Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Imagine filling in an online questionnaire, paying a fee and having someone else plan a surprise vacation for you, from the destination to the activities you will do once there.
The Vacation Hunt offers just that, founded by two residents near Columbia Pike about two months ago. Co-founder Roshni Agarwal said it was inspired by their love of travel, which she does a lot with husband and co-founder Jeff Allen.
“People are always commenting, ‘How do you decide where to go? How do you have time to plan everything?'” Agarwal said. “Our response is always that we just go. We see an open weekend, and we say we’ll just go somewhere. It doesn’t really matter where, we just go.”
On its website, those interested in such a planned vacation enter basic details like whether they want to travel domestically or abroad, how long for and if they want to travel alone or with others.
Then, a questionnaire gives customers options of the kind of vacation they are looking for — a city break, beach vacation or adventure holiday, for example — and they can list anywhere they have already been or are already planning to go to. Would-be vacationers also specify which airport they would prefer to fly out of.
With that form filled out and money paid, customers have the option of receiving clues about their destination either via social media, email or text message, to build the anticipation. Then a week before departure date, a full itinerary is sent out with travel and accommodation details as well as activities.
The company also offers separate trip planning for those with their destination already in mind, helping create an itinerary based on customers’ budgets.
Agarwal said having the vacation be something of a surprise is to try and inject an element of fun into the planning process.
“When you’re older, everything is kind of planned for you, at least that’s been my thing,” she said. “You have your life goals and whatever, and whenever you do have surprises, they’re not good. You never get a good surprise as an adult, or at least I have yet to. I wanted to do something that would be fun and bring back that joy of being young again.”
Already, Agarwal said, The Vacation Hunt has planned a variety of surprise trips, including its first group outing as it sent 20 people to Seattle for a surprise party. Agarwal said it has gained a following in Dallas, where the pair lived before moving to Arlington, and that now its focus is on growing its stature in the D.C. region.
The company has also been approached to help engaged couples plan their honeymoons, a market Agarwal said they might look to expand in the future.
“We’ve also been asked to do two honeymoons, so we might try to expand more into the honeymoon area, because you’re already under the stress of wedding planning, it’s one less thing to do, which we hadn’t really thought of when we started this,” she said.
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