Following a beta in the Spring, NextGreatPlace, a membership-based holiday club, makes its public debut today.
The startup aims to offer a tailored service by rolling up the vacation club, travel agency and concierge experiences into a single concept and says no one else offers a hybrid model of travel agency service combined with the best the internet has to offer.
The team, which is already 15-strong, is led by co-founder and president Tom Filippini (of Exclusive Resorts) and co-founder and vice president Eric Mitisek. The pair are joined by vice president in charge of vacation experience Kevin Roth.
Series A round funding was secured earlier this year via Trinity Ventures and the company plans to initially target an audience of 20 million households in North America before exploring expansion into other territories.
Revenue will be drawn from a combination of commissions from travel suppliers and an annual $500 fee, for which NextGreatPlace will remove the stress of planning an unlimited number of holidays.
Q&A with CEO Tom Filippini:
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
Never before has a company stitched together the best pieces of vacation planning like NextGreatPlace. There have been travel websites (lots of inventory, but commoditized product and sub-par service), travel agencies (personal service but limited appeal to digital-aged consumers), and exclusive vacation clubs (highest quality experiences in the markets they offer, but priced for the ultra-wealthy).
Until NextGreatPlace, no company has cherry-picked the most valuable of each travel service and merged them together into one offering at a price point that has mass appeal.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
From an emotional standpoint, a vacation is about so much more than the sights and sounds of a destination. Itâ€™s about the moments, the connections and the memories made. We operate knowing that time is precious, and your next vacation must be unforgettable. And weâ€™ve brought the very best travel services together into one company delivering on these moments in unbelievable ways.
From a rational point of view, the inherent value in our service for the modest annual fee is remarkable. We believe everyone deserves to have great vacations, so weâ€™ve priced our service in such a way that we can bring these experiences to a wider audience.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
Traditional online marketing, referral marketing and email marketing strategies to target Â rich audiences are at the core of our comprehensive customer acquisition strategy.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
We have a singular vision for NextGreatPlace â€“ to revolutionize the way great vacations are delivered, through a combination of great service, great technology and fully vetted and certified vacation options. The service has resonated hugely with our initial efforts, so failure is the furthest thing from our mind at this point.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
This business has been passionately built from the vision of our founders based on deep personal experience with the problem that NextGreatPlace solves â€“ hassle and uncertainty in travel planning.
Past businesses, while very successful in their own right, were built from a less personal place and therefore lacked deep-seated appreciation for what would resonate with customers and prospective customers.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
The advent of the internet eroded personalized, custom vacation planning. At our core, we are high-service vacation veterans, with a keen appreciation for and knowledge of technology and the power of the internet. We wanted to merge these influential aspects of travel into an incredible company.
NextGreatPlace seems like quite a tall order – combining the services, knowledge and experience of the best travel agent with customisable concierge services and vacation club elements. Too good to be true?
So far, many have tried, some are still trying and many have failed to combine a wide range of inspirational travel content available on the web with the personal hand-holding reassurance you get from a travel agent and made it relevant to the target audience.
For a flat annual fee of $500, NextGreatPlace will plan holidays tailored to the customer, presumably the more cash-rich, time-poor segment, assuming consumers are willing to take the leap of faith and give it a go.
Press material promises hand-picked and evaluated experiences, exclusive properties you won’t find on OTAs and the opportunity to book on the site or via a dedicated travel planner.
This will be great if they can pull it off but there are quite a few concepts out there combining professional travel agency services with exclusive travel content.
The challenge will be to spread the word and gain trust as consumers continue to search multiple sites before making a decision.