If you've ever visited a hotel's website but ended up booking via a third-party like Booking.com, you haven't been properly marketed to, says Hotelchamp.
The Dutch startup with 19 full-time employees aims to provide hotels with the B2B tools they need to convert website visits into direct bookings.
Hotelchamp has already succeeded in signing up a number of European clients, such Bilderberg Hotels, Sandton Hotels, and Corinthia Hotels. The company also has clients in the United States, Australia, and Asia.
Incorporated in April 2015, it is currently in the midst raising an investment round. Here is a one-minute pitch from CEO Kristian Valk:
Here's a brief Q&A with CEO Valk:
What problem does your business solve?
Hoteliers face substantial challenges due to their increasing dependence towards online travel agencies, who are dominating the online market for hotel bookings. The urgency to obtain a healthier balance between direct and third-party bookings is clear.
Hotelchamp has developed intelligent software to convince people to make a direct booking on hotels’ websites. With the implementation of a single line of code our tools can easily be added to every existing, or new hotel website throughout the world.
Consequently, Hotelchamp's mission is to help hotels increase their profitability, customer engagement as well as reducing their dependency on third parties by providing them the tools and knowledge to fairly compete online.
Founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?
The founders and their roles: Kristian Valk - CEO; Kasper Middelkoop - CMO.
Both have an entrepreneurial e-commerce and online marketing background. HotelChamp currently employs 25 people.
Currently, founders and angel investors have secured initial funding. However, we are working on a larger round to scale internationally; this round will probably surpass the region of Euro 1 million.
SaaS model with an average fixed fee of Euro 300 a month. On average, our customers receive an ROI of three-to-five times their monthly investment, allowing them to invest in other areas and improve services.
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
Increasing direct bookings is one of the hottest topics in the hotel industry for 2016.
Hotels want to improve customer engagement and lower their third party commissions. The solution for this goal is improving their direct channel.
It helps them to restore direct contact with their guests rather than the OTAs who have largely taken over the customer service process from the hotels.
We already succeeded to sign major clients in our domestic market (the Netherlands) and in Europe including Bilderberg Hotels, Sandton Hotels and Corinthia Hotels.
Also: Hotels from other continents are already applying for our software such as; Australia, Asia, Middle East and the United States.
Thanks to its easy implementation our software is already integrated in many booking engines such as Synxis, Travelclick, Cubilis and BookingSuite.
Hotelchamp's digital marketing tools strive to engage visitors while visiting a hotel's own site and persuade them to book direct.
It's approximately the equivalent of the marketing savvy that companies like Booking.com deploy with pop-up messages such as 'there are only so many places available ' or '3 other people are looking at this property right now' or 'this property has been rate more positively than most hotels in its area".
Hotelchamp's core tools are impressive. It appears simple to customize and personalize marketing notifications by particular demographic. Its A/B testing tools seem straightforward enough for non-techies to use.
Yet properties may have to experiment to see how much the service shifts the distribution mix for them.
Many hotels believe that their profitability is under pressure due to third-party distribution filling so many of their rooms, though they could close the taps to such distribution at any time. Hotelchamp may need to offer advice on how and why to use its services, not just provide tools.
While it's true that hotels can hardly build a bond with their own customers when they don't have a direct marketing relationship, on the other hand how many hotel guests are repeat visitors. The industry debate over distribution is ongoing, but Hotelchamp's tools may help level the digital marketing field for properties whose managers have strategic plans.