Like many entrepreneurs, Melonie Dando was inspired by a problem no one else had thought to solve.
Her platform, UseMyBooking, was as an idea spawned from a busy lifestyle working for large corporate organisations.
Her job would require her to travel at short notice, leaving her personal arrangements often cancelled.
After booking hotel rooms which were non-refundable only to have plans change, she was forced to offer the otherwise perfectly good bookings to friends to avoid them going to waste.
“I thought to myself, ‘there must be something out there that could help me in this situation’,” she told BusinessCloud.
“What we’ve created, based off my experience, is a platform where you can list something in less than two minutes, on the go. It’s instant, right up until the time of the event.”
Described as “a full, collaborative and connected network system”, it allows otherwise unrefundable bookings and tickets to be listed and bought for retail price or less in just a few minutes.
“If you’re stuck on a motorway going to a concert and you’re in a traffic jam, you have an opportunity to list your tickets for somebody to buy them without going to a ticket tout,” said Dando.
So far the firm has focused on hotel bookings, a market that “really hasn’t been tackled properly before”.
But start-up, which now has four employees in its London office alongside developers in Dubai, is planning to expand to make the same savings possible in business bookings and travel.
“The large corporations employ travel management companies to do their travel,” said Dando.
“A lot of the large corporations’ policy is to find the cheapest hotel room, the cheapest train ticket, or the cheapest taxi or flight.”
This policy makes a B2B offering an obvious next step and one which is being built into the firm’s app at the moment.
It will help to provide the ‘joined up’ thinking which Dando says lots of corporates lack. Travel management companies, for example, won’t have to suffer the same losses on unused travel and rooms that its consumer users do.
But the policy also makes its listed cut-rate hotel rooms an obvious choice. “We are launching, in the background, a B2B facility that will deal with major businesses in two areas,” said Dando.
“One is going to be a white label facility, and another will offer businesses such as travel management companies the ability to use our platform to offer additional services back to the business.”
Back to the consumer market, Dando said the firm is recouping the value lost in unused gift cards by adding the ability to buy and sell them in the coming weeks.
Thirty per cent of gift cards are left in drawers, said Dando. “Industry and businesses like to sell gift vouchers because they know 30 per cent of it is money straight to the bottom line for them,” she said.
“If you can get some kind of cash back for that gift voucher, it’s better than not using it.”
As a business model, the firm takes a cut of the tickets sold, but won’t charge sellers who fail to find a buyer. Those who are successful get their money 48 hours after the event, hotel booking or travel – provided everything goes well.
Dando said that the early responses to the app have been “amazing”, and these include attendees of the business travel conference.
It is now planning a global switch-on next year which will launch with nine new languages supported and the new B2B operations on board.