PSFK recently had the chance to catch up with Josh Spear and Aaron Rutledge, the founders of Valet.com - a 21st century travel company partnering with hotels and select curators to provide personalized travel experiences. Built for creative professionals and frequent travelers, Valet members receive local ideas for shopping, dining, arts & entertainment and featured city guides from a hand-picked network of tastemakers around local attractions, hotels and dining. To date, the site encompasses over 80 hotels in more than 45 cities around the world. We spoke with Josh and Aaron to get their thoughts on the value of curation and using tech to accomodate for the 21st century traveler.
What can you tell us about Valet.com?
The site’s pretty simple. It’s regionally focused, which is to say that it is designed for travelers committed to a certain destination, versus a site that says, “We’re going to inspire you to think about where you want to go.”
Hotels are by and large, the place that people spend the most amount of money on a five‑day trip, and getting them 15, 20, 25 percent off that is pretty meaningful. We’re also not sending you to a hotel outside the Miami airport. We are sending you to the Mondrian or the Standard for a four or five star hotel. We won’t publish guides unless we have at least five solid curators, who are experts in that city.
We ask curators to begin by choosing their favorite hotels. They provide us a list of hotels and local recommendations, for which we started about 10 category filters, so you can go down and do Night Life, Shopping, Restaurant etc. You can also can filter the map by those specifications and visualize attractions nearby.
To us, we don’t see this generation as wanting to stay at the Ritz Carlton and have 18 holes of golf. They want to stay at the Ace Hotel or the Standard and experience something new altogether.
A lot of these experts are sharing information that they wouldn’t share publicly. Where are you going to go to find out what John Maida likes in Tokyo? It’s not information you can find anywhere.
Most of the people that are on Valet.com know that they travel to New York once a month, or to Tokyo three times a year. Curators provide a glimpse into the latest hotels and cultural scenes so that a person can go to a place like NYC with little preparation and have a great experience.
How do hotels benefit?
Hotels gain a social facing Customer Retention Management infrastructure. We can give them pre‑check in intelligence about who is coming, so that when somebody shows up at the front desk, they actually know, “Oh, this is…I know a little bit about them, let me take care of them.”
It’s different from other places that you book online, because they own the relationship with the customer, beyond just giving them money and their first and last name. You can’t add to Customer Retention Management with just that information.