering something different and unique. I’m a people’s person so still have human contact and communicate with them almost every day. I’m also very grateful to my original based on VIP customers who have helped and encouraged me along the way. Many of them are extremely successful business people who have generously given feedback and been our first paying customers...
What are the next steps in developing your business?
Our main priority is to work on our business model to minimize the customers bypassing us, whilst continuing to increase our reach to customers and improving the customer experience. We feel that this will be enhanced by some kind of partnership with more tech-savvy partners or associates so we are actively searching for those. I’m good at, and enjoy dealing with the customers, photographers, press, etc and have been up-skilling by enrolling in a digital marketing and social media course. My husband is an expert on business development and is there to help us grow. But we are limited in digital skills and believe the business can now really take off if we had a partner who could complement our skills. I want to be ready for the rescheduled Photography Show at the end of September, where I'll have access to 32,000 target customers over 4 days...
How has the current health crisis (Covid-19) affected your business?
Well, it’s killed the travel business for a while and hence our bookings. Most of the suppliers have lost their main income and I'm trying to come up with ideas to weather the storm. It’s difficult when we don’t know how long it will last and our initial investment has been consumed and key marketing planned events, such as the Photography Show in the UK where we had a stand, canceled, generating important additional losses. But our customers are keen for news and inspiration and the March newsletter was the most read so far. I’m trying to keep them interested with material such as videos made by the photographers of their town/city during lockdown. I’ve set up a new category for online courses and am trying to encourage the photographers to create virtual tours and have added a shop for them to sell prints and books. In the meantime, I’m making improvements to the site – all of those little things I don’t normally have time to do and plan to launch the photo competition for our customers who booked tours, once we have some prizes to offer, which I’m also working on... I'm also planning to sign up new local photographers so customers can take photo tours and workshops in their local area when lockdown is lifted but without having to travel internationally. I'm sending out feelers to my networks for more recommendations... I hope we can come back better and stronger when everyone is able to travel again.
How do you think your project or other initiatives similar to yours can change your market or consumer habits?
The consolidation of our research has made it easier for highly demanding customers. Something they have asked for and that I want to continue to improve and provide. The customers don’t like hours of research but still like the freedom to choose, so clik-trip gives them enough important information and a clear idea of the photographers character for them to make that choice. By growing our network, we give the customers access to these fabulous photographers offering great experiences, that they would otherwise have difficulty finding, due to the photographers either being geographically remote or not having the same marketing channels or skills. So, we gather all of this information into an easily searchable place. The next step is to build an app to make it so easy that our customers can arrive anywhere in the world and find a trusted photographer offering photo experiences nearby, so they can decide up until the last minute…