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July 26, 2014

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Technology:

New website connects wannabe travelers with funding source … and maybe some romance

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Sam Morris

Brandon Wade of Infostreamgroup on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.

Want to travel the world but don’t have enough money? Have a vacation planned but no one to go with?

A new online dating website launched by a Las Vegas-based entrepreneur is working to bring these two groups of people together to create some memories and maybe even a romantic connection.

MissTravel.com officially launched in April and has, according to its founder, attracted 40,000 users.

The website allows users to sign up for one of two groups: “Attractive” members are those looking to travel for free; “Generous” members are those “who hate to travel alone” and are willing to pay for someone to travel with them.

“Nothing like this has existed online,” said Brandon Wade, founder and CEO of InfoStream Group, the company behind misstravel.com. “There’s been a lot of dating websites but none that take travel and romance and mash them together into one. The concept is: Generosity goes a long way when dating.”

Wade, who was born in Singapore and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has launched several successful online dating sites over the last decade, including seekingarrangement.com, a “sugar daddy” website that has 1.2 million users, and whatsyourprice.com, a modern twist on the charity auction that allows users to bid for first dates with different members.

With tens of millions of people using online dating websites, finding a connection on large websites like eharmony.com or match.com can be difficult, Wade said, which has given rise to niche dating websites.

“Dating is a very superficial process. You can’t go to match.com and compete anymore. It’s such a huge market, the guys who do well are the ones who have the six-pack abs and look like Tom Cruise,” he said. “The question is: What can you do to stand out? And the answer is you go to a niche website. If you’re looking for people who love pets, there are websites for that. People who love Apple products, there’s a website dedicated to that.”

Wade said travel and romance have long been intertwined and that research has shown many people already travel to see people they’ve met through other online dating sites.

“People are already doing this. They’re doing it whether they met on match.com or somewhere else. We figured, why not focus on it?” Wade said. “Travel is a great way to filter out whether a person is a good match. ... When you’re traveling, you get to explore things. You get to discover what somebody really likes.”

Trips can range from a weekend road trip to an around-the-world adventure, Wade said.

“We don’t have a criteria on what attractive is. ... They come in all shapes and sizes, every single height, all types of skin color, different age groups,” Wade said.

The site also has strict anti-escort and anti-prostitution measures, Wade said. Every user account is reviewed before it is approved for the site, and users can flag accounts for removal if they act suspiciously or request up-front payment.

“We make it a point to frame misstravel.com where there’s no money exchanged between two people. The generous person pays for the trip, that’s it,” he said.

Wade and his team of 12 employees are currently working to grow misstravel.com, which has a backlog of accounts waiting to be approved, as well as expand his other websites to international markets.

“We’re definitely growing,” he said. “Despite the criticism we’ve gotten, everybody seems to agree that we’ve got an amazingly well-built website.”

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