Jay Walker has been working on the ideas behind his new travel venture since his time at Priceline.
Every business trip Jay took over the years was a reminder that he had left a big travel problem unsolved – the high cost of business travel. While Priceline is great way for leisure travelers to save money, it doesn’t help business travelers at all. In early 2015, after a particularly expensive trip to Rome, he decided to dig in and work on a solution.
In today’s marketplace, most business travelers can’t operate within the carefully designed rules that keep business travel costs 2-5x higher than leisure travel – rules like requiring a 21-day advance purchase or a Saturday night stay. Unless you are a giant company, these rules keep 99% of business travelers from getting lower prices.
For Jay, this business travel puzzle was unfinished business. He knew that there was valuable hidden flexibility inside every business trip, just not the kind of flexibility leisure travelers have. He also knew that business travelers have very different motivations than leisure travelers.After all, business travelers are spending their employer’s money and that changes everything. They might make reasonable tradeoffs to save money for their company – if there were a reward system that made it worthwhile. A new reward system would need to out-motivate – but not replace – the giant established loyalty programs offered by airlines and hotels.
The timing is right for a big new idea. The latest round of U.S. airline mergers has reduced the industry from seven legacy carriers to four. Travelers are frustrated with major changes to frequent flyer programs and companies feel taken advantage of with constantly changing airfares that just go up and up – while leisure travelers get super web deals.
High prices and unsatisfying rewards are a big problem in a big industry. Business travel is a $300B market in the U.S. alone (and $1 Trillion globally). There is a giant business opportunity for anyone who can reduce costs 5%-10% and improve rewards.
Jay’s latest travel innovation does just that. It will deliver the cost savings that companies demand and a new level of great rewards that business travelers deserve.