Out There ensures you have plans for the weekend

Lifestyle and marketing platform Out There is aiming to ensure that the world stays busy

Out There ensures you have plans for the weekend

Organising activities for the weekend can be a struggle for full-time workers. As their weeks flash by in a haze of deadlines, meetings and workouts, they can be forgiven for finding themselves with nothing to do once Saturday comes knocking. Fortunately, lifestyle and marketing platform Out There is doing its bit to simplify the planning process.

The brainchild of husband and wife team David and Nicola Palmer, Out There doubles up as an activity-finding service for the general public and a marketing tool for local leisure companies. Customers can either sign up for newsletters on events, places and services in their area or simply peruse Out There’s website, scanning the pages for things to do. Either way, advertisers benefit from the permission-based marketing approach as they can be certain their audience actually wants to see their advertising.

But while Out There might sound like a credible business model, its future as an enterprise wasn’t always set in stone. “It was never our plan to start a business,” says Nicola Palmer. “It evolved by itself.”

Out There’s origins can be traced back almost a decade to when the couple began renting out their holiday home on Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands. “We quickly discovered that we were quite good at renting out our home,” says Palmer.

It wasn’t long before neighbours and friends began asking the couple to rent out their holiday homes too – not just in Spain but across the globe. And this is what sparked the Palmers’ first venture: Perfect Getaways.”Launched in 2007, the company specialised in renting out properties to travellers who were weary of hotels and would rather opt for a home-away-from-home experience.

As the company grew, Perfect Getaways took up an increasing amount of the couple’s time. Palmer soon chose to forgo her financial services job in order to work on the startup full-time. “And then David was offered a redundancy on a really good plan,” she explains. “So he took the deal and started working for the business full-time a couple of years after I did.”

Having established Perfect Getaways, the Palmers decided to launch a second venture in 2013: My Travel Pal. The platform, an early version of what eventually became Out There, catered to travellers looking for things to do whilst on vacation in Europe. “When you rent private holiday accommodation, you don’t have a concierge advising you on the best places to eat or where the nearest golf course is,” explains Palmer. And that’s exactly what the Palmers’ new platform set out to solve.””It is like travelling with a pal who tells you about all the best things to do,” she adds.

As Palmer explains, there were some very sound reasons why My Travel Pal was launched on the continent and not in Britain. “We avoided the UK market at the time because we felt that competitors like Groupon had filled the market already,” she says.

However, launching My Travel Pal in Europe proved trickier than expected. “We quickly realised that Europe was a very difficult market for us to get into because it required us to sell our product on a face-to-face basis,” explains Palmer.”Opting out of constant business trips, the Palmers decided to bring My Travel Pal back home to Blighty where another surprise was waiting for them. Instead of travellers looking for new and exciting things to do whilst on vacation, the marketing platform’s main UK audience turned out to be locals searching for things to do on their days off. “We didn’t expect that,” confesses Palmer.

Adjusting to the revelation, the Palmers reimagined and relaunched My Travel Pal as Out There in 2015. They also opted for a slightly different growth strategy, solving a problem from their days in Europe in the process.””We decided to franchise so that franchisees could go and do the face-to-face meetings,” Palmer explains. Franchising also meant that the couple avoided giving away huge chunks of their company to investors and saved them having to employ people across the country themselves.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson