When then-junior Davis Handler sat in the back of his economic development class and watched a classmate scour the internet for a cheap flight to Paris, he got stressed out.
Handler said there were too many tabs open with websites showing expensive prices for what should have been a more affordable trip. He talked with his peers about ways they pay for travel and noticed that most people were overpaying for their getaways.
The senior took his peers’ feedback and launched WeYalla, a website that sifts through airline and hotel companies’ prices to find the cheapest flights and hotels for college students. Handler said the website fills “a void in the market” for affordable travel by streamlining affordable travel options into one search engine.
“Traveling can open you in a way that cannot be done in any other fashion,” Handler said.
He said online travel agencies like Kayak or Skyscanner will only search for deals with airlines that each company already has a relationship with, which can rule out possibly cheaper bargains from other airlines. Handler’s search engine scans all deals, including more than 2,000 online travel agencies, he said.
The website also includes a “Talk to a Travel Agent” service in which a user can contact Handler, who is a licensed travel agent, to assist in booking flight over the phone or through email. Handler is currently working with a fraternity on campus to book flights and a hotel and develop itineraries for the 40 fraternity members, he said.
“The method that I’m using is solely based on the user finding the best price,” he said. That’s the inspiration and that’s the entire mission behind every single line of code that was written.”
After teaching himself HTML in middle school and honing his coding skills from Youtube tutorials, Handler wrote the code for the website. He also contracted with cyber-teams based in India and Bangladesh to secure the website and build graphics.
The name WeYalla – “yalla” meaning “let’s go” in Arabic – was partially inspired by Handler’s study abroad trip to Jordan during the fall 2018. He said he grew a passion for travel after his study abroad trip and excursions to six different continents in his lifetime.
“There is something about travel that is almost metaphysical for me,” Handler said. “Jordan is one of those places for me that’s always gonna have a special place in my heart, it inspired me to do this because I think people should experience the world.”
Handler says the website is the first part of a project to develop technology that helps smaller groups find the best travel options.
“The sweet spot is finding that perfect mix of great customer service and impeccable technology, and I don’t think that really exists right now when it comes to group travel,” Handler said.