Jay Walker, the founder of Priceline.com, has another bold idea to have one-stop travel and accommodation for business travelers who are looking for the best hotel rewards to reduce costs.
Upside targets small and medium-sized businesses to offer flight and hotel package deals to reduce travel costs; Currently, Upside is open for business in Beta test mode. A mobile app is on its way.
Walker’s new venture also rewards the individual business traveler with gift cards when he or she is willing to be more flexible with tour and hotel locations.
According to Walker, the timing is perfect to launch this new venture. Technology—mobile apps, cloud services, extensive volume data analysis, and an environment where business travelers are willing to make small sacrifices to save money have converged. Referring to this convergence, Walker says, “It was only in the last year to 18 months that it was clear that all the pieces came together and we could finish what we couldn’t before.”
The business traveler goes online to enter all of the travel requirements. The Upside Flexible Engine piggybacks on the databases of travel clearinghouses like Expedia, adding an analytical layer that looks for every possible way to arrange the trip. Upside offers the best hotel rewards for business travelers, including the lowest prices for the best flight times and even a rental car. Once the traveler purchases the package, he or she chooses the earned gift cards from a list of top retailers and restaurants. The gift cards are available to use within 72 hours. Depending upon the package cost, travelers can earn from $50 to $1,000 in gift cards.
Beyond Upside, Walker expects the platform created for the travel market to have a bold impact on other industries as well. Industries such as healthcare and consumer products with a sophisticated, ever-changing data set, where “elasticity trade-offs” can be identified, can use gift cards as incentives for clients/customers willing to wait a little longer for an appointment or a package to arrive.