Doni Schwartz founded this unique system with Brandyss Katz and Daniel Kramer, and we had the special opportunity to speak with him about how people search for Pesach (Passover) programs and why it's important to do research before choosing one.
"We created this platform to really foster more transparency and visibility to the users", Schwartz explains.
Users of the site and Facebook group can read tens of hundreds of reviews across 150 Pesach programs, to review many aspects of the vacation program - food, programming, religious elements of the program, the hotel, and even the people who run the program.
"If we had had this site 17 years ago some of the fiascoes that have happened throughout the years probably would not have occurred again", Schwartz says, relating to incidents during the past years when programs were cancelled or clients were disappointed, "or at least people would've been warned about it or known about them ahead of time."
The multi-million-dollar industry of Pessach
As we speak with Doni, it's important to understand that Passover programs are a multi-million-dollar industry.
"People are looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars, we want to make it easy. There's not really one place out there where someone can go and see all the prices in one place, can see all the programs in one location and can see all the reviews and all the ratings, and look at how they're rated and why they're rated that based on reviews."
"There's not really one place and that's why we created this, to give someone spending thousands of dollars on Pesach, a tool to a research tool to give them the insight before spending all this money."
Searching vacations and hotels online, many people are rightfully skeptical of reviews that are find on the web, but this is a third-party website where potential customers and users can trust the validity and reliability of these prior guest reviews.
A powerful tool for program owners
Passover Listings doesn't just help those looking for the perfect program, though. It also helps program owners.
The system enables program owners to have visibility and transparency and provide as much information as they can so users can contact them and send inquiries.
"When you send an inquiry through our platform", Schwartz explains "it goes directly to the program owner and that inquiry has been written after you've already read reviews, saw the price, the pictures & even a video, and read the descriptions".
"It helps the program owner not have to go through all these hundreds of questions with that customer."
The system offers customer reviews of Passover resorts, while offering program owners the option to promote their resorts. With 30 or 40 possible filters, it takes less than a minute to narrow your search down to something manageable that meets all your criteria" price, location, sector, weather, highest rating, most reviews, and more.
"The biggest feedback from customers around the world is, 'It's so easy, my grandmother can do it,'" Schwartz laughs.
Program owners appreciate the service
Alyson Feldman, of New York based FFH Events said: “We decided to list our program because we enjoyed the Facebook group so much. We like to read all the different feedback on programs to see what guests are happy and not so happy with.
We are very impressed with the knowledgeable sales team. We can tell they know the industry and it’s not just another ad in a travel section.”
Ben Camille at Upscale Getaways added: “We saw the potential of Passover Listings and the hole that they are filling in the industry. We wanted to partner with them to guarantee our online influence would be tops in the industry.”
The Facebook page just keeps on growing
According to Schwartz, just two years after it was created, the "Passover Program Reviews" group has "the largest Pesach-targeted presence on social media today" and numbers close to 3900-4000 people, with a waiting list of many people who would like to join the group.
The best thing about the group is that there's always someone who can offer information about a given program. "At least one person" in the group "has been on every single program all around the world, at least once," Schwartz says.
Connecting to thousands of passover vacationers
Doni concludes our interview sharing his feelings being part of this unique initiative: "We’re very excited and humbled that thousands of people feel that this site has really made their decision much easier and quicker when choosing a pesach vacation".
"There is a special merit to all of us who started this site, knowing that we can help so many people all around the world enjoy the wonderful experiences of pesach and connect new people with one another around the world. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this wonderful experience."