THIRDHOME GO, the World's Only Last-Minute Luxury Travel Club
On the Go
THIRDHOME GO is an invite-only luxury club for those who can pick up and travel at a moment's notice. GO offers instant booking and savings on stays at the world's most prestigious resorts from the current date to sixty days out. Invitations are managed through exclusive partnerships with THIRDHOME.
Luxury Slipping Through the Cracks
Like many luxury resorts and vacation rentals services, the THIRDHOME Exchange club has weeks of unused inventory simply expire unbooked. The THIRDHOME CEO tasked the product team with creating a product to help book these lost stays. The Exchange club is a bit different from a rental service, which complicates the sales process from a product view. An Exchange member has to own a second home, then they deposit a week of unused time in this home, which earns them "Keys." These Keys are awarded based on the value of the second home and desirability of the week deposited. These distinct units of time then go on the Exchange and can be booked by another member using their own Keys. If these weeks are in a sixty-day window from now, they go "Keyless" and can be booked without Keys.
Our goal in the Exchange product is to book these weeks before they go Keyless to help keep the economics of the Exchange Key system balanced. In many instances, such as with our members who own fractional time at a luxury resort, we have such a large inventory that booking all of these weeks is impossible.
On the Exchange side, we're slowly stepping into a Market System. By using metrics from past bookings, and some targeted machine learning, we plan to adjust Key value to reflect demand. The machine learning model tells our system the probability of a week being booked and has given us insight on how to handle said week. We were lucky enough to work with Andrew Nahlik, who has a unique background for this, with a blend of economics and computer science training. This is mainly targeted at our stand-alone home members, leaving a large bulk of our fractional owner inventory still unbooked.
This is where THIRDHOME GO enters as a product solution. It opens a limited amount of the Exchange resort/fractional inventory to vetted non-Exchange club members, while still granting the Exchange owners Keys and bookings.
The GO app's audience is two fold: the supplier, or THIRDHOME Exchange club affiliates and their fractional home owners with unused or unbooked availability, and the GO membership base, which is handled through exclusive partnership deals with high-net-worth groups of individuals.
GO is set to launch with unique membership partnerships, including NHL Alumni, Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and the NFL Alumni Association.
Product Design to Front-End Completion
I was involved with THIRDHOME GO from the initial product definition through to the finished design and front-end development. Initially it was known as Trusted Traveler, but we quickly transitioned to THIRDHOME GO to coincide with some other branding initiatives being launched by my team. I wanted the single property page to mirror the design and layout of our Exchange and Rentals (with some improvements for speed/accessability), as well as a simple one-step booking process. We also wanted a simple sign in and registration process focusing on the ability to sign up and book a trip in five minutes.
Close Ties with Exchange
GO is a standalone product, but all properties and bookings are pulled from the THIRDHOME Exchange feed. In order to protect Exchange members, only affiliates and resort partners can agree to appear on the new platform. This means multiple units and template properties that may have bookings with overlapping dates or multiple weeks available at the same time, which is a UI pattern I have never fully dealt with in the THIRDHOME Exchange platform. We had to adjust our typical feed and way of displaying dates/availability to reflect a new pattern of use. After exploring our potential user pool (a known quantity based on our partnership deals), I had to create a way for a user to book multiple stays at the same resort for the same time to accommodate family or multiple parties traveling together.
I also didn't want to clone the legacy designs and front-end experience from Exchange, which has utilized the Foundation framework since the very beginning of the application, and before my involvement with THIRDHOME. Foundation is a great tool, but adds a lot of front-end bloat to our application. GO served as a great way to test my own in-house open-source mini CSS framework, ThimbleCSS, as an alternative to improve performance, and some minor improvements to our photo display, photo size, and loading strategy.
Designing Through the Journey (Map)
After defining the scope of the GO application and needs, I began by designing the four simple screens: login, properties index, single property view, and checkout. Since we wanted to immediately begin marketing to our partners, I worked with our marketing crew to create a simple landing page on the THIRDHOME parent site and CRM form before any coding had begun. This allowed marketing to begin emailing partner user lists and vetting.
The original plan was for all potential GO members to be vetted. If the prospect owns a luxury second home, they are placed into the THIRDHOME Exchange. We decided to use our integrated marketing site and linked to our CRM to handle all registration and vetting. I crafted a flow from landing page using WordPress which fed into our CRM, then into the GO application once a user has been onboarded.
Having reservations with this strategy, I pushed for an A/B test between the landing page on our main marketing site and a landing page on GO with a signup form that gave you instant access to browse and book. Since we were only marketing to already vetted and approved groups, I believed we could vet after the fact and remove hurdles to signup. We split our email communication, only changing the landing page link, and after evaluating the data, moved to instant signup with secure links, but allowing a request for more information on the page for users who may be hesitant to sign up.
Our tech team, very focused on agile development, was looking to move fast on the MVP and create a paginated list of all properties unsorted by location. With the knowledge that we're only launching with a few world regions, I pushed for basic sorting by world region. This helped save some developer time by ignoring a location search for a limited inventory, but still presents the user with a general location guide.
Poor Timing for Last Minute Travel
We launched the final product in early March, 2020. We had just begun onboarding users and pushing to our membership partners when travel restrictions began rolling out across Europe due to the pandemic. We immediately pulled all marketing and onboarding efforts to keep users safe. Our product and tech team shifted focus from GO, but kept the code-base updated and added a few minor features, such as user controls and a trip dashboard.
Recently, with the rollout of vaccines and relaxing of travel restrictions, we've begun to soft-launch the product with a friends-and-family promotion to test the process with those who can safely travel. The product marketing strategy is still waiting for implementation, but we've begun booking trips and proving the product and its appeal.