STARTUP STAGE: WayAway sees demand for cash-back membership program amid high inflation – PhocusWire

wayaway logo

WayAway is a price-comparison app that offers a paid-membership plan, WayAway Plus, for consumers to get cash back on travel deals. 

Launched in May, WayAway sees opportunity in its sister company’s more than 300,000 affiliate partners.

What is your 30-second pitch to investors?

WayAway emerged from Travelpayouts, an affiliate platform in which travel brands share a portion of their revenue with bloggers who sell hotel stays, tours and activities or insurance.

We decided to pivot our B2B product to customer service for everyone who’s looking to travel. The more you give, the more you get: We kept this wisdom in mind when creating our brand-new travel search engine.

In short, we share commissions from sellers with our users. WayAway gives you cash back – and we mean real cash and not points – for travel-related purchases, whether they’re hotel reservations, car rentals or insurance for your next trip.

We’ve also amassed a collection of travel guides that we’re proud to share with you. Together with WayAway ambassadors, we created authentic guides to dozens of cities in the United States and worldwide.

https://wayaway.io

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.

In a nutshell WayAway is a travel search engine. We have dozens of travel agencies, including Kiwi.com, Trip.com and Flightnetwork – all-in-all about 100 OTAs and airlines.

But there is more. Following the subscription economy trend, we introduced a paid-membership plan called WayAway Plus to get cash-back reimbursement for all travel deals. Among our very first deals, we have cash-back provided by well-known brands including Booking.com, Rentalcars, Viator and others. Users can get up to 5% off airfares, up to 10% off hotels, up to 5% off rental cars and up to 7% off tours and activities.

WayAway’s monetization is based on a revenue share model and a membership plan. Users can sign up for the first year of WayAway Plus for $100.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.

SWOT analysis is a part of NDA documents. However, there is an opportunity for cash back since it’s a growing stream in the travel industry. The same with support. Travelers are looking for customer service, and we’re ready to provide a smooth user experience. At the same time, meta is quite a crowded scene with a lot of competition.

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?

At a time when the annual increase in airfares is the largest since 1980, cash back for all travel deals will be truly helpful. From a consumer perspective, WayAway’s genuine cash back is a saving strategy to make the next journey more affordable.

Cash back is basically a saved part of the marketing budget for travel brands. Companies don’t need to split their budget into different advertising channels, so this is a win-win situation for both cash-back program partners and travelers.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?

We rely on a thoughtful marketing mix, but the jewel in the crown is WayAway’s affiliate program. Travel content creators – our partners – receive up to 50% of the income that WayAway receives from airline ticket sales offered by agencies and airlines. In addition, partners receive $10 per sale of a WayAway Plus membership plan.

Travelpayouts – our sister company and affiliate marketing program for travel – partners with more than 300,000 content creators and solopreneurs worldwide, so it’s a huge opportunity.

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

Phocuswright is a big source of information for us. In fact recently Phocuswright released research based on 10,000 shoppers in eight markets in North America and Europe. This shows that 90% of current subscribers to travel services say they would maintain or increase spending on those services over the next 12 months. Besides, the subscription economy itself is blooming today.

How and when will you make money?

We’re already making money, and bookings are happening.

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?

WayAway emerged from Travelpayouts, a digital-partnership affiliate marketing platform. For a decade, Travelpayouts has been a B2B solution offering travel brands a marketplace to get distribution and monetization via an affiliate model. The platform has more than 300,000 affiliate partners worldwide and more than 100 travel advertisers, including Booking.com, BlaBlaCar, GetYourGuide, Viator and others.

How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?

WayAway is an equal opportunity employer. We’re a truly diverse team of talents from different geographies, different genders, different everything with one big dream to transform the way people explore the world.

This approach applies not only to the team but everything WayAway does. For instance before the launch, we hired a consultancy to make sure our curated travel content reflects the modern world.

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?

The very first plans for WayAway appeared in the middle of COVID, when the world stopped spinning. Then more recently came inflation and a recession in some major markets, and more. We’d say that keeping focused on what we do best and consistently delivering great results was and still is the most difficult part, particularly in the last few years.

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact, so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

WayAway is powered by a unique combination of the highly needed product (in the era of insane travel expenses, we help our customers save up to 10% of travel costs) and wide distribution (thanks to Travelpayouts’ more than 300,000 affiliate partners). There’s plenty of demand; the challenge for us is going to be fulfilling it!   

A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?

One year from now, we expect to have grown our team further and have greater budgets to invest in marketing more, based on a steady and profitable flow of bookings on behalf of our users. As our negotiating and purchasing power increases with more users, we also hope to be able to offer even bigger discounts and a wider range of products to our users too.

What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)

First of all, WayAway is a product, and there is no such a thing as an end-game in constant product development. We do consider eDreams’ achievement of three million subscription members an inspiration though. We can imagine WayAway as a public company too! However, in the near future we have no funding needs.

Our biggest aspiration is to make it easier for people to travel. By discovering the world, we become less estranged from each other. That perhaps is less of an end-game though than a starting point.

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