Last-minute hotel booking player HotelQuickly has raised a $4.5 million Series A-1 round led by GREE, Inc.
William E. Heinecke, CEO and chairman of Thailand-based Minor International, also participated in the round.
The company raised about $1.2 million in August 2013, taking the total fund raised till date to $6.2 million (including a $500K seed round). HotelQuickly admits it is yet to turn a profit.
HotelQuickly (TLabs here) is planning to use the new fund to accelerate product development, marketing, and hiring to drive sales across Asia-Pacific.
In June 2014, GREE launched its own Japan-focused last-minute booking service called "Tonight" - targeting the Japanese domestic traveler. The app lists only properties in Japan and is available in Japanese only.
Following the investment, GREE and HotelQuickly will enhance their respective services through personnel exchange, sharing of technical expertise, and "other collaboration".
When COO Christian Mischler was asked about the company's plan to launch in Japan:
"Certainly not at this point. We will work closely with GREE on improving their product, at the same time we can learn a lot from GREE's expertise in mobile gaming (mobile, business intelligence, internationalization, localization, product development)."
Likewise if GREE will launch in HotelQuickly's markets, Mischler says:
"GREE will focus on the Japanese market and make sure the product meets the local requirements. GREE has a very good understanding of their home market, and the model of mobile last-minute hotel booking needs refinement to meet the local taste and expectations."
Board Member at GREE, Eiji Araki, says:
"HotelQuickly has expanded at a phenomenal pace this past year to emerge as the clear leader in last-minute bookings in Asia-Pacific with more than 3,000 partner hotels and 100 destinations. Our two companies share a mobile-first approach, so this partnership is a natural fit. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together."
HotelQuickly was launched in March 2013 by five co-founders - Tomas Laboutka (CEO), Raphael Cohen (CSO), Christian Mischler (COO), Michal Juhas (CTO) and Mario Peng (CFO).
Currently, the company has over than 150,000 registered users and 300,000 app downloads (collectively across all platforms - Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry). It is available in 12 markets (and covers over 100 destinations) including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Currently, the company has 29 full-time employees. But, in the next six months the company has plans to increase the figure to more than 50.
Q&A with Mischler below:
About your growth so far?
We are constantly adding more destinations to the app; thanks to a user activity heat-map it is relatively easy for us to draw conclusions where we should fill white spots and where to focus our energy on.
Also, we managed to get a lot of renown brands on board. This pulls in other hotel brands that are actively reaching out to us with a request to become part of HotelQuickly in order to sell their distressed inventory to our member base.
What are the other areas of collaboration between HotelQuickly and GREE?
There will be a lot of experience exchange going on between the two companies. We are in very different stages, and I believe both parties can profit an equal share of each others experience.
We have a very good understanding of the hospitality industry in Southern Asia and Pacific, GREE only just started to tap into this market via its venture arm.
In return, GREE has world-class talent and a vast experience in how to scale a company very quickly and how to become a globally dominant player.
HotelQuickly has 300K app downloads, but why only 150K registered users?
When we first launched, we didn’t require a login to browse our hotel listings. Mainly due to false accusations by OTAs and to protect our hotel partners we implemented a forced sign-up process. This shields off the random visitor, and it gives us an opportunity to better understand our users and therefore tailor our product to make it more useful.
How many bookings are made in a day?
Cannot disclose. We’re growing on an average of 50-100% month-on-month with regards to bookings.
What are the other markets you will be launching in near future?
We will put a lot of emphasis on adding more domestic destinations to the already covered markets. The product has to become THE best app for last-minute traveling in every aspect, and inventory of course forms a very big part of this.
Whenever in need, a traveler should be able to find a great hotel at a great price in close vicinity. There will be more countries following, but this is not our number 1 priority at the moment.
Why do you think the global players like HotelTonight still doesn't have an active APAC presence?
In general, keep in mind that we also don’t have a European or a North American presence. Focus is important in order to build a superior product. Localization is most important in our industry. This isn’t anything that can be done overnight.
Plan for next 12 months?
Hire top talents. Combine the raised capital with their capabilities and continue to push at the forefront of travel tech.