Travel Dibs: Entrepreneurial Couple Launches B&B, the First Crowdfunding B&B, Using Tech, Food, Hustle

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We all love to travel, especially as millennials. Millennials are one of the groups that travel the most. I mean why not? When you’re young and don’t have any dependents is usually when the urge to travel is at an all time high. Topdeck Travel, popular provider of group travel for 18-30 somethings, recently surveyed surveyed 31,000 people from 134 different countries. 88% of them traveled overseas between one and three times a year; 94% of them were between 18 and 30. Out of those surveyed, 30% traveled solo and the majority traveled in Europe, North America and Australia/New Zealand.

“Reflecting peer-influence at that young stage of life, in choosing where they travel next, 76 percent said that friends’ recommendations were a main factor, and what’s on sale, and social media also came far ahead of travel-agent advice (18%).”-Topdeck Travel

Let’s focus on the “what’s on sale” part of the above quote. Millennials love a great deal and when they can travel for less than the norm, they hop on that deal. Within these deals comes cheaper options when it comes to lodging. Hotels can be pricey, especially when you want to stay in one that is comfortable, clean, and offers room service. These type of hotels can start at about $90/per night. This why Bed & Breakfast (B&B) options are at an all time high. AirBnB has opened the door for more people to create B&B’s of their own. This is what one couple decided to do when deciding to go into business for themselves.

Chef Kalisa Martin and tech entrepreneur Jeff Belizair  left their lives as marketing executives in New York City and moved to Jamaica to open up a luxury B&B. Opening a B&B was a dream of theirs and a bad winter snow storm pushed them over the edge and motivated them to go for it.

Within 6 months of moving to Jamaica, they announced their B&B project on Kickstarter and pre-sold $46,000 of reservations and perks within 45 days. They used the funds to design, renovate and decorate the property and open in November 2015.

The Runaway Jamaica is the first successfully funded B&B in Kickstarter history. They are also launching a furniture collection and cookbook in the fall. The B&B is not just a home but a showcase of handcrafted, Jamaican products that highlight the island and the rich culture here. Their five pillars are Food, Design, Sustainability, Community, and Culture.

After coming across this couple’s story, I was very intrigued and immediately had to hit them up for a feature on the site, especially since my fiancé and I  love to travel and love to see where we can cut costs down when it comes to travel, especially luxury travel. Check out the interview below where the minds behind The Runway Jamaica chatted about their inspiration to start the B&B and their goals for the future of the business.

What inspired you to start The Runway Jamaica?

The last two winters in New York turned the city into a frozen wasteland of slush and salt. Enough was enough! Both of us had dreamed, even before we met each other, of opening up a spot in the Caribbean. During last year’s dreary winter, we escaped to Jamaica together and had two major epiphanies: No more cold winters EVER! It was time to pursue our dream of moving to the Caribbean.

What are your goals for the B&B for 2016-2017?

To introduce it to new markets and to publish a digital cookbook and video series.

What major accomplishments have you accomplished for the B&B so far?

We are completely sold out for 2016.

Do you plan to expand to other areas?

Yes, we’re looking at Africa, Asia and the United States. We hope to announce new locations next year.

When you guys are not working, what parts of the world do you like visit?

Since moving to Jamaica, we’ve vacationed in Dubai.

Where would you like to visit next?

Cuba, Sweden and Thailand are next on the list.

What advice do you have for millennial travelers when it comes to traveling on a budget but still experiencing that first class experience?

Avoid traditional booking site and leverage marketplaces like ‘Airbnb’ and ‘Love Home Swap.’

For those who are BIG on reviews, check out some the TripAdvisor reviews on The Runway Jamaica here. Also get to know the hosts. Check out Kalisa’s video hereCheck out Jeff’s video here.

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Naomi K. Bonman is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she holds her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Journalism. She also holds her Masters of Public Administration. She is the Founder and CEO of Awakened Media Enterprises, Inc. which owns Purposely Awakened. She has been in the media field since 2006 covering beats that range from social justice, community, entertainment, sports, fashion/beauty, and culture news.

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