Catching up with Daycation, the app that helps you spend the day at your favorite hotel pool

By Marcella McCarthy

If your favorite part of a hotel is the hotel pool with tasty drinks and fluid beats, then for those living in one of Daycation’s 25 cities, you can get the pool-day experience without having to spend the night - and for a fraction of the cost. Think of it as a way for locals to enjoy the fun things that usually only tourists can get their hands on.

Daycation, a Miami-based online marketplace, offers day passes to a number of hotel amenities around town - and the world. Think Miami, Mexico, the Bahamas, as well as places like Arizona, Atlanta and New York City. For example, if you live in Miami you can spend the day at the SLS South Beach pool for a starting price of $40/person (plus whatever you consume).

Matt Boney, CEO and co-founder of Daycation, launched the startup here in 2016. It’s since raised $400K, not a lot, but considering that Boney and his two other co-founders, Alex Novo (COO) and Mo Soussi (CTO), are scrappy and living simple lives, they’ve been able to follow the advice they’ve received: “Build a real business,” several people have told him. Daycation is looking to raise another round of $300K.

Matt Boney, CEO of Daycation

Now in their 5fth year, Boney is proud to say, “We’re an underfunded travel startup that’s been through the pandemic.” 

While the company was in the growth stage when COVID-19 hit, he said, “We got crushed in April, but now we’re back up to 70% of the booking volume we had this time last year.” A strong comeback, especially for a business in the hospitality industry.

How it works

Boney, an Idaho native who grew up working at a luxury hotel, noticed that the amenities often didn’t reach capacity, a money-grabbing opportunity for the properties if they could only figure out how to get the word out and sign people up to use the amenities for the day. From there came Boney’s idea for Daycation. The company charges a commission for each person it brings in - on average about 25% of the value of the day pass, though Boney said the deals with the hotels vary.

Changing trends have helped

The travel and hospitality industry virtually came to a halt last spring, but as peoples’ offices shut down, some started looking for other places to work that weren’t their homes. And in places like Miami, where you can be outdoors virtually year-round, Boney started seeing a blur between work and play.

“That leisure-work mix is becoming bigger,” he said. “People want to get out of their house and work somewhere for the day.” And for those who can concentrate by a hotel pool with an ocean breeze, a day pass might be just the way to go.

People traveling through Miami or other cities with decent weather have also uncovered another use case for Daycation, Boney said. An unexpectedly successful property for the company has been the Hilton Hotel at Miami International Airport. Layover clients use Daycation as a way to spend the day by the pool while they wait for their next flight out.

What’s ahead

In 2021, the team of 5 is simultaneously focused on bringing their sales volume back full force as well as expanding to other cities throughout the U.S. and the world.

Marcella McCarthy