What happens when two entrepreneurs with a shared passion for adventure meet while working for Pure Michigan? Naturally, a travel site is born.
With so many places to visit in Michigan, that are easily reachable for weekend trips, both Derek Debiak and Ryan Wenk were surprised at how many people don’t take advantage of the travel-ability of the state. When they looked a little closer at why, Ayyo Weekends was born.
Simply explore travel packages, find the right combination, book and go. You’ll get accommodations, activities, maps and more, all with just a few clicks.
The Problem Being Solved
Sometimes, you just want to get away for a weekend. But, sometimes planning a weekend getaway can take longer than the trip itself. You have to decide where you want to go, what you want to do, where you’ll stay, and just how much all that is going to cost. Your chance to relax over the weekend has just gotten incredibly stressful.
Ayyo Weekends wants to remove the stress and pull down the barriers that are preventing their customers from having a simple, fun weekend. They have taken the most fun and interesting getaway options from around Pure Michigan and combined all the necessary components into one, flat-rate package.
“Our packages include lodging accommodations, an activity, as well as personalized recreation & dining recommendations, directions to all the destinations, and even a suggested packing list,” says Derek. “Whether it’s wine tasting in Traverse City or kayaking in Harbor Springs, we make sure our customers have everything they would possibly need so they spend no time planning and can enjoy a completely worry free weekend.”
Where The Idea Came From
According to Derek, “Ryan Wenk is a weekend master.”
Upon his return to work every Monday, he would always get asked where he’d gone. After talking about his trips, the replies he would receive would often be, “I’m so jealous,” and “I wish I did stuff like that.” And Ryan would reply, “Why don’t you?”
After a while, Ryan began to dig into the reasons these people weren’t taking advantage of their weekends. What he found, led to the concept behind Ayyo Weekends.
While the travel tools of the internet have made planning trips easier than ever and have rendered travel agents virtually obsolete, Derek and Ryan have noticed that people still miss the peace of mind that comes from using a travel agent. This gap offers an opening for sites like Ayyo Weekends. “It offers the simplicity of an online booking with the expertise of a trusted travel agent.” And, at a more affordable price.
Derek says, “We believe our primary target customers are working age ’empty nesters’ looking to maximize their weekend’s potential.”
Since Ayyo Weekends is new and unproven, Derek says their biggest challenge has been finding their very first customers and getting them to book through the site.”We are confident that once our first few customers try our service, they won’t want to take a weekend getaway any other way.”
According to Derek, they’ve been surprised to see that even though people genuinely love weekend trips, it’s the hassle surrounding it that often stops them from taking them.
The team plans to spend the next few months refining their value proposition and target market before looking to join an accelerator and be ready for summer 2016.
While they plan to start in Michigan, within 3 years they expect to take their business model and scale it throughout the country.
Derek advises other startups to, “Start small, cut as much functionality as you can, and get your product out there as quickly as possible. It is uncomfortable, but it’s the only way to truly find out if what you are working on is seen as valuable to others.”
Ayyo is currently working to build a partnership between Ayyo Weekends and The Awesome Mitten. Ayyo Weekends will be planning their 2015 Fall #Mittentrip, after their Summer #Mittentrip showed to be a great success. They will be sending 6 different reporters to 6 different cities throughout the state over a 6-week span with all lodging and activity planning handled by the Ayyo team.