The upcoming Dallas Cowboys season includes a road game at legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a tempting pilgrimage for any football fan.
Planning this trip could take visits to several different websites for air travel, hotel and game tickets. Or, just a few clicks on the Fandeavor website can take care of the entire itinerary, including the flight, ground transportation to the game and a pre-game tailgate party.
“We’re not a big brand yet, we’re trying to get that first purchase. Once we get that first purchase, customers are just loving the convenience for the trips after,” said Dean Curtis, chief technology officer and co-founder. “It’s so easy for them once they trust us. It’s building that trust. Once we added airfare, there’s nobody else who does what we do.”
Fandeavor is a startup based in the Dallas Entrepreneurial Center in the West End of downtown started by Curtis and Tom Ellington in 2012. The two worked at Zappos.com before it was purchased by Amazon for $1 billion. Since originally starting Fandeavor in Las Vegas, the company has already surpassed the $1 million revenue mark and opened a Dallas office to go along with its headquarters in Las Vegas.
“It’s so easy for them once they trust us. It’s building that trust. Once we added airfare, there’s nobody else who does what we do.”
Curtis said the original idea was to sell once-in-a-lifetime sports experiences, such as running through the tunnel with an NFL team or getting into the locker room before an NBA game.
What they found was that their customers kept asking them the same questions about where to book hotels or the best place to sit for a game. At the time, Curtis thought there were enough established websites out there to help people find a hotel or buy game tickets on the secondary market.
But they decided to experiment with it anyway and it’s been a huge success, using it first for the Dallas Cowboys and, starting this season, for all 32 NFL teams.
Besides the Cowboys, the biggest market for Fandeavor trips is the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, and the Green Bay Packers.
The Fandeavor website takes all the guesswork out of booking a trip. Behind the scenes, there are a number of complex algorithms to find the hotels closest to the venue or closest to the middle of the action.
Many of the packages include tours of the stadium, access to tailgates and ground transportation to the event on game day. For the Cowboys packages, they offer a motor coach with Direct TV and drinks to enjoy more football.
“It feels just as easy as adding everything else from the package,” Curtis said. “Our customers are really, really liking it.”
“Right now the NFL is a moneymaker for us. It’s helping us validate our technology.”
From beginning to end, the price is always clear and transparent. It adjusts accordingly as users adjust airfare or switch hotels.
“We try to make it feel like you aren’t breaking the bank,” Curtis said. “There’s a lot that you’re getting.”
Now that they’ve tackled the NFL, Curtis said they plan to scale up their NASCAR trip packages and then college football.
“Right now the NFL is a moneymaker for us. It’s helping us validate our technology,” Curtis said.
They’re even helping people get to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Canceled flights have caused problems for many travelers but Fandeavor handles that, too.
“We take responsibility for the airlines,” Curtis said.
Oftentimes, they can get the problem resolved in a matter of minutes and get the traveler booked on another flight.
Long-term, they’d like to scale up the MLB and NBA trip packages but it’s more difficult because there are more games and the margins are lower. For example, baseball fans can look at hotels and tickets for home and away games on Fandeavor but they have to be purchased through other websites.
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