Whether it’s a daily deal site bombarding your mobile or a straight from the merchant’s mouth “getaway” fare, “flash sales” are the hot e-commerce tool of the moment. And why not? These short-term, deep-discounted sales help match a merchant's otherwise unused inventory with last-minute customers on the hunt for a deal.
Think, the lunchtime speed dating of the tech-business world.
It’s with that in mind that EveryLodge.com, a New York based start-up, launched last week. Whereas other travel sites like Kayak or Priceline often offer deep discounts, they're usually limited access to flash sales or “members only” deals.
EveryLodge aims to aggregate all available hotel flash sales in a single, searchable digital home.
EveryLodge is the brainchild of founder and CEO Andrew Nicol who launched the site with the help of the Chilean government’s entrepreneurship initiative, Start-Up Chile. The program aims to cultivate a culture of innovation in the South American country by attracting entrepreneurs from around the world with seed money to launch new businesses. Nicol lived in Santiago for six months developing his project before its eventual launch.
“More and more sites were offering hotel flash sales, and I figured that although some of them would be more successful than others, it was unlikely that any of them would emerge dominant,” said Nicol. “A fragmented space where consolidation is unlikely is a great candidate for an aggregator service.”
But as more Internet companies protect their data from automated Internet aggregators (also known as “bots” or “spiders”) through stricter Terms of Service, how to aggregate other companies’ data without running afoul of the law is the main problem facing the young company. EveryLodge is currently tracking 14 sites that offer flash sales and verifying that data manually. Ultimately a partnership between EveryLodge and flash sale creators is the ideal model, but — for the time being — Nicol is trying to get off the ground without any such deals in place. The company is placing an emphasis on user-submitted deals and sites, but admits that it’s likely not a permanent solution.
"An important component will be user submissions, but I agree that these themselves can’t completely fill the gap. The classic chicken and egg problem applies: No one will use your site until it has enough content, and it won't have enough content until enough people use it.”
Down the line, Nicol hopes to include deals for travel experiences, such as tours and cruises, but is currently making hotel and resort sales the sole focus. The company is also developing filters to allow users to set price, location and date parameters, and receive e-mail notifications when a matching deal is set to start.
Navigating the murky waters of international venture capital funding and the ambigous legal footing of the Internet business? Just another day in the digital life for Andrew Nicol.