Hi andrewdoronin fans, I am Angik, the founder of Waylo and this is the story of why I left a corporate Software Engineering job to launch a travel startup.
Why I started Waylo
I have been travel hacking since 2008 and despite my best efforts, I am sitting at 4M+ miles/points. Yes, I do have a hoarding problem. But, in my defense, most of my plans are either last minute during peak travel periods or in far flung regions away from where points hotels are. Needless to say, I got into hotel hacking.
The problem: hacking hotels is time consuming. I rarely book anything in one sitting. I research on and on, believing I could do better and prices would drop. Early last year, sitting at SFO, waiting to board a delayed Alaska flight, it struck me: are there others like me who spend a lot of time booking travel? I asked everyone I met, one simple question: “Do you think, you spend too much time booking travel?” 7 out of 10 people said “yes”! For the next 6 months, I would pace up and down airports, asking people how long did it take them to book travel. For leisure travelers, it was in line with Expedia’s survey that found people visit 38 sites before booking a vacation. Travel booking is frustrating in this age of information!
While discussing my findings with my parents, I realized my dad books his trips with little effort. He calls up his travel agent buddy and asks him to book flights, hotels and tours. The agent takes care of everything and advises him on when to book the trip. Aha! Why can’t each of us compulsive deal hunters get access to a trusted agent!
The number of good agents is extremely limited and they typically cater to the luxury market because there is very little money in most travel reservation. However, my background in Neural Networks got me thinking. With enough data about user booking behavior, it may be possible to create a trusted virtual travel agent that can “live off” the meager margins on most travel bookings. And so began my journey to create Waylo.
What is Waylo?
Waylo is your trusted travel agent powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). We are constantly adding new skills to Waylo. At present, Waylo can book and track hotels prices for you.
Why track hotel prices? Users told us that they spend a significant amount of time waiting for a better deal. Services like Tingo and TripRebel can track prices of individual hotels. However, they are still not helpful in deciding when to book. The Crown Plaza down the street from the Courtyard you are tracking might have a price drop. Our beta users told us that they would love to track “all 3-star hotels under $150, within 1 mile of Times Square”. And with Waylo, you can get notified if any hotel matching your preferences has a price drop.
You might be wondering, do hotel prices really vary significantly? Our data indicates that prices fluctuate every 8 days or so. As you might have guessed, the fluctuation is larger as the check-in date approaches. However, price changes even 7-8 months out. The most significant change I have seen is a ~75% drop at a 5* palace in Rajasthan, India!
How to use Waylo?
Searching for hotels in San Francisco with Waylo
Waylo is an app on Facebook Messenger. Which means there is nothing to install. To begin your search, start on http://theWaylo.com and click on “Get Deals on Messenger”.
To track hotel prices, tap on “Track price drops” button corresponding to any hotel. You can either track that hotel or other hotels nearby that match your budget and star preference.
Why should you use Waylo?
Backed by premier early-stage venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, Waylo is on a mission to make travel booking hassle-free. Waylo negotiates exclusive deals for you and alerts you to the best time to book your hotel stay. You can then book your stay on your favorite hotel app or with one tap on Waylo.
Please leave a comment here with your feedback. I would be happy to answer questions if any.
Special Offer for andrewdoronin Readers
We are offering all andrewdoronin readers a free year of our Plus membership. Enter “andrewdoronin” any time to activate your membership. Waylo Plus allows you to track hotel prices in 5 cities and 20 hotels at a time.