Always wanted go on a vacation, but put off by the tedious work of research, planning and calculating the budget?
Pack Up + Go is a new type of travel agency that can get rid of all the hassle and frustration by planning the vacation for you! They make reservation for all the necessary accommodations, and they plan your itinerary to the finest details. Till now this sounds just like a mere extension of service compared to the traditional travel agency. But what really sets Pack Up + Go apart is that they will not reveal your destination until you leave (Packupgo, 2016). In a broad sense, this is similar to Hotwire, where the identity of the hotel remains secret till you have booked it.
In order to use the service you are asked to provide information about your budget, travel preferences, hobbies, travel history (so they can neglect destination that you have visited recently), and upcoming planned trips by filling out a survey. Pack Up + Go do not only use these information to build a personalized recommendation, but it is also used to minimize the chance that you might not like the destination you are heading to. As argued by the founder Rasfon: “We know that every city has so much to offer, and our map of recommendations will keep you busy,” “Who knows, you may fall in love with a city you knew nothing about.” (Robinson, 2016)
The company designs three days trips in the US. The design team consists of enthusiastic travelers (figure 1.), it is known from social influence theory that people tend to persuaded by and trust people that are similar to them, in this case travelers.
Moreover, the company is able to use customer-generated feedback (word-of-mouth) as their promoting tool (figure 2.). Since word-of-mouth from peers of similar status are perceived to be more accurate and honest and therefore more useful, especially if the word-of-mouth is generated with low temporal distance (Burth & Hong, 2014).
After everything has been sorted out by them, they will send you an envelope, which they urge you to NOT open yet in order to keep the surprise factor till the very last moment. This envelope contains the confirmations and the city guide, a personalized list of recommended activities during your trip (figure 3.). It is worth mentioning that the bill you paid for after you submitted the request does not include other incurred expenses such as food and entertainment during the activities. It only covers the accommodation, transportation and planning expenses (Robinson, 2016).
A week before the departure date you will receive an e-mail containing the following information: the weather forecast of the unknown destination, recommended items to pack, any luggage size restrictions, where to go and when (e.g. Central station at 11AM). And now you are allowed to open the envelop and start packing!
This is a very interesting business model. But the fact that the service is limited to the boundary of U.S. more or less attenuates its “surprise me” factor -the core distinction compared to traditional travel agency- despite that U.S. is a huge country to explore. Therefore if Pack up + Go wants to increase the surprise factor to an indefinite level then it is necessary for them to remove such restriction, because exploring different cultures across the globe is what makes travelling so unique and appealing.
Burtch, G., Hong, Y. (2014) ‘What Happens When Word of Mouth Goes Mobile?’, Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems, Auckland, New Zealand
Robinson, M. (2016) This Startup will plan your vacation – but won’t reveal the destination until you leave, http://www.techinsider.io/pack-up-go-sends-people-on-surprise-vacations-2016-1