A web-based service developed by a Sanibel entrepreneur could change the way we vacation, matching hobbies and interests to lodging, using social media to link travelers to providers, each step reducing anxiety and costs.
InnJoyTravel also bypasses web networks that critics say are too focused on web industry profits and not necessarily on consumers, said InnJoyTravel co-founder Jason McKee, a Sanibel businessman with a couple of decades in the hospitality industry. The big web travel sites charge up to 20 percent of a transaction package, McKee said.
Developed on a mobile platform, InnJoyTravel is different for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, it provides options, McKee said.
"When (web-based) travel sites are giving consumers what they think they need, they fail," said McKee, who launched InnJoyTravel in May. "But when we provide options, when we provide things you want to do, then we win. We're offering customized travel."
Here's how InnJoyTravel works: Say a family wants a Florida resort stay with snorkeling, sailing or a water park. They would toggle the InnJoyTravel screen menu for the right state, the type of accommodation they wish -- resorts, rentals, RV parks etc. -- the activities or interests they wish to explore, hit the button and get matched to the best packages available.
What's particularly new is that InnJoyTravel users are linked through social media to activity providers, giving access to both reviews and previous users, as well as the owner of the service. That means open channels to educate the traveler, McKee said. A golf professional in Hawaii through social media, for instance, could share pending storm data or course conditions, lifting traditional restrictions on interaction, he said.
InnJoyTravel is linked to the IBC Hotels network of some 5,000 inns and hotels, translating to 370,000 rooms. McKee expects 6,000 more independent hotels to join the site by the end of July. The site also has language translation software, travel news, photo/video contests, features other sites may not offer, McKee said.
And lodging providers using InnJoyTravel get a bonus, too, he said, paying substantially less for services than what traditional web-based firms like TripAdvisor and Google charge for packaging vacations.
"Nobody has been asking the customers what they want," McKee said. "That's what we're doing."
For details, visit innjoytravel.com.