New UK travel and technology start-up Safara Travel has launched today bidding to establish an Amazon Prime subscription model to the sector.
The brand, co-founded by a former marketing chief for Mr & Mrs Smith, aims to “reinvent the way people book their travel online”.
It plans to do this by introducing a membership model to the hotel industry that converts “hidden fees” or commissions of up to 30% applied by OTAs into points.
Members can put these points towards their next booking, or save up for free holiday stays.
Safara says it gives 100% of the hidden fees back to its members with no restrictions and no expiration or blackout dates, while “offering a curated user-friendly experience and a wide range of choice”.
In addition, members can use their work travel to earn points to fund their free holidays or upgrade their personal hotels bookings.
Safara estimates that on average millennials travel 5.6 times per year, meaning its members would have an opportunity to earn over £800 annually in free travel.
The site has been founded by Maya Poulton, formerly of Mr & Mrs Smith, the online hotel collection, and Joey Kotkins, a three-time co-founder, who sold marketing and analytics platform Inside Social which he launched in 2012.
Prior to Mr & Mrs Smith, Poulton was an early employee of Jetsetter, which was sold to Trip Advisor, where she signed up and managed over 500 hotels.
She has also consulted on marketing for e-commerce and consumer fashion brands, including Lyst, Thread and Todd Snyder, where she spearheaded large-scale partnerships with Uber, Mr Porter, Violet Grey among others.
Kotkins was previously a Partner at London-based consultancy Multiple, advising companies including Wetransfer and Pipedrive.
The company said: “Experiences are the new luxury goods. With this in mind, Safara features a highly-curated and hand selected list of hotels from amazing boutique destinations, chic and easy business hotels and trusted luxury brands.
“Each of Safara’s 7000 plus hotels have been tested and reviewed by Safara founders or their network of industry tastemakers, helping members to save time booking their accommodation.
“The Safara hotel booking membership is the first part of a long journey that Safara wants to take with their members to improve the travel experience for everyone.”