Inspiration

Just this week, my wife and I were researching a summer holiday for the whole family when we realised that we really couldn't afford one. We made a savings plan but I thought we could do more than just squirreling away money into a bank account. Other influences are London FinTech companies like TransferWise, who gave me the confidence to even consider providing consumer facing monetary-like products.

How it works

A customer (or saver) sets up a recurring transfer using our app and then slowly builds up their travel fund. They also specify what kind of holiday they are saving for, which helps reinforce saving habits by visualising their goal.

At the same time, we allow supply side partners to make private sale offers to our savers, based on their account balance as well as holiday preferences. Since our savers are fully qualified, after all they have money in the bank for a trip, they are high value leads. Also, since deals are fenced in for savers, suppliers can charge less than on the internet.

Challenges I ran into

Interestingly, it was easier to setup a recurring money transfer than to find hotels for our savers. I finally settled on using Sabre's new Hotel API but unfortunately it is limited to 50 destinations and doesn't have any images. I felt there would be an opportunity to integrate with Google HPA, but they don't offer their hotel ads outside Google properties (as far as I could tell).

I probably should have used some of our (Hotels.com) internal APIs.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Developed the internal APIs first, which worked well and will replace the Mobile First trend in a few years. Glad to recruit an iOS developer, I wasn't expecting that. Really enjoyed writing lots of JavaScript for 24 hours.

What I learned

There were a few features of CouchDB that I realised I was using wrong. Also that Stripe is a really good platform for payments, I would definately use them again.

What's next for Paid Vacation

As far as I can tell, no one has done this before and I think Paid Vacation is aligned with a number of trends. I could really succeed with some funding. There are challenges on the marketing and regulatory side, but other startups are working through similar issues.

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