Legal Name: Project Dora Ltd
Location: London, UK
Founder(s): Gregory Geny and Alex Tomlinson
Social Media Following: 3.7k Likes on Facebook, 460 Followers on Twitter, 23.6k Followers on Instagram
Reviews: 4.7 stars from 88 reviews on Trustpilot
INDUSTRY – Online Travel Market in Europe
Size: €296 billion in 2019 (Source: Phocuswright)
Projections: Online travel bookings are expected to grow 3x by 2023
The BeRightBack Story
The process of booking travel hasn’t changed in the last 20 years and the onus is still on the customer to do all the heavy lifting, from researching to booking their breaks. The arrival of a large number of new travel brands in the market has only resulted in a more fragmented research and booking process, making it even more complicated for customers to make a decision. BeRightBack is a first-of-its-kind holiday subscription platform that enables UK-based travelers to pay a monthly fee and then go on a city break across Europe every four months.
I spoke to Gregory Geny, the Co-founder and CEO of BeRightBack to find out more about the platform and the startup’s journey so far.
Sharang: How would you describe BeRightBack as a company?
Gregory: BeRightBack is the world’s first travel subscription service that delivers 3 trips per year to surprise European destinations, for a fixed monthly subscription. With our Go Solo plan for £49.99/month (Go Solo plan), subscribers get 3 trips per year to surprise European destinations, with flights and hotel accommodations included. The £89.99/month covers two individuals for 3 trips per year.
We currently offer travel from the UK to 50+ destinations across Europe and the stays are 3 days and 2 nights long. All our partner hotels are 3 stars or more, located at the city center, and have a customer rating of 3.5 or higher on TripAdvisor.
When they sign up on BRB, customers give us their travel preferences, including preferred break type, destinations, airports and flight times – our team then organizes everything for them and sends them a postcard one month before travel to reveal their destination. It is also possible for users to exclude destinations from their “bucket list”.
Sharang: Tell us more about how this model differs from other online travel booking platforms. What problem are you solving?
Gregory: With the market now shifting towards Millennials and Gen Z, who comprised 32 percent and 31 percent of the global population, respectively in 2019, businesses have had to adapt to the needs of these two consumer cohorts for whom choice and price alone are not sufficient anymore. What our subscription model does is that it makes travel affordable and easy to organize for users, and in the process, helps them save both time and money.
The first problem we targeted is the planning and research process. With hundreds of different platforms to choose from, planning a vacation is nearly a 10-hour research and purchasing journey spread across nearly 4-8 weeks to get there – from initially talking to friends, to searching the best destinations, flights, and accommodation within one’s budget. BeRightBack was built with convenience in mind, by allowing customers to share their travel preferences once and create a trip in less than 60 seconds.
The second pain point we targeted with the platform was the cost. The travel industry has been built on the concept of ‘dynamic pricing’. With flights and hotel prices usually rising in the 4 months leading up to a trip, the customer’s indecision often leads to them having to pay more for the same package. By offering 3 trips per year for a fixed monthly fee of £49.99, By always knowing how much their trip is going to cost, customers are able to free up an additional budget which can be spent at the destination towards better experiences.
By capturing the travel preferences of our customers and building a unique profile for each of them, BRB transforms both their planning and travel experience to deliver a truly personalized experience. This data is then leveraged to match customers to the best possible destination and hotel. For example, a foodie who is into amazing architecture and looking for a little bit of winter sun may travel to Bologna to enjoy a unique cooking class with a local chef, whereas a group of friends looking for an adventure-packed weekend in summer might travel to Split in Croatia to enjoy a weekend of canyoning, whitewater rafting or deep water solo climbing. It is the leveraging of this data that allows us to truly personalize each experience whilst at the same time scaling the business.
Sharang: What was the idea behind BeRightBack? Was there any specific event or trigger for you or your co-founders that led to the creation of the startup? Take us through your story.
Gregory: The core idea behind BeRightBack came from personal pain points and the realization that true innovation was yet to disrupt the travel sector. My co-founder Alex Tomlinson and I are both passionate about travel, but we are also two very different kinds of travelers. I did a lot of traveling in my 20s and early 30s. But over the past few years, I got increasingly frustrated by how little the experience of booking travel had changed in the last 15 to 20 years.
I have visited over 40 countries and am always on the hunt for my next holiday destination and constantly going through a lot of different sources of information. Alex, on the other hand, was always struggling for time and inspiration when booking his holidays. Keen to travel more often and ensure he had a trip in his calendar to look forward to, but unsure of the best locations to suit his limited budget, Alex had even resorted to giving his friend £200 to book a trip on his behalf just so he didn’t have to deal with the hassle of booking.
Whilst the travel industry has seen a decent amount of innovation, most of the new players have essentially made the research and booking process even more complicated by bombarding customers with too many options. The onus is still on the customer to do all the heavy-lifting, from researching to booking their breaks and the fragmentation of the supply-side has had a direct impact on the customer on two levels – time and money.
With an idea in our minds, our first course of action to make it happen was to validate the fact that our pain points were also felt by other people, especially millennials and Gen Z. We went out and spent the best part of 3 months speaking to travelers aged 20-35 and asking them about their travel habits and pain points. The data we collected confirmed our original assumptions.
With the backing of startup incubator Founders Factory, together we developed the solution to the problem: a subscription holiday service for young professionals that – for a fixed price of £50 per month – would provide three quality trips per year to a wide selection of European destinations, with no extra hassle. With that, BeRightBack was born.
Sharang: How has BeRightBack done in 2019? Can you share some numbers on your growth or progress during the past year?
Greogory: 2019 was a significant year for us, both in terms of growth and recognition. To date, we have recorded over 35,000 signed-up users, while our customer base has grown by nearly 400% in 2019 alone. We have facilitated holidays across 60+ destinations across Europe, including Barcelona, Venice, Bologna, Amsterdam, Seville, Oslo, Copenhagen, Nice, Krakow, Split, Gdansk, Rome, Marseille, and Bratislava, among others.
This success generated impressive press coverage across some of the leading media publications in the world, including CNBC featuring BRB in a TV documentary about the future of travel. We were also featured in leading publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, and Lonely Planet. Moreover, it’s not just consumer-focused media publications that covered our platform and its innovative approach to travel. SKIFT named BRB as one of the ‘Top 25 Travel Startups to Watch in 2019’.
And whilst all this press and recognition has been amazing for the team, what really matters to us is that our customers absolutely love us and our service, with over 96% of our customers rating their BRB trips as ‘excellent’ or ‘great’.
Sharang: What are your plans for 2020?
Gregory: Our focus for 2020 is to accelerate our growth in the UK market. To that end, we have recently kicked-off raising a £2M seed round that will allow us to build our team, refine our product, increase our offerings, and market our service to a wider audience.
On the product front, we are focused on over-indexing on the value we provide our customers. This will come in the form of a loyalty program that rewards customers for traveling with us. In addition, we also aim to facilitate access to a unique community of travelers for our users to exchange travel tips and meet whilst traveling. We are also working on a new app to improve our customers’ overall experience.
We will also expand our offering by giving customers the ability to add children to their plans. This is a direct response to the high-level number of inquiries from potential customers interested in traveling with their children.
We will also focus on providing additional services to our customers by implementing a recommendation engine on the platform that will leverage our customers’ personal preferences. This will enable bookable experiences and services straight from their BRB account – from travel insurance and airport transfers, all the way through to in-destination experiences such as tours, attractions, events, and more.
Our aim will be to leverage our proprietary dataset to ensure a high level of personalization for our customers. For example, by offering a foodie traveling to Bologna on their first trip with BRB access to an exclusive cooking class to learn how to cook the local and authentic way. Or by matching customers with specific music venues or concerts, based on their music preferences.
We will also look at expanding the number of destinations covered by BRB, from 60 European cities to over 100 by the end of the year. As the product evolves to cater for longer type breaks (5 days, 10 days, etc), we will unlock mid to long haul holidays with destinations such as Marrakech, Dubai, South America, or South East Asia.
Towards the end of 2020, we will also start looking at international expansion to bring BRB to new European markets such as France or Germany.
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