A SOCIAL network focusing on travel and offering a "one-stop shop" for every aspect of a trip is aiming to have at least five to 10 million members by this time next year.

That is according to Chris Newlands, managing director of Talk Holiday, who set up the brand after his own family's travel experiences made him realise there were gaps in the market regarding various aspects of holidaymaking.

The idea was in fact prompted when his stepson Mark was planning a holiday in Ibiza and unsuccessfully searching the internet for like-minded holidaymakers who would be there at the same time.

Mr Newlands says he then began to look at the other travel "blind spots" not catered for, and the site launched earlier this year.

Based in Glasgow city centre, it now has about 3,500 members who can chat to other travellers and relevant providers, giving them what he describes as a "whole new level of engagement".

Mr Newlands, who served with the Royal Navy before becoming a chartered financial planner, said: "At the moment, we book a holiday in January and don't do anything else about it until July. Talkholiday's interactive membership will let people discover who's going to be in the pool with them - and seek out a quieter pool if it's going to be noisy, or vice versa.

"The filters in the site let people look at who's going to be in the same location as them, by factors such as age, demographic and marital status. Users can filter down to small groups of people with whom they share interests," he said, suggesting festivals and sporting events abroad as prime examples.

"People can also store historic trips on their profile to let other users tap into their knowledge and experience."

It also offers crisis support, which Mr Newlands said arose from a "nightmare" holiday in Egypt. "My wife became ill, my phone was stolen and I was desperately trying to contact the UK for help," he said.

The site's support package can securely store information such as emergency contact, flight ticket, and passport details, and Mr Newlands said: "If something does go wrong, you want to make sure there's a safety net there."

Also available via the site are the likes of discounted hotel rooms, days out and theatre tickets as well as holiday essentials like suncream and clothing, and it currently has 236 retail and travel partners, including the German National Tourist Board and the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

Mr Newlands also explains that the business now has 35 private investors, is in talks with significant international partners and plans to launch a consumer currency card in the first quarter of next year.

Additionally Talkholiday intends to grow its team to nine by the first quarter of next year and by 16 by the second, and is applying for a Scottish Enterprise Regional Selective Assistance grant to support this.

All in all, Mr Newlands is confident that the travel venture's aim to be "the champion of the consumer" will prove a highly successful strategy.

"At this stage, we are standing on the shoulders of giants - we are successfully garnering support from some of the best-known organisations in media and travel," he said,

Boosting its members will allow it to leverage deals with more partners, and it is "a matter of time before we reach critical mass," he predicted.

Mr Newlands also aims for the business to benefit the community, and via the charity Robbie's Dream Foundation, which he set up with his family to support children with special needs, aims to help set up a resource providing respite care.