Booking a holiday is a big expense, but as any traveler knows, it’s impossible to judge a hotel from an online description. Can the bartender mix a good martini? How comfortable is the bed? Often, you don’t know until you’re actually lying in it.
The global travel club Mr & Mrs Smith was created to solve this problem. Since 2002, the UK-based company has been providing carefully curated hotel recommendations for discerning travelers, eliminating the guesswork from holiday planning. Its two million members make 3,000 bookings a month at more than 1,700 of the world’s best boutique hotels.
Goodbye to bad hotels
The company was born from the founders’ own stays at lackluster hotels. One trip in particular sent them over the edge. In the fall of 2002, they arrived at what they thought would be a luxurious spa hotel outside London, only to find themselves in a spartan retreat that weighed them as soon as they arrived, served no alcohol, and only offered a calorie-controlled menu.
“We snuck out like naughty school children, went to the pub, and over a pie and a pint we said, ‘enough is enough,’” recalled Lohan.
During that meal they brainstormed a list of characteristics travel lovers want in a hotel: a warm welcome, the right style-notes, a true sense of place. They decided on the spot to publish a guidebook listing the UK’s best boutique hotels. Since then, the company has grown into a full-service website and a household name among hotel aficionados around the world.
The name Mr & Mrs Smith refers to the alias used in decades past by unmarried couples who traveled together illicitly.
By partnering with Stripe, Mr & Mrs Smith has brought ease and efficiency to the hotel booking process. Lohan notes that Stripe’s user-friendly interface pairs well with the company’s sleek website.
“When Stripe came along, the APIs and documentation were like a breath of fresh air for our tech team,” she said.
Stripe’s range of local payment methods has made it easy for Mr & Mrs Smith to expand into new markets and realize additional revenue—adding more than 400 hotels to its collection this year. The company also uses Stripe Radar to block fraudulent transactions. And when travel was put on indefinite hold during the pandemic, Stripe helped absorb the impact.
“It would have been easy for Stripe to have said, ‘You’re a travel company, you’re super risky, we’re going to be hard on you,’” Lohan said. “Instead, our account manager took time to understand our business, understand our position, and understand what we were trying to do about it—Stripe stood by us. That built lasting trust and loyalty.”