Today I chat to Scott Thompson the co-founder of Bungolow.com, a luxury travel site offering savings to Latin American destinations. In 2011, Bungolow was chosen to participate in the inaugural Start Up Chile incubator. Thompson holds an MBA from Tulane University and is originally from Rockville, Maryland (USA)…
1. Describe your travel business, exactly what does it offer?
Bungolow is a members-only travel club featuring private sales for upscale Latin American hotel and resort bookings at rates of up to 50% off.
2. Who is behind the business and how long has it been in operation?
My co-founder, Scott Bird, and I met in high school in Rockville, Maryland. Ever since our high school days we would talk about starting a business, and last year we took the leap. In early 2011, Bird’s brother sent us information about a new program for entrepreneurs called Start Up Chile. It was then that we developed the concept of Bungolow.
At the time, Bird was the CFO of a liquor distributor and I was a Marketing Analyst for a global company. We applied to Start Up Chile in February, were accepted in late April, left our stable careers and came to Chile in July. We then launched the beta version of Bungolow in November. It has been quite a busy year.
3. What is unique about your business compared to your competitors?
The private sales model for travel has been around for a few years in the United States and Europe. While some of the existing companies have sales every so often in Latin America, they really don’t focus on Latin American properties or Latin American travelers. Bungolow features only Latin American hotels and resorts. We launched in English back in November and released the Spanish version of our site this week! We’ll also be rolling out a Portuguese version of the site in the next few weeks.
4. Who are your target customers?
Our target customers are travelers. Period. I know that sounds pretty broad, but we’re convinced that there is a universal spirit that ties travelers together. The diverse network of travel bloggers is evidence of this. Bungolow attracts everyone from the Chilean looking for a local, weekend getaway, to the backpacker seeking a few nights in luxury between campgrounds, to the U.S. couple that has saved for their 2-week Latin American vacation.
5. How do you market your travel business?
We rely heavily on our members to do our marketing for us. During the development process, we baked in a system on our website to reward our members for inviting their friends. With that system in place, it’s our job to consistently provide our members with a great product that is worth talking about and sharing with friends.
6. How many people does your travel business employ?
Along with the two co-founders, our team consists of a full-time employee and two part-time employees.
7. How important is the website for your travel business and how often is it updated with new content?
Our website is the nucleus of our business, as it is where our members come to check out our featured hotels and book their next getaway. We also are beginning to post a ton of useful content on our blog and update it multiple times a week.
8. How do you use social media for your travel business?
Our social media presence is our opportunity to show off our travel expertise. We provide travel tips, booking strategies, destination information, industry news, and fun stuff that we are up to. More importantly, our social media accounts are great forums for anyone to communicate with Bungolow and with the Bungolow member community. Anyone with a question or comment about travel or Bungolow can discuss it on any of our social media outlets.