Lola.com Referral Program: 25 to 50 Employees in 6 Months

Lola.com is a trip planning app that provides users with a virtual travel assistant. In 2016, Lola.com needed to make hires, fast. They turned to Drafted with some very specific goals in mind and a tight timeline. By working together Lola.com was able to revamp their referral program in just 6 month resulting in 10 hires, reducing time to hire by 50%, and saving an estimated $70,000 during the hiring process. Below is a recap of how Lola.com leveraged their referral program to make hires. You can read the full case study here.

Lola.com's hiring strategy

Lola.com is on the rise. Founded by former Kayak CTO, Paul English, Lola is revolutionizing the $150B offline travel industry. Lola makes it easy to plan trips using a handy mobile app with a direct line to travel experts. App users communicate with virtual travel assistants who can book every part of your trip: Hotels, flights, events... you name it.

Since its official launch in May 2016, Lola.com has doubled its workforce and built a team of 50 in Boston. Paul English knows how critical it is to hire the right team, whether for travel metasearch giant KAYAK or the newly minted Lola. “When you have great teams and great chemistry, you can do whatever your shared goal is,” says English.

As any team-builder knows, hiring a single great employee can take months. Lola.com had a big challenge ahead; they needed to find and hire 25 talented new employees in the competitive Boston hiring market. To hit their hiring goals did two key things: established the Lola.com referral program and hired a full time recruiter.

Image of lola.com Boston office
Lola.com's Boston Office

Establishing a referral program at Lola.com

If they wanted to build a business that would change travel again, Lola.com's founders and top managers knew that they needed to hire the best people. What’s more, they needed to scale two different teams simultaneously: product engineering and customer success.

So, the Lola.com team took a bold approach: They established a referral program to reward employees for introducing great people to their team. Then, they extended this referral reward to their entire network. Lola’com's leadership team understood that referrals come from outside their company so they used friends, family, investors, and customers to find top hires. Fun fact: referrals make up 40% of your workforce!

Key hiring strategy: the Lola.com referral network

Stacey Scott, VP Member Services, has built great teams for years and has a philosophy for hiring the best people. “My job is to make my team so wildly happy they want their families and friends to work here too,” Stacey explained. At Lola.com, she has built her team from 0 to 18 travel assistants by using employee and community referrals as a key hiring strategy.

Image of Lola.com's travel assistant team hired with the help of Drafted
Lola.com's Travel Assistant Team

When she started looking for her first travel assistant at Lola.com, Stacey searched everywhere. She posted ads on Craigslist and when she met a great customer service person, she offered them a role at Lola.com. Her VP Product introduced Stacey to her first hire, Rachel. Rachel helped Stacey grow her team and recruited a key product hire, Jeremy. Many of Stacey’s new travel assistants referred friends who joined the team.

“People are our biggest asset. We believe that everyone who makes us stronger should be rewarded. Plus, isn’t it nice that [employees] can help save the company money and bring in great people at the same time?” -Stacey, VP of Member Services at Lola.com

It turns out that the relatively small “signing bonus” was a competitive differentiator for her prospective employees, too. Who else made signing a job offer this fun?

Finding technical talent through referrals

Image of 10 people hired at Lola.com through referrals.
10 People Hired at Lola.com Using Referrals

In addition to travel assistants, Lola.com used Drafted to source and hire 4 software architects — a hiring spree that could easily cost a business $100,000 in contingency staffing fees. While several architects were referred externally from friends in Lola.com’s community, Software Architect Jeremy Debate, recruited two of his former engineering colleagues. Jeremy loved his teammates at Lola.com and wanted to contribute more than just his own expertise, “Everyone I worked with was an expert, and I wanted to draw from my network to add to that,” he said. Jeremy’s favorite part of having two close colleagues by his side:

“One of the most rewarding things is getting to work every day with a talented team, especially when that team includes people you have worked alongside for years.” - Jeremy, Software Architect at Lola.com

Lola.com reached a broader network to discover “hidden gem” candidates and get introduced to them through their referral program. Lola.com employees could contact referrals more effectively— and even speak to their strengths and weaknesses— because they had worked together in the past. It was almost like the Lola.com team had this secret army of advocates recruiting for them.

Referral programs open doors for recruiting top talent

When Tyler Avery-Miller joined Lola.com as their lead recruiter, he was given the task of hiring engineers and customer success managers (aka Travel Assistants) — fast. And while he had a robust list of technical talent in his network, engineering positions are still one of the hardest jobs to fill.

Tyler sourced talent through traditional channels like cold outreach and inbound interest but soon found that his response rate from passive candidates skyrocketed with Drafted. Tyler used Drafted to spot incredible candidates and ask his network for introductions. This way, friends of candidates who may not have responded to a cold InMail, reached out to make the initial introduction. Almost everyone responded.

“Often the best people are happily employed, so there’s a handful of people who are really talented who are being recruited all the time and aren’t actively looking. You may have an opportunity that could benefit their career, but they’re just not listening. An introduction changes that. It makes that connection to passive candidates, and gets people in for an interview who might never respond otherwise.” - Tyler, Lead Recruiter at Lola.com

Drafted was able to help Tyler get qualified candidates in the door and reduced Lola.com’s time to hire by over 50% for candidates sourced through Drafted. Lola.com used Drafted to hire 10 employees, including 4 software engineers, 4 Travel Assistants, 1 Technical Recruiter and 1 Product Specialist.

Using a referral program to double growth in 6 months

Lola.com used a referral program and a smart recruiting process to double their headcount to 50 employees in 6 months. By using Drafted and involving their internal and external referral networks Lola.com reduced hiring time by 50%, saved $70,000 in hiring costs and made critical hires that will help Lola change travel. Again.

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