Richard Dana, alongside business partner and fiancee Roxane Gergaud, launched Doris & Dicky at the end of last month.
Dana was previously head of cash and working capital at Thomas Cook Group, based at the travel giant’s London head office, but quit in November last year to begin work on the new project.
The pair have partnered with Expedia, which is providing technical support, while Brighton-based agency Wild Dog has designed the website. Wild Dog also works with the likes of Cox & Kings, Sunvil, Elegant Resorts and Neilson.
The pair said they launched Doris & Dicky to offer a “handpicked collection of the best budget boutique hotels around the world” following frustrations planning their own short-break holidays. The average cost per night is around £100.
Their target markets are 25-35 year olds, and empty nesters, who are able to travel more flexibly.
Co-founder Gergaud, who only last week left her marketing role at Phaidon Press, publisher of Wallpaper* City Guides, said: “It’s been a pipe dream for two years. We’ve just remortgaged our flat. If you don’t believe in it, then how can you expect others to believe too?
“We want to make planning a holiday fun and easy. Our site is fresh and simple to use. There’s a focus on weather too, and we aim to offer honest reviews of the properties.”
Dana added: “We have already had people asking about investment, but for me the driver is lifestyle. We want a lifestyle product, and it’s not just about setting up something just to sell.”
Despite launching just weeks ago, Dana said one unexpected result had been the business travel interest in its properties, and from the creative sectors in particular.
“It’s because of the cheaper hotel rate, plus the fact business travellers want to stay somewhere different, and not in a soulless hotel.”
Gergaud said to begin with there would be a focus on SEO, and collaboration with bloggers, to drive marketing, with brand partnerships also on the cards.
Doris & Dicky currently offers 400 boutique hotels, with plans to eventually rise to 1,000, and is targeting £650,000 in sales in its first year. The pair believe the website will be useful to agents as a research tool initially, with other plans to work with the trade in the pipeline.
Find out more: dorisanddicky.com