WASHINGTON — Priceline founder Jay Walker has opened his newest venture, Upside.com, to the public after and invitation-only beta trial that launched last year.
Upside.com rewards business travelers with gift cards and lower travel expenses in exchange for being more flexible with their travel times or preferred hotel location.
The idea is to encourage employees, particularly those at small and medium sized businesses, to make choices that save their companies on travel expenses while giving them an incentive for doing so.
The gift cards are delivered digitally within 72 hours of making a reservation and range from $100 to $200 or more, according to Upside.com.
The website said that by presenting business travelers with a bundled package of less-expensive options that still meet their requirements, its search engine can save a small company an average of 5 percent to 15 percent on travel costs.
Walker said the way small and medium sized businesses spend on travel is long overdue for an overhaul.
“Companies felt their employees can’t easily find the best prices and often spend more than they should,” he said. “Employees want the comfort and convenience they are entitled to when on the road, and feel any money they might save isn’t worth the time, trouble and quality tradeoffs to find and get those savings.”
The gift cards awarded to travelers come from more than 50 retailers, including Amazon, Home Depot, Nike, Whole Foods and Target.
Upside.com said it has spent $50 million on research and development. It now has 80 employees, at its D.C. headquarters at 1602 L Street Northwest, and other offices in New York and Stamford, Connecticut.