The flash-sale service offers fully guided group events and activities in 30 cities. Its Web site identifies the location and offer packages to nearby destinations.
By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com contributor
Shoes, spa treatments, trips to Tahiti – is there anything you can not buy at a steep discount on a flash sale website these days?
Now you can add fully guided group events and activities to the list. Launch in 30 Cities on Thursday, offers customized experience that combines the local activities, transportation and related services and is led by living social workers.
It is the events and adventures without the interview, membership or focus on meeting that special someone (not that there's anything wrong with that). Among the first victims:
The concept is the brainchild of Maia Josebachvili, a one-time Wall Street derivatives trader who spent their leisure travel planning weekend for himself, his friends and eventually friends of friends who wanted to come along.
"Within a few months I had a mailing list of over 300 people who waited for the next adventure," said Josebachvili. "I thought that needs Wall Street when I can plan camping trips for a living?"
The result was Urban Escapes, a New York-centric company to get young professionals "out of the bubble." The company was acquired by social living, where Josebachvili now is a global leader, in October 2010.
Officially launching the concept offers several turns in a market segment that explode with new products and players. (On Tuesday presented Expedia living social competitor Groupon their new flash-travel product Groupon excursions Expedia.)
The biggest twist is that the activities will be investigated, put together and led by living social workers. The company will also contract with suppliers to Charter not only the primary activity, but also transport, meals and everything else needed to create a "fully curated social event."
And as the name suggests, "social" is the keyword. "The beauty of it," said Josebachvili, "is that you show up and there are somewhere between 20 and 150 people [depending on the specific event] with a similar mindset who is there to do the same thing as you."
Rob Lovitt is a long-time travel writer who still believe that the journey is as important as the goal. Follow him on Twitter.
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Submited at Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 1:00 am on Deals by john
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