The Inspiration behind tripAbrood
I can remember the exact lightbulb moment when it hit me that disruption was needed in family travel.
I was planning ahead for a return trip back to Hong Kong, where we’d had two of our three children. Life was super busy juggling three young kids and two full on jobs between us. There was a lot at stake for this trip –it was an important chance for us all to reconnect as a family and to introduce our HK friends to our little boy. After weeks of using my commute in and out of London to research hotels that let all 5 of us sleep in the same room, I thought I’d finally found a good option online. I was through to the final booking stages and my excitement was growing as I started dreaming of staying in this hotel. And then just as I was about to pay, an alert came up telling me that we were over max capacity for the room type and that I’d have to call the hotel to confirm. Dutifully I did call the hotel, only to be told that it would be an additional £500 for a cot bed for my youngest. Already maxed out on budget, this was a stretch too far. Pretty fed up, I sat down with my husband that evening and we went ahead and booked a self-catering apartment on a different platform, despite not wanting to self-cater. At lunch the next day, I told a colleague about the experience saying ‘there is definitely a business idea here’. Fast forward three years and here I am writing this blog post!
We’ve had our fair share of family holiday dramas over the years. I couldn’t write this post and not share this one too! A few months before starting to research HK, we had booked a holiday in Portugal. A week before the holiday, we started filling out the passport details online that were required for the check in process. And then it hit us – our daughter’s passport had expired. What followed was a totally manic week involving a trip to the Embassy, many phone calls and a promise that we would have the application expedited. The passport delivery was confirmed for 3 hours before flight departure. Picture this – the bags by the door, the taxi waiting outside, the kids ready to go. A van pulls up, hurrah it’s the passport guy! He gives us an envelope which we eagerly open and then our hearts sink. It’s the old passport they’ve sent back first with the corner snipped off. We ask the delivery guy if he has any other mail for us and he heart-wrenchingly says no. Cue distraught kids, as we wave off the taxi man that we no longer need.
I didn’t get it. Why was travelling so hard post kids??
I’d travelled the world, lived in 3 continents, I’m a polyglot and I studied languages at university. Travelling is in my DNA. Yet booking travel for my family was a totally different ball game. My main problem was that I was simply too busy to do all the research needed to find that needle in a haystack – the ideal holiday that ticked all our different boxes. Researching family holidays felt like an ordeal in itself. Gone was the excitement I felt pre kids at spontaneous getaways or inspirational holiday searching. Now, it was endless scrolling of options that didn’t seem to work and a myriad of tabs open on my computer trying to find missing pieces of information. Once we’d finally booked somewhere, I then found myself nearer to the holiday working crazy hours to make sure I was set up for the holiday, with no time to run through checklists and ensure things like passport-gate didn’t happen. Life at the time was a matter of survival – long hours at work, long commute, three kids under 5 – you get the picture. I really needed a PA just to sort my life out. But let’s face it, who has a personal PA these days?
Cue a life change moment for me back in September 2017, when I took the decision to lean into my kids and step away from the career ladder that I’d been climbing for so many years. For the first time, it was me doing the school run. I actually got to attend school events like Cross Country rather than buying ‘I’m sorry I missed it’ presents and I got to be ‘just’ mum. I say ‘just’ because after a day of doing it, I realised how much of a full-time job it is to be the sole carer of your kids. Leaning into time with my kids also served another purpose. It got me surrounded by all the conversations that happened at the school gates and again it hit me like a ton of bricks how many people were asking each other for holiday recommendations. Friends would seek other people’s opinions on where to stay on their next holiday. Another lightbulb moment – we as parents naturally overweight recommendations from friends as ‘if they liked it, and I have similar taste to them, then maybe we will like it too’.
Before long, I was touring the country conducting focus groups with parents, learning about what the common challenges are when people book their next family holiday. The message was clear – nearly all of the parents I spoke to relayed how stressful they found the experience of booking family travel. Some had gotten so frustrated that they had stopped holidaying all together. The few who found it easier had personal luxury travel agents that booked their travel.
Armed with the results of these focus groups and 6 weeks spent researching family travel at the British Library in between school runs, I was absolutely convinced that there was a massive opportunity for technology and data to dramatically simplify the process of booking family travel.
Next up, I had to think of a name.
tripAbrood came to me in the middle of a bought of flu. I’d been playing around with a few names that I felt relayed family & travel. But it wasn’t until I had a full-on fever and slightly deliriously I started riffing off the phrase ‘trip abroad’. Broad soon became brood (another word for family in the UK) and before I knew it, I’d come up with tripAbrood.
That pretty much sums up where the idea of tripAbrood came from and why we are called tripAbrood in the first place. We’ll cover how the business evolved from here in another blog post soon. Watch this space!
Author: Alexa Barker