93/ Save Now, Travel Later

FOMO Travel

Indwe - - Advertisements - Text: Jon Pien­aar / fin­week Im­ages © FOMO Travel & iS­tock­photo.com

Ev­ery­one loves to travel. But an ex­pe­ri­ence of a week or two can trans­late into months or even years of credit card debt. There is, how­ever, an­other way to head off­shore. Andrew Katzwinkel’s FOMO Travel of­fers a “save now, travel later” op­tion that kills credit and the re­gret that comes from pay­ing off debt.

Peo­ple travel for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. Some be­lieve it “broad­ens the mind”. Oth­ers want to get away from it all. But the fly-now-pay-later ap­proach can turn the ex­pe­ri­ence sour, says FOMO Travel founder, Andrew Katzwinkel. The tourism en­tre­pre­neur knows all about travel debt – it is the rea­son he’s pi­o­neered a savenow-and-travel-later so­lu­tion.

“I had the per­sonal pain point,” Katzwinkel says. “I couldn’t afford a hol­i­day, so I put it on credit. I loved the hol­i­day, but re­turned un­der a dark cloud. With the salary I was get­ting, it took over a year and a half to pay back the debt. I was pay­ing hec­tic in­ter­est and had to say ‘no’ to a lot of other great ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Katzwinkel adds that he spent a long time kick­ing him­self for not saving for the trip ahead of time.

FOMO stands for “fear of miss­ing out”, an emo­tion that many peo­ple who’ve had travel debt – like Katzwinkel – can re­late to.

He ad­mits that he finds it dif­fi­cult to save. “There is so much I like to spend my money on.” Af­ter re­search­ing the travel mar­ket, Katzwinkel came up with the idea of a ser­vice that en­cour­ages saving and re­wards the saving with travel.

Users sign up to FOMO Travel and en­ter into a pay­ment plan be­fore em­bark­ing on a de­sired jour­ney. It is ba­si­cally a travel lay-by sys­tem. “Travel must be paid for up­front,” Katzwinkel says, and points to the prob­lem with credit. “Why should you start pay­ing in­ter­est on some­thing be­fore you even go on your trav­els? Some­times more than nine months be­fore?”

Tourism and travel is one of the world’s largest in­dus­tries, ac­cord­ing to global statis­tics por­tal Statista, which cal­cu­lates that the in­dus­try con­trib­uted over $7.6 tril­lion to the global econ­omy in 2016.

“The mar­ket is huge – from 18-year-olds to pen­sion­ers. Al­though 18- to 24-yearolds can’t al­ways travel on credit, it’s great for them to go abroad. It ex­poses the youth to dif­fer­ent cul­tures and is an im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment phase for young in­di­vid­u­als,” Katzwinkel adds.

“A FOMO Travel customer com­mits to pay­ing a cer­tain amount on a monthly ba­sis. As the in­stal­ments are paid in, the money is put in an es­crow ac­count, which is se­cure and au­dited. You lock in the hol­i­day to­day, and com­mit to the pay­ments over a pe­riod,” he says.

Katzwinkel adds that FOMO Travel ba­si­cally helps trav­ellers cre­ate an ad­vance pay­ment plan for a debt-free hol­i­day. When pay­ment has been made in full, FOMO Travel pays the sup­plier and is­sues doc­u­men­ta­tion.

He un­der­stands that some­times life gets in the way, so FOMO has le­nient can­cel­la­tion terms. “Un­for­tu­nately the de­posit is usu­ally non-re­fund­able, as we have to pay that over to the sup­plier in or­der to lock in the ac­com­mo­da­tion. But de­pend­ing on ad­vance no­tice, one can can­cel or change up to 12 weeks prior to de­par­ture.”

FOMO Travel was launched in Novem­ber 2016, af­ter a year of re­search and es­tab­lish­ing relationships with af­fil­i­ates in the in­dus­try, such as ho­tel groups, tour groups and other travel agents. The re­sponse, Katzwinkel says, was “over­whelm­ing” and the com­pany has had to scale fast.

In March, FOMO joined the Singer Group, form­ing a part­ner­ship with Em­bassy Travel and Amaz­ing Hol­i­days. Through this part­ner­ship, Katzwinkel says that FOMO can of­fer world-class ser­vice at com­pet­i­tive prices.

Katzwinkel says that 12,000 peo­ple have al­ready signed up to the ser­vice and FOMO Travel pro­cessed 100 book­ings in the first six months of busi­ness. (A book­ing could be a fam­ily or a group.)

In a mar­ket bur­dened with debt, FOMO Travel, a ser­vice that teaches peo­ple to save for lux­u­ries, is just the ticket.

Andrew Katzwinkel

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