Canadian Startup Flee is an App That Aims to Reinvigorate the Travel Booking Experience

Posted by Iris Leung

Flee is the brainchild of co-founders Byron Hawes and Zeïna Belouizdad, two wanderlusting globetrotters looking to reinvigorate the travel booking experience.

As one of the lucky startups chosen to incubate with the JOLT Accelerator at MaRS, the program has afforded the young company co-working space, seed capital, ample resources and top notch advisors, such as the CEO of Expedia.ca.

While Zeïna comes from a background in corporate communications within the finance and luxury lifestyle management spheres, Byron has written for the likes of Architectural Digest and Monocle Magazine and has also worked for the United Nations. Since the two met serendipitously in Beijing four years ago, their passion for travel and deep roots within the industry has led to their first venture within the tech space.

Elegantly designed and focused on the user experience, Flee is a fresh take on the travel booking process that aims to take the search and discovery process down from 21 days to 21 minutes.

To book a trip, users will simply enter in their essentials such as dates of travel and ideal budget. Then they can either enter in a target destination or opt for a curated Flee recommendation.

Why are the entrepreneurs going the curated vs. crowdsourced route? “For the moment—we’ll have the writers around the world maintaining the content,” Byron explained to Techvibes of their primary ethos of upholding quality standards. “We’re not sure that the wisdom of the crowd is the direction we want to go in. Sometimes [content] needs to be curated.”

By prioritizing quality over quantity, Flee offers members of its community relevant and tailored city recommendations alongside a number of guides that run the gamut from restaurants, galleries, bars, and even cemeteries and national parks, depending on where in the world you’re at.

While Flee’s initial roll out is primarily focused on city guide content, Zeïna also touches on more sophisticated plans for the site. By incorporating algorithms that draw data from platforms such as Facebook or Foursquare, Flee will be able to create a highly personalized experience by making recommendations based on individual user preferences.

“You really like music, so why don’t you go to Memphis, Tennessee?’” Zeïna says, throwing out a typical suggestion Flee would make within the personalized travel booking experience. “It’s a hub for music and we’ll show you what to do and where to go. And guess what? Next week it’s in your budget.’”

With an initial focus on the North American market, Byron and Zeïna plan on taking full advantage of Europe’s love for weekend getaways and will have guides and recommendations ready for that continent by the end of year.

Flee will launch in Beta in the coming weeks.

Company:
MaRS
Website:
http://www.marsdd.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

MaRS connects the communities of science, business and capital and fosters collaboration among them. This happens physically through location of research labs, companies of all sizes, business advisors, investors and professional services within the MaRS Centre and more broadly through hands-on advisory services, entrepreneurial programming, our structured networks and expanding electronic community. Located in... more

Company:
JOLT Accelerator
Website:
http://www.joltco.ca
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

JOLT is a technology accelerator dedicated to building high-growth web and mobile companies that promise to transform the way consumers and enterprises interact with technologies. more

Company:
Flee
Website:
http://www.setmeflee.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Flee is a travel recommendation application that combines a streamlined booking process with highly curated original content. Flee cuts through the convoluted online travel booking process, allowing users to spend less time researching, and more time experiencing. Flee’s elegant and intuitive interface inspires discovery and encourages adventure. more


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Iris Leung

Iris Leung

Having worked with three Toronto startups in the editorial and social media space, Iris is currently the community manager for CrowdCare, a technology company within the crowdsourced customer support arena. In her spare time, she reads lots of non-fiction, conducts cooking experiments and listens to electronica.  Her passions include helping early stage ventures, reporting on innovation and... more



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