Native on-line travel firm sees massive alternative in tiny journeys

Emily Bernard and Ethan Hawkes set up PlacePass, an e-commerce business offering experience, in 2016. After a rapid transition – in just a few years, they managed to become 30 reserve employees in more than 100,000 locations worldwide. – Bernard and Hawkes began to rethink their approach.

“We have always believed in the need for survival as a means to rehabilitate, to become a better, more complete human being,” said Hawkes (who, because of this history, knows that his name is very similar to someone else’s name). “We all went on long journeys, but we realized after many discussions that there were many interesting experiences to be found near our home.”

They hope, in other words, to get their customers to think seriously about the best use of their time. The content is, after all, limited.

So he set up a second company – a retail business, in fact – to consider what he came to call “little trips.” Bernard & Hawkes are able to chase down adventures and overnight trips for people who want to deal with modern adversity, in order to have a better life.

Then the plague struck.

By 2020, Mr. Hawkes says, “I think everyone in the industry thought it could be a much bigger year than anything else. The economy has continued to deteriorate over the past decade.”

After the closure, PlacePass raised more than $ 1 million in a single week’s return.

“That wasn’t part of our prediction,” Hawkes says.

It was a time for meditation. Fortunately, funders had already begun to do so.

On their website they started offering tips on how to make the most of the “escape”, “even if people are not comfortable walking around right now,” says Bernard, who once gave a presentation on Globe’s Food. “We explain to you how to use your time wisely.”

They are writing a series of articles on how to regain your energy and motivation – not just a list of fun and winter survival strategies, but also digital remedies and events designed to release your endorphins. As it turned out, the Hawkes had just published “The Book on Time,” a masterfully crafted book with a table they called “the book of their owners” for living a life of unconsciousness.

Hawkes grew up in Woodstock, Vt., And now lives with his wife, Caitlynn, and their son, just south of Maine. Bernard, a Chicago native, came to Boston to study at Harvard University (where he lived with Hawkes ’future wife). After graduating, he lived for a while in Washington, DC, but decided that New England and his place would be his aunt and uncle cooking lobster at his home in Somerville.

The outdoors was “very beautiful,” said Bernard, “and I thought, ‘Why do you want to be somewhere else?’ “He and the Hawkes are hoping to tackle the experience in another part of the country and in other areas, but for now they are putting business behind them.

As a business partner, Bernard is a new parent. They say that their children have given the teacher an opportunity to receive a home.

“I’m restoring our community through their eyes,” Hawkes said. “We’re going to parks that we probably haven’t been to before, or a walk all night. All of this is new to the baby. And this is an important lesson, even for those who do not have children.

As the virus progresses, the mobile phone industry is on the decline. One of PlacePass’s major accounts is owned by Marriott, which has just laid off half of its staff at Copley Place.

The founders of Bernard & Hawkes are hoping to use their leisure time to test themselves as well-thought-out travelers.

“COVID really led us back to the mission,” Hawkes said. They expect the idea of ​​”Small Trips” to begin, like the idea of ​​eating or your shopping.

“We want to be a team,” he says. “It’s not like we’re making something new, but there’s a chance to learn more.”

James Sullivan can be found at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @sullivanjames.

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