If you travel regularly — whether that’s for work or for play — getting the best-quality hotel and flight for the best possible price is probably a priority for you.
That’s the idea behind Marchay, a private travel club that counts noted event planner Bronson van Wyck, hedge fund director Boykin Curry, and interior designer Delphine Krakoff among its hundreds of members.
“No matter how much money you have, everyone cares about rates,” Marchay co-founder Jon Ein told Business Insider. “People are fascinated by hotel rates. But once you join Marchay, that’s not even the biggest benefit.”
Ein, who was previously based in Paris, took inspiration for Marchay from his experience with corporate travel programs. Having worked with several big banks, he was familiar with the offerings corporate programs could provide employees who travelled often.
Still, many people working independently or at smaller companies just didn’t have access to the same calibre of accommodations as people who worked at Goldman Sachs, Barclays, or Credit Suisse, for example.
“I had a lot of friends who were coming to Paris and asking me where they should stay and what they should do and if I could help them get a good rate,” Ein said. “There were so many issues with organising travel. I realised, ‘There’s such a need for this, why don’t I get my friends together and we can put our travels through one program?”
Ein met Karl Backlund, a fellow travel junkie and an associate at Foundry Capital, the investment company that Ein had started. Together, the two decided to launch the company that would eventually become Marchay in 2014.
“We basically created a corporate travel program for this community, but we really make it more about exchanging ideas and enjoying travel,” Ein said.
In addition to helping you book your flight and hotel, for example, Marchay will also help you find the best places to eat at or explore near your destination.
Backlund and Ein describe their target member as “an urban, sophisticated professional”, many of whom work in private equity, corporate finance, fashion, entertainment, or as entrepreneurs.
To join, interested parties must go through an application process that includes completing a brief interview. To be accepted, you must travel at a certain level throughout the year and be familiar with the best boutique, luxury hotels around the world. The ideal Marchay member also flies either private or in first class.
The membership fee is $2,000 a year, and each member is expected to spend a minimum of $25,000 booking travel through the platform annually.
“It’s important for us — if this thing is going to work — that we’re onboarding the right type of person, so that we can leverage the community correctly,” Backlund said.
Recently, the CEO of a French fashion company was referred to Marchay by a friend. Since his company had just launched its business in the US, he knew that he would be spending much more time travelling across the pond. Making use of Marchay’s exclusive hotel rates helped him save almost 50% on a five-night stay at a Midtown Manhattan luxury hotel.
Having a high-calibre set of members like the fashion CEO is important to Marchay’s business model. By guaranteeing that a certain type of client will book rooms, the travel collective can negotiate deals with more hotels.
“We can book any hotel for our members, but then we have a selection of several hundred hotels where we have negotiated rates, and then we have some where we can negotiate upgrades and specific amenities,” Backlund said.
The Park Hyatt New York, Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York, and the Mandarin Oriental are just a few of the hotels that currently have a relationship with Marchay.
The travel service also recently coordinated a member’s month-long stay at The Mercer in downtown Manhattan.
It’s that personal touch, Ein and Backlund say, that set them apart from a typical travel agency.
“It’s about knowing the traveller and why they’re travelling and what they’re looking for in their travel,” Ein said.
Backlund added: “Someone travelling to Los Angeles who works in venture capital might want something different from someone who works in entertainment. It’s about matching the right member with the right property.”