Originally published on Biz New Orleans in April 2016.
A new travel app is making its mark.
BY JENNIFER GIBSON SCHECTER
There are many options for booking travel excursions online, but a new app is rising above the competition for New Orleans-based trips. If you haven’t yet heard of the concierge app Joieful, pay attention.
Joieful LLC is an online booking software and hospitality management provider—basically, it’s an app you can download to your iOS or Android-run smartphone. You can also access it via their website at joieful.com.
Their technology creates a streamlined end-user experience. If you are a procrastinator but a planner, you can literally book your entire trip’s worth of activities while you wait to board your plane to New Orleans. Easily navigable categories include: Art, Attractions, City & Plantation, Deals, Dining, Events, Film, Music, New, Outdoor, Riverboat, Stage, Swamp, Top Picks, Transportation, VIP and Walking. With over 1,600 experiences to choose from, there is sure to be something new for a visitor to learn about or a local to add to their events calendar.
The founder and CEO of Joieful, Aaron Dirks, recognized three unmet needs in the marketplace and began Joieful in 2015.
“Hoteliers, cities, convention centers and visitors bureaus had not found a superior way to partner with a platform provider to enhance their guests’ pre-arrival, during-stay and post-stay engagement with off-property experiences,” he said. “Existing concierge and software providers are also not engaging the customers in meaningful and immersive connections. Finally, existing providers only focus on the visitor and ignore the massive opportunity to better connect visitors with locals, and locals with life experiences.”
Dirks identifies himself as a businessman who has “suffered and succeeded with the ‘entrepreneurial ailment’ all my life. It led me to start my first business of lawn care service in Baton Rouge while in high school. Since then I have had businesses in hospitality, engineering, financial services, medical devices, international logistics, commodities trading, energy, real estate and e-commerce. My direct experience in hospitality came in helping my wife’s global chauffeured transportation service, Limo Livery, headquartered in New Orleans.”
Dirks takes that wide-scope approach to his new venture and has grown a more traditional concierge service as well. Joieful is currently operating at concierge desks in area hotels, including the New Orleans Marriott, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Hilton St. Charles and Harrah’s Garage Tunnel. The app was also awarded a new contract with the Sheraton New Orleans desk and will begin serving there in the next few months. These placements expose Joieful to over 4,000 hotel rooms per day utilizing its fulfillment platform for on-site and pre-arrival bookings.
With 15 direct full-time employees, Joieful is poised to position itself in new markets beyond New Orleans over the next two years. They intend to grow into at least one new large destination market by the end of 2016 and into 10 new cities by the end of 2017. Joieful expects to be annualizing in excess of $100 million in platform sales by the end of 2017.
“Joieful is bringing together the best experiences available in New Orleans and privately-curated VIP experiences not available anywhere else. We also operate a 24-hour concierge text and chat service to help locals and visitors navigate the awesomeness of NOLA,” said Dirks. “It is Joieful’s goal to create a frictionless and immersive marketplace to better create, experience and share life.”