Snapshot is a travel startup breaking the mould of new businesses in the sector - an industry-facing brand which aims to overhaul technology and processes in hospitality.
Launching this week and with a sizeable early round of funding, Snapshot has a string of services focusing on bringing together disciplines such as revenue management, distribution, marketing and finance into what it calls "demand management".
At the centre of it all is what the company claims is the industry's first data-led platform to allow hoteliers to make "profit-driven decisions".
Q&A with co-founder David Turnbull:
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
I had been playing with the idea of an online data aggregation platform since 2009, in recognition of the growing challenges hotels face in consolidating numerous streams of data and intelligence.
The solution wasn’t just about building an online platform that kills the need for multiple excel sheets, but supporting hotels understanding of the growing inter-dependency between the roles of revenue management, distribution, sales and marketing and finance and requirement for making collective, profit-driven decisions.
Our approach is to consolidate these inter-dependent roles under one banner of "demand management" with a holistic solution of education, coaching and technology.
Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?
- Michael Heinze, co-founder and CTO
- David Turnbull, Co-founder and COO
- Margitte Verkruijsse-Reiner, vice president business development
- Michael Levie, board and investor relations
- Lennert de Jong, board and partner relations
- Elisabeth Randle Winkle, board and strategic partner
- Wulf van Alkemade, board and principal investor
Team size in total - around 15 people
Series A round of Euro 1 million, split between state-funded grants and strategic private investors
Estimation of market size?
From a technology perspective: global! Literally any hotel that currently sets strategy and builds forecasts and budgets in Excel and works with multiple streams of data intelligence (demand forecasts, rate shopping, benchmark, online analytics, review indexes). Our education and coaching services are in the first phase focused on the European marketplace.
Well, we act as a plain canvas that allows hotels to aggregate all of their systems data and intelligence, alongside their own "user generated" data.
So from that perspective we don’t compete directly against anyone in the marketplace as we simply manage and visualize data from multiple internal and external platforms
Revenue model and strategy for profitability?
Our brand ID is simplicity and transparency which translates through to simple technology pricing plans (flat annual/quarterly or monthly) and a strict no set-up fee policy!
The integration of our coaching service directly within the platform means hotels can purchase "on-demand" support without any lengthy contract terms or administrative headaches.
What problem does the business solve?
The industry is arriving at cross-roads where the blurred lines of responsibility for commercial (profit) management are failing to launch.
Typical problems faced by industry include:
- Ageing approaches to segmentation
- Focus on gross RevPar
- Excel chaos
- Rising cost of distribution
- Over-lapping organizational structures
- Fixation with static data
- Aggregation of data
To resolve this, SnapShot has developed a holistic solution of education, consultancy and technology to empower hotels to make logical demand management analysis and decisions.
These solutions include:
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
- Educational programs for students/recent graduates on demand management best practice
- Coaching services to implement an effective demand management strategy
- An online performance and data aggregation platform enabling hotels to effectively strategize & forecast demand
- Performance transparency to all stakeholders of a hotel organization
The initial idea was to help hotels directly to improve their forecast and strategy by aggregating online all of the different streams of data and intelligence so they could make consolidated decisions.
How it evolved was the loud (screaming) message we heard from asset managers and financial institutions about the lack of control of cost of distribution and the growing concern this was causing.
This helped us to recognize that the technology needed to be more than an operational tool and provide a window for all stakeholders to view historical performance and future strategy with a profit/net contribution perspective.
The wider realization however was that technology on its own won’t fix the problem and hence the focus on long-term education and mid-term coaching to support the change management process.
Why should people or companies use the business?
Any hotel organisation (operator, owner, asset manager) that wants all of their performance data and intelligence in once central location, better control of their cost of distribution, and fast views of performance can achieve this in the short-term via the SnapShot, Hotel Demand Management Platform.
Our coaching services are aimed at providing mid-term support directly to hotel operators in the management of change of how hotels manage their demand to achieve increased profit.
Our education services are aimed long-term at inspiring future leaders and the next generation of demand managers, through immersive bootcamps hosted at partner hotel schools and universities
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
In the long-term it’s a difficult job, as we have set ourselves the lofty goal of educating the industry about the concept of demand management.
So our main priority has been to develop an active community of like-minded hoteliers, consultants, vendors and academics who can assist us in this goal.
Obviously speaking engagements are an ideal opportunity to start the process of change management, however in recent months and throughout 2014 we are hosting small "salons" where industry, suppliers and academia meet to discuss the concept of demand management and the steps needed to implement this.
As we launch the technology platform in November in beta mode, our focus is currently centred on building up market competence in the key locations of London, Amsterdam and Berlin.
We are positive that this market-led approach will support the initiative of increasing awareness of SnapShot and provide some very interesting data aggregation opportunities.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
I hope that within the next three years we will start to see the role of demand manager appear within the organisational structures of hotel organisation – a hybrid role that encompasses today’s revenue manager and ecommerce manager, schooled in sales, distribution, marketing and finance best practice.
If this is achieved then our approach to education, consultancy and technology can be judged a success
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Specific to the hospitality industry, I would like to see a more measured approach to the hype surrounding Big Data and recognition of the need for "small data" aggregation of both user and system generated data and intelligence... We hope that SnapShot can play a pivotal role in achieving that
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
Our strategic partner STR is probably where we have the closest alignment in terms of a shared view of where the industry is headed in terms of data analytics and aggregation.
In terms of both performance management and great service delivery, both d2o and Board International are doing a great work in the hospitality industry currently.
First up, it is encouraging to see a business enter the sector with an idea that is solely about improving how hotels operate - rather than another me-too, consumer-facing brand.
This is, perhaps sadly, rather rare these days.
SnapShot is similar to a number of hospitality-focused businesses that have emerged in recent years - trying to marry a number of the disciplines within a business under the umbrella of data analytics and technology (think: Nor1).
The continued fragmentation of hotel amenities into bundled (or unbundled) services will only increase as travellers (both business and leisure) demand more from their favourite brands, so in some respects SnapShot is in a logical and critical position in the accommodation food chain.
Another positive sign is the so-called "outreach" strategy the company has towards acquiring hotel clients, namely via use of the "salon" concept.
Positioning the brand as smart in terms of its services as well as understanding the challenges facing countless hotel chains and independents will be vital to attracting an early roster of customers.
Data analytics is not a particularly cheap service to maintain, so the training product and "salons" should go some way to picking up early business. This early phase will be crucial to supporting what is actually quite a sizeable team for a startup (and the inevitable burn-rates on capital).
NB: Here is SnapShot's six-second video clip: