Gomingo launched in March with the aim of bringing down commission rates for hotels and other accommodation providers. The startup is offering 0% commission to hotels that sign up initially with a promise that they will only reach a maximum of 15% going forward.
The startup offers hotels, villas and apartments to consumers online while services for property owners and operators include content management, channel management and property management. It wants to bring the same flexibility and rate control to independents and small chains that rental hosts have.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Gomingo is an online accommodation marketplace founded in London with the simple idea of providing a clean, easy-to-use, low-commission platform that increases revenue for accommodation providers while lowering booking prices for the guest.
Our aim is to create a global, trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover and book accommodation that encompasses personalization and social profiling.
Hoteliers and other property owners will select a simple pre-set offer to appear on Gomingo’s homepage; hosts will not be asked for greater commission for front-page visibility and will be in complete control of their rates, offers and content including imagery.
Gomingo lists all property types including hotels, villas, apartments and alternative accommodations such as castles and tents.
Our technology gives the advantage to hosts of being in complete control of their rates, availability and listing content through our built-in CMS and PMS systems. Once they have uploaded their listing information, including their content and imagery, they can make their accommodation live on Gomingo.com at the click of a button.
Furthermore, our in-built messaging system allows hosts to stay in contact with their guests throughout the booking process. We work on a prepaid booking model with three universal rate policies, meaning hosts only get confirmed bookings through our platform with no voids.
What inspired you to create this company?
Hotels need a marketplace that encompasses the elements of the sharing economy’s personalization and social profiling with an easy-to-use, low-commission platform.
Gomingo wants to bridge the gap between the larger OTAs and the sharing economy, giving hoteliers and independents the social profiling they need to stand out as a professional and trusted host, teamed with an easy-to-use extranet, so they are in complete control of their inventory and rates.
We are not exclusively a sharing economy, neither are we exclusively a hotel site; we are an accommodation community. We see the key advantages that the sharing economy brings to a host, in terms of rate control as well as inventory and social profiling; these aspects have been included in the building of our technology.
We want to conjoin the flexibility and control that the sharing economy offers hosts to small hoteliers and independent chains, who are left out of any real advantage because of the commission they are charged by the larger OTAs.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: An easy-to-use host portal gives hosts complete control of their content. For guests, unique search features combined with a clean layout and transparent, low-cost pricing make it easy to be inspired, search and book travel. The platform is agnostic to property type so we list hotels, villas, apartments, bed and breakfasts and alternative and unique accommodation such as sleeping pods, castles and tents.
- Weaknesses: At this stage, the main weakness is the lack of channel manager connectivity, but this integration is in our roadmap pipeline by the end of the year.
- Opportunities: Gomingo wishes to differentiate itself by the diversity of properties it offers and in being a platform that allows travelers to be inspired, for example by the new three-step booking feature. This is one example of our plans in wanting to provide travelers, including millennials and those from Generation X, with inspiration to create an experience and not just be another transactional portal.
- Threats: It is well known that the travel market overall is competitive, so this remains a threat, however our drive and clear understanding of what we want to offer travelers, via an end-to-end experience-based approach differentiates Gomingo from the crowd.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
From an industry perspective, we want to create fairness and lower rates for hosts; this is the essence of the "sharing economy."
Gomingo has particular appeal to independent hotels and small chains that distribute through larger OTAs and GDSs since we offer a more attractive commission structure.
Gomingo is currently charging all of its hosts 0% (introductory) commission for all bookings taken on the platform, with a guarantee that commission will never exceed 15%.
In addition, small hoteliers benefit further from the platform’s in-house CMS and PMS, which enables them to better manage their bookings without the tools provided with a channel manager. Not only can they earn more with a lower commission but they can more efficiently manage all bookings that go through the platform.
On the consumer side, the user experience is our biggest concern, and we have therefore designed Gomingo to be a clean, friendly environment with no urgency marketing, a practice often used by other OTAs.
Gomingo is an ethical business and actively wishes to avoid some of the many strategies that some of our competitors have adopted including preferential listing.
Functionality of the platform is key, and on Gomingo.com, consumers can easily navigate through travel experiences and recommendations. Our experience search function enables customers to create a basic filtered search extremely quickly (by experience type, geographic region and accommodation type) on our homepage.
They can either utilize this function or expand onto a search page where further filters are available. This enables the guest to get to their specific accommodation results a lot faster than the traditional method of inputting a location and dates of availability; note the latter will still be available to cater for guests who wish to use this traditional form of search.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We will be utilizing social media and display advertising on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as a key component of our wider marketing strategy to engage and build trust with the emerging travel markets to grow our marketplace and community.
In addition, we promote our own original travel content, popular destinations and specific accommodation, customized to only show guests through re-targeting what we know they’re interested in. We will be holding monthly accommodation giveaway competitions, as well as tried and tested email marketing practices to secure bookings from our engaged users.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We’ve analyzed the marketplace, reviewed the competitive set and found the stress points that both the hosts and guests experience in this space, and then capitalized on the opportunity to create a travel platform that does things better and ultimately fairer and more ethically.
We started by discussing and contracting hoteliers who really believed in and saw the benefit in what we are trying to do in disrupting the marketplace, and they have reciprocated and shown their support by listing with us.
Furthermore, we have built momentum through our brand "tone of voice" and content strategy and have begun to see some results and ultimate growth of our inventory.
How and when will you make money?
Gomingo has a simple and transparent business and commercial model by charging hosts a maximum of 15% for all bookings that pass through the platform; in addition, when our experience-based integration is in place, revenue will also be earned from these ancillary services that are booked on the platform.
So whilst during the launch period (with a 0% commission), the business will not immediately earn revenue, the business plan envisages it to be fully funded through to break even.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
Gomingo has a small, highly motivated team led by co-founder and head of business Sanjay Patel.
Patel is an accountant with many years of experience in senior board level positions, including chief financial officer and financial director, within small, fast-growing technology, services and creative businesses.
Over the course of his career he has gained experience in setting up, scaling and growing SMEs across several territories for different sectors such as finance, HR and legal.
Nerijus Mikolaitis, co-founder, studied tourism at business school before spending 12 years as a senior executive in an independent travel business before he started his first company specializing in villa rentals.
He brings strong management and customer relations experience to the Gomingo team along with leadership skills in the hospitality, travel and technology industries.
What makes Gomingo different?
We are a people business at heart and have a skilled, young, dynamic growing team.
Our staff and the culture have been carefully nurtured and is a key part of Gomingo’s DNA; in many ways through hard work and determination this has propelled the business to where it is now.
Each of our staff is encouraged and empowered to think outside of the box and think of what is possible … and not what is not possible. In this way the power of innovation is at the core of our business.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Like every startup the road can be bumpy, and ours has been no different. Our biggest challenge was dealing with growing pains.
As the needs and scale of the business expands, roles ultimately change and there is the need to adapt. This is a necessary feature of rapid growth.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
We aren’t afraid to be different, and we have the advantage of building a community alongside our tech development, meaning we can respond to the new age of travelers and accommodate their needs and keep up-to-date with a fast-evolving marketplace.
We’re here to make travel fair and transparent and are confident with our market’s initial response and feedback.
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