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Innovation & Job News

Arlington-based travel platform lets you design your perfect hotel stay

Imagine If Inc., an Arlington-based technology company cofounded by hotel industry insiders in November 2013, launched a new product, StayDreamer, at SXSW this month. The new platform, which integrates with the company's other products StayAtHand and StayFaster, gives users a place to comparison shop for hotels, sharing their favorites into a collection and sharing those collections with others.

As the name implies, StayDreamer is a place for travelers to plan their dream vacations, or at least their dream hotel stays. Users can search for hotels by location; once a list of of properties is generated, hotels are displayed visually, as a Pinterest board. If a particular hotel captures a user's fancy, the user can click through to learn the hotel's exact location, description, amenities and average room rate over the past year. A link to StayFaster on the page provides a quick transition from dreaming about a vacation to booking one.

"StayDreamer is an aspirational travel planner," says John K. Hart, CEO of Imagine If.

StayDreamer also gives the company opportunities to partner with outside organizations to offer featured collections. For example, a pet food company is interested in partnering with StayDreamer to support pet-friendly travel. "They want to be able to sponsor a pet-friendly collection," Hart says.

According to Hart, there are two main differences between his company's suite of products and other hotel-booking websites like Priceline or Expedia. The first may not make much difference to consumers, but it certainly does to hotels themselves, and affects how and when hotels receive the money for a users' stay, and how they can record it on their profit and loss statements. According to Hart, Imagine If's two booking engines StayFaster and StayAtHand are friendlier to the hotels' bookkeeping.

There's one noticeable way that consumers benefit, too: a big button on the sites that says "Cancel Trip." Canceling a trip on an aggregator can be challenging. Imagine If "embraces the frequent traveler," cancelations and all. "Hotels do make mistakes," Hart says. "We're on your side."

Imagine If initially raised $3 million of outside funding. Hart says the company is in the middle of another $3 million Series A round and that it will be hiring on the other side of the round. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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