$950 for a French Alps trip? We speak to the man behind Singapore's 'first social travel website' to find out if there's a catch

$950 for a French Alps trip? We speak to the man behind Singapore's 'first social travel website' to find out if there's a catch
Larry (left) with his friends on a ski trip.
PHOTO: Larry Lee

Going overseas with loved ones can make or break relationships. But what about heading on vacation with a group of like-minded strangers?

Sotravel, which says it is Singapore's first social travel website, is officially launching on Dec 11, and one of its first trips is a seven-day French Alps ski holiday that will set you back $950.

Before you start packing your suitcase, do note that the package price does not include flight tickets or travel insurance. You'll also need to be between the ages of 18 and 30 to go on the trip, which is confirmed for April 22 to 29 next year.

The group size for this trip is 50 pax, so you can expect to make quite a few new friends. 

The package, which Sotravel says is "probably the cheapest all-inclusive ski trip out there", does, however, include the essentials such as accommodation, meals, ski equipment, ski passes, ski lessons and two-way airport transfer. 

In comparison, a ski trip (also sans flights) costs upwards of $2,000 at popular travel operator Club Med.

But is there a catch? Sotravel founder Larry Lee tells AsiaOne that there's no trickery — it's just that Sotravel is not focused on maximising profits. 

"Instead, we aim to run at break-even and pass on bulk of our cost savings to customers.

"I would say it's almost like a friend helping to organise a ski trip for 50 other friends."

That being said, Sotravel remains "financially feasible to run" thanks to bulk discounts from its vendors, Larry explains. 

If you're sold, you can sign up by joining its Telegram group. And if you're above 30, check out Sotravel's other French Alps trip which has a slightly higher age limit. 

Social travel? What's that?

Travelling with friends or in a tour group isn't anything new, but Larry tells us that his website aims to introduce more social elements to the mix. For instance, users will be able to view the demographics of the people going on the trip, chat with fellow travellers, and enjoy discounts if they invite friends to join them on the trip. 

The 25-year-old, who recently graduated from Nanyang Technological University's Renaissance Engineering Programme, shares that he was inspired to start Sotravel after his own overseas sojourn. 

"When Covid-19 happened and isolation began, I was initially unfazed. As an introvert, I thought I was definitely fine with being alone.

"But after a year of remote working and studying, I definitely felt that something huge was missing in my life and I wasn't as happy as I used to be."


Fortunately, a ski trip organised by Imperial College Singapore Society during Larry's overseas exchange stint was an opportunity for him to get out and meet some new people. 

When he couldn't find similar trips locally, he decided to take it upon himself to start Sotravel and enable other Singaporeans to have the same experience, he says. 

"Even though Covid-19 is almost over, I noticed that with continuous digitalisation like Zoom meetings, there will be fewer and fewer opportunities for people to socialise in person.

"Hence, another goal I have is to use travel as a tool to provide more real-life friend-making opportunities for Singaporeans."

The response so far has been encouraging, says Larry. The ski trip has about 40 sign-ups, and Sotravel's Telegram group has grown to nearly 200 members in just a few days. 

Larry admits that planning a trip on this scale is challenging — Sotravel only has a headcount of two, him included. And this isn't even his full-time job. The fresh graduate tells us he will be starting work as a software engineer at a tech company. However, he says that organising such trips is "incredibly rewarding".

From shredding slopes to catching waves

If cold weather isn't your thing, stay tuned for Sotravel's other trips. 

Larry says there are two Bali surf trips planned next year, one from May 24 to 29 and another from Aug 8 to 13. 

A climbing trip to Krabi is also in the works, and more trips will be added based on demand. 


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