Quite a lot of the startup pitches we cover on Tnooz stem from their founders' frustrations with a part of the travel booking process and EasyGroupBook is no exception.
This time it's not a millennial backpacker type problem but something which is more a boomer/Gen X concern, namely, getting a hotel room at a conference or event.
Maybe not the most exciting vertical, but on a global scale there are lots of events, lots of attendees and lots of overnight stays. The opportunities for someone to make the whole process more efficient are there.
A Q&A with co-founder Rajat Malhotra:
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
After years of dealing with booking hotel rooms, on our own, as attendees of events, conferences and conventions, we knew this was an avenue where we could provide effective solutions.
We decided to build a group management system that allows event/conference/convention organizers to offer lodging options using negotiated rates for their attendees on their website.
The entire booking process is online. this was the vision that led to the founding of www.EasyGroupBook.com
Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?
- Rajat Malhotra – Sales, Marketing and Operations
- Kapil Khanna – Product and Technology
- Frankie Sackey – Strategy & Process Management
- Shashi Sachdeva – Business Administration
- Wimpey Arora – Mentor
We are currently bootstrapped and are actively engaged with angel investors to raise a seed round.
Estimation of market size?
Competition?Passkey is the biggest player in the sector with a similar offering, apart from offline travel agents.
Revenue model and strategy for profitability?
The solution is free for the event/conference/convention organizer. We make money by earning a commission on every reservation.
What problem does the business solve?
We provide the best rates and ideal lodging options for event/conference/convention attendees. Event/conference/convention organizers can now offer lodging options as opposed to trying to manage it themselves. Typically, they shy away from this service as it involves a significant administrative burden.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
The idea of EGB was formulated around all the conferences and expositions that we personally attend every year, where we realised that there were few companies making an effort to assist delegates with quality accommodation near the venue.
As we dug deeper we saw the opportunity exists and has the potential to emerge globally across various verticals.
Why should people or companies use the business?
We are looking to partner with event/conference/convention organizers and ticketing companies, for them to offer their end users a value added service. A delegate attending an event in an alien city would find it challenging to find a quality product at a good price in the vicinity of the event, this is where we come in.
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
The current focus is to build partnerships with online event ticketing platforms to offer this as a value added service to their end customers.
In addition, we are reaching out to event/conference/convention organizers to educate them about our offering and the ease of engaging with us for their upcoming events.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
In three years we expect to be working in all primary geographies across the world.
Our biggest challenge will be how to raise awareness and build credibility among the event organizers as well as event attendees in the shortest possible timeframe. Once we accomplish this we expect to see a significant change in behaviour that will lead to assimilation and adoption.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that it requires a startup like yours to help it out?
Technology solution providers in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry have largely ignored the group business. This is what has created a tremendous opportunity for a startup like ours.
What other technology company (in or outside of travel) would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
Hubspot, their culture code is synonymous with our vision for EGB.
Which company would be the best fit to buy your startup?
We believe there is a huge business opportunity here to build a fairly large and profitable business. At this time, we are not looking for being acquired.
Describe your startup in three words?
(Group) bookings made easy
Here's a Vine giving a snapshot of how the business sees itself:
While easygroupbook is still in its infancy - it's only two months old - there remain more questions than answers about how successful the business will be.
The biggest headwind would appear to be getting the hotel supply at a rate which it can then sell on to give it sufficient commission.
It's a fiercely competitive market. Established players have longstanding relationships with hotels; event businesses have huge negotiating power; better-funded startups could also enter the fray and might have more cash to run the business at a loss to build traction.
Nonetheless, the sheer size of the market and the many and varied contexts in which a group booking can be made means that if easygroupbook finds a destination where it can get the hotel supply, or a new event that would like to partner with it, or another niche, then it could develop into a viable business.
We wish them well.