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gojourny

For $15 a day, Journy will serve as your personal concierge

You surprised your significant other with a weekend trip right after the holidays. 

Just the two of you in a beautiful boutique hotel, surrounded by glamorous shopping, a nearby ancient city filled with restaurants, and the sounds of a crackling fireplace to keep you warm. 

Except the hotel turns out to be riddled with termites and every restaurant you walk into is a tourist trap.

That all could have been avoided if you had access to an awesome travel concierge to tell you exactly what hotels, restaurants, activities and neighborhoods you should go to, and who would take care of all the bookings. You know, the type of concierge that caters to you if you have a luxury credit card or at least tons of time to talk on the phone to explain your preferences. 

Now, Journy aims to provide that same kind of service through an iOS app and website at a price point of $15 per day of your trip. 

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Co-founders Leiti Hsu and Susan Ho tell Mashable the idea for the business came when Susan took a last-minute trip to Buenos Aires. She spent most of her time figuring out how to find her way out of the tourist traps where she constantly found herself. 

Hsu says, "It was crazy how as an internet-savvy person who took the time to research and plan, she couldn’t find the local authentic experiences she was craving, and even still, why wasn’t there a solution that was trustworthy that didn’t cost thousands of dollars?"

IMAGE: FACEBOOK

Journy currently plans trips in over 50 worldwide cities, with Tokyo being the most popular international destination "by far." Each trip is planned by Journy's travel concierges. They communicate with the traveler after said traveler completes a short digital form detailing what the ideal trip should entail.  

The travel concierges are chosen by having a combination of travel knowledge, street smarts and "empathy towards the traveler"  (read: not booking a couple the honeymoon suite in a hotel best known for raucous spring break getaways). 

Many traditional travel agents don't charge the client on the front end for booking trips, whereas Journy does. However, Hsu says, "Millennials[...] prefer transparency — knowing that Journy makes its money on $15/day of travel and has your best interests in mind. We'll never partner with restaurants, activities and attractions because we always want to be agnostic—and these choices are so nuanced and personal." She emphasizes the combination of technology and personal attention to detail blends the best of traditional travel planning with new digital travel tools.

Hsu says the ideal Journy client is a millennial who, "will stay in a centrally located well-priced private room in a hostel and then be able to enjoy a quick walk to Noma and save up that cash for the tasting menu with full beverage pairing because: YOLO."

Here's how Mashable's experience with Journy went down. 

Cons:

No Droid app

If you have a Droid, you're out of luck and will have to use Journy's website. The site has a clear and simple interface, but it's not always as convenient as planning on the fly from your phone. 

No family option (not optimized for families with young kids or groups of more than five)

This isn't a downside for everyone, but it would be incredible to have this service geared towards planning a family vacation that doesn't include any cartoon mice or mandatory family therapy upon return. 

Additional charges add up if you change your mind

When you receive your original itinerary, you may send back as many changes as you like and the concierge will provide one round of edits for free. However, after that round of edits, there is an additional $15 charge for each full round of edits after that. If you totally want to redo a vacation day with a day trip to the countryside, that'll cost ya. If you don't like your experience, however, the company does offer a money-back guarantee on the website. Additionally, changing up a restaurant reservation here or there is free of charge.

Pros: 

Website is easy to use

This can't be overstated. The interface is clean, intuitive and simple. 

No shaming on what you like to do

You might be the type of person who loves historical walking tours and spending all day in antiquarian museums and bookshops. Or you might prefer to go shopping in fun boutiques punctuated by many bakery respites. Whatever your pleasure, Journy offers options to choose from like spas, tours and historical buildings. You don't have to feel judged if you care more about cannabis cafes than the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. 

Asked important questions about what you do or don't like about activities

Sure, you can look up great restaurants and cool exhibits on your own. But Journy asks you what you want to get out of those adventures. It tailors your itinerary to your personal preferences like outdoor dining, hole in the wall restaurants or even specific neighborhoods 

Obtained difficult reservations at prime times

This was the most exciting part of the itinerary. The travel concierge was able to nab a prime reservation at one of NYC's most lauded hot spots. Reservations at any time are notoriously difficult to obtain, and this wasn't a 4:30 p.m. dinner. This was a 7:15 p.m. over the holiday season dinner reservation. This reservation was worth the initial Journy fee in and of itself. 

IMAGE: FACEBOOK

Large range of areas and pricing

This isn't a service that caters exclusively to the uber-wealthy. There is a range of hotel prices, restaurant categories, and activities. Small, less pricey neighborhoods and even alternatives to traditional hotels are suggested if that's what the budget and travel interests suggest. 

Communicative concierge

The concierge we worked with was excellent. She was quick to answer questions and provide suggestions. She offered to book the hotel for us (if you book your hotel with Journy concierge, you sometimes get perks like late check-out or continental breakfast) but wasn't pushy when we said we preferred to book it personally. She sent gentle reminder emails about confirming plans and was tuned into the type of restaurants and activities we wanted. This is a concierge service you would expect from a high-level credit card. 

The Verdict

Journy is fun, functional and provides personalized trip concierge service to which you might not otherwise have access.  Though it's not perfect, it's a fun and very personal gift for a friend or family member who's planning a special trip. 

It's also an indulgent gift to yourself so you can spend your time getting your passport in order instead of praying the Yelp reviews for that amazing place aren't all shills. 

Now all you have to do is figure out a way to get the time off to actually take the vacation. 

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TOPICS: APPSCULTUREIOS APP


JOURNY’S COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL CONCIERGE SERVICE A TASTEMAKER-DRIVEN APP AND WEB PLATFORM THAT HANDLES JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING

It’s the balance between carefully-selected tastemaker recommendations and a distinct technological platform that separates Journy from the array of competitive travel services presently available. They also have a very uncommon and cost-efficient pricing platform (but more on that later). First, it’s necessary to mention that Journy doesn’t only recommend options when traveling, but also handles the reservations (from hotels to restaurants and activities). The technology makes it easy, but the locals they’ve partnered with for recommendations—top chefs, hoteliers and more—lend a personal touch that surpasses those of peer-generated options and keeps more fresh than lists from a singular expert.

“Typical concierge services can help you make arrangements and transact experiences that you already know you want to have,” co-founder Leiti Hsu explains to CH. “We take care of bookings and reservations but also specialize in helping you discover new things, like that light-filled cafe in Paris or that hidden courtyard in Barcelona,” she adds. Hsu and her co-founder Susan Ho have spent years hand-picking their local experts—and it’s a crop that continues grow across the 51 cities they’re already located within. Beyond chefs (and sommeliers), they’ve tapped into local fashion brands, photographers and many more. Their scope of a city is built upon broad cultural recommendations to strike at every need.

Back to their pricing model: it’s actually by the day. “We can deliver this highly personalized service starting at just $15 per day of your trip, effectively democratizing the traditional luxury travel agent model,” Hsu explains. “Modern travelers are discerning and busy, yet they reject opaque travel agent pricing with hidden booking fees in the hundreds, even thousands of dollars.” This is a far less expensive route to take than most services. It’s also time-saving; in essence cutting out time spent on Foursquare or Yelp, TripAdvisor and more—and the time required to organize all that information in an itinerary. Within the app, one can view their complete itinerary, as well as a map overlay.

“Our most requested city is Tokyo, by far,” Hsu notes. It’s double that of their second most requested: Paris. Tokyo makes a great case study for the offerings. “The language and culture are huge challenges, and we handle everything, from maps, directions and making reservations. We even have the ability to find you an amazing spot to do dinner when everywhere else is closed on New Years. There’s no more sitting in your hotel room and calling up 20 places.” Hsu herself, before launching Journy, was known as a culinary connector and has spent years traveling the world’s food scene—and collecting individuals of the same ilk. When that’s combined with the intuitive UI of Journy, and an experimental pricing system, it puts a lot at one’s fingertips.

Download Journy for free at the iOS app store, or explore their services further on their website.