Up, Up, and to the Right: Away

Marco Marandiz
4 min readAug 23, 2019

Away is owning the door-to-door travel experience, not the destination.

👩‍✈️At this time, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position as we prepare for takeoff. We’ll be flying through @Away’s content, product, messaging, and brand positioning.🛄🛫

The desire to see the world is as old as time. But our ability to see it, relative to human history, has only emerged in the last few moments. Away isn’t about cheap hotels or convenient cabs.

They’re about doing the whole thing in style and making it seem effortless — not only to your friends, but to yourself.

Instagram was made for Away’s product lines. It’s easily consumable and aspirational content. Showcasing both the destinations and the way you get there.

This has been a major challenge for brands in the travel space.

@Airbnb and @HomeAway @Vrbo create a bunch of content and technology solutions around destinations and activities, though UGC and partner content don’t easily fit into a coherent system that can be consumed easily.

On the surface, Airbnb Experiences appear to be creating a moat for new travel brands, but will continue to require a lot of investment before they displace TripAdvisor and the like in the top search results for “things to do in [city]”.

I did some research on this during my time at HomeAway — I may share more on this in the future.

The quick & dirty: financially, it’s an organizational distraction, but it deepens their relationship with customers.

All this to say @Away doesn’t have these issues. They thrive in the spaces between your front door and your hotel. The most unloved space in travel is this one — the space between beds.

Currently, if you want to enjoy traveling, it’ll be first class flights at >$1000 per leg.

In this unserved space, Away can get busy. They would be completely within their allowances to open airport lounges, sell travel insurance, provide in flight goody bags, etc. They’re already looking for a Head of CPG/Wellness.

Yes. Wellness.

Cross timezone travel is a draining experience that humans did not evolve for. Any products/partnerships that Away can put in place to ease or prevent the fatigue of this part of the journey would be huge for the brand.

Now, onto Away’s site.

The hero banner and title is telling much of the story — a millennial posse dressed like they’re going on a shopping expedition on Beverly Drive, getting out of a retro jeep w/ stacked Away luggage in the back, going… who knows where. It doesn’t matter.

This is fascinating because, even though I — nor anyone I know — identifies as the people pictured here, the story being told is so aspirational it lets customers take what they want from it and apply it to their own lives.

For example:

✅ the jeep would be fun

✅ the suitcases are required — why not buy them from Away?

❌ Now I’m not gonna travel to the Serengeti in a trench coat, but it’s okay to dismiss that and aspire for the rest.

The story transcends practical reality, making it aspirational without being impersonal.

Quick point about their product navigation. It’s clean and simple, while providing a place to showcase their featured product. You can easily go to any of their product lines pages, while @Away is still highlighting their Weekender bag.

Consistency in your storytelling is important. Away knows that.

“Build your uniform” panels are on both the luggage and bags page, promoting this lifestyle identity level messaging.

Away continues with the same messaging in the in cart upsell.

On all their “shop” pages (luggage, bags, interior organizers) Away has really intuitive color pickers, so you can check out product lines and styles before going to the individual product pages.

I’m a big fan of product personalization as a relationship builder for brands.

Simple UX — single page, very low friction, and a lot of fun to play around with all the combinations of placement, font style, color ways etc.

This story was originally written on Twitter.