TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring France-based room-level hotel booking service CheckYourRoom.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
CheckYourRoom is a travel startup based in Paris. We're a small team of passionate hotel experts, complimented by a staff of talented photographers and computer engineers.
The founders are young entrepreneurs who share a common passion: hotels.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We've received several grants and private investments.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Nowadays, it's easy to book a hotel room in our travel destination, and within our budget. However, it's still difficult (and at times seemingly impossible) to find a hotel room that really meets your expectations and individual needs.
Travelers spend hours (typically anywhere between four and seven hours) researching a hotel. And yet, despite all this time spent on research, travelers are often disappointed by their hotel experience – especially by their room.
Booking a hotel online is conveniently simplified – but it leaves out so many important details that could change one's hotel experience and make or break a trip.
When we realized that there were other discerning travelers out there who demanded to know more about the hotel room they were booking, we set out to research and evaluate boutique hotels across the world and showcase individually designed hotel rooms, those hidden treasures that are not easily found on the web.
Essentially, we set out to solve three problems:
- Lack of information about specific hotel rooms (detailed descriptions of room amenities, layout and design) : on CheckYourRoom, we put the focus back on the hotel room and offer thorough descriptions and photographs of every room featured on our site.
- Lack of hotel rooms with distinctive characteristics and individual design: all the hotel rooms featured in our collection are uniquely designed. There are lots of beautiful hotel rooms out there but their unique properties are not highlighted. Instead, hotel rooms tend to be grouped together and classified into categories like Standard or Deluxe that mean little to the traveler.
- Lack of expert advice regarding hotels and hotel rooms (especially in Europe): our Room Concierges provide travelers with independent hotel room recommendations that are tailored to the individual traveler's needs and requests.
Hotel rooms are sold online like a standard consumer product but we've developed a unique expertise to help the traveler find the hotel room that matches his/her specific needs – whatever the destination or budget.
What we're trying to do at CheckYourRoom is provide travelers with a fool-proof hotel experience. We've not only done the leg work of selecting only high quality boutique and luxury hotels, we've also evaluated hundreds of hotel rooms across the world and selected only the best, most unique hotel rooms out there.
We give the hotel guest full access to their hotel room before they decide to book it – what they see on our site is exactly what they'll get at check-in. If a traveler books a hotel room on our site, we are confident that it'll meet their expectations.
As passionate and experienced hotel experts, we wanted to create a fully independent online hotel booking destination whose mission is to eliminate unwelcome surprises and give travelers the opportunity to find a hotel and hotel room that truly meets their individual needs and expectations.
Describe the business, core products and services?
CheckYourRoom offers two main services:
- Online hotel room booking - We are the first site that allows travelers the opportunity to book a specific hotel room from a selection of 250 boutique and luxury hotel rooms handpicked by our staff for their exceptional character , unique design, or incredible view. You can find and book your hotel room by destination, budget, keyword or tag.
- Room concierge (a room matching service) - Our Room Concierges are experienced hotel experts whose mission is to help travelers effortlessly find the ideal hotel room, one that's tailored to their specific requests.
Great for discerning travelers who are pressed for time, they can now just fill out a form on our website with their destination, budget and specific hotel or room requests and one of our Concierges will consult their database of 10,000 hotel rooms and give the traveler a call back with their perfect room matches.
We believe the hotel room is evocative of emotions, a place where you can live magical moments and unforgettable experiences.
That's why we spent so much time on the hotel and room selection process: we visited and painstakingly catalogued thousands of hotel rooms (starting with independent, boutique hotels in Europe).
This research process laid the groundwork for the database we now have for our Room Concierge customers. If you're going on a family trip to Madrid and want two connecting rooms, one with a king size bed and the other with two twin beds, with a great view, and within walking distance of your favorite local attraction – all while staying within your specified budget – we can find and book it for you!
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
The online hotel room booking portion of our site targets a more affluent community of travelers – discerning travelers who are looking for more than just a place to sleep during their trip. Our key customer is likely someone who appreciates the finer things in life and who enjoys good craftsmanship, with an attention to detail and design.
For Room Concierge, however, our key customer is really any traveler who has ever been disappointed by their hotel experience.
Whether you're a business traveler looking for a hotel with a stand-out conference room, a family with a toddler who needs hotel babysitting services, or a couple looking to book a romantic room with aan oceanside view - we can help anyone find what they're looking for. We have a Room Concierge form tailored to every traveling profile.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
For the hotel room booking portion of our website – absolutely. We weren't surprised though that travelers were more receptive to our concept than hotel owners/managers.
Lesser known, independent boutique hotels gain a lot from our exposure and tasteful presentation of their hotel and rooms through our website though – so they quickly understand the value of having their rooms on our site.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
With the hotel room booking portion of our site, we receive a commission on every room that is booked through our site (smaller than most hotel booking sites).
Our Room Concierge service is a paid hotel expertise service. The cost of our expertise advice is directly linked to how quickly you want to receive your personalized hotel room recommendations. The starting fee is 30 euros (for a Room Matching report in under 2 weeks).
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Our niche position in the online hotel booking industry - we let travelers book a specific hotel room (at the best price available) and we provide detailed, fully transparent information about the hotel rooms so travelers avoid unwelcome surprises at check-in.
- A unique expertise - European hotels and hotel rooms (rapidly expanding worldwide). We're the first website to offer detailed descriptions and photographs of hotel rooms. We know all the rooms on our site, inside and out.
- - Innovative Room Concierge service - our personalized hotel room recommendation service brings a tremendous amount of value to the traveler: from hours of saved time that would have been spent researching a hotel (it only takes a few minutes to fill out our Room Concierge form) to the elimination of unwelcome surprises at check-in.
- The process of gathering information about specific hotel rooms is time-consuming : we emphasize quality over quantity, which is why our collection of boutique hotel rooms is currently limited to approximately 250 rooms, the majority of which are in Western Europe.
- We insist on visiting the hotels and seeing the rooms for ourselves before we add them to our collection. So we're far from catching up to Expedia (!), but we're slowly expanding worldwide and we're adding new hotels and new rooms to our site on a daily basis.
- Lack of mobile version/app. We're currently working on developing a mobile version of the site so people can browse and book hotel rooms on their smartphones but it won't be available for another few months.
- Become a hotel booking website that changes the way people book their next hotel room. We're exploring a brand new idea here – the idea that one can book a specific hotel room, one that suits one's individual tastes and needs. At the same time, we're also taking advantage of an existing trend , the customization of consumer goods, and applying that to the online hotel reservation business.
- We want travelers to ask themselves why they're willing to settle for just a standard one-size-fits-all hotel room when they can book a hotel room that meets their individual expectations and demands? And, with Room Concierge, we want them to ask if the hotel room they stayed in during their last trip was really worth the long, frustrating hours they spent online researching and booking it?
- We want people to look at our Room Concierge service as a time-saving service that guarantees an incredible hotel experience.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- The hotel booking industry is a crowded market and there are tons of bigger online hotel booking sites out there. But our European hotel expertise is unmatched and although our collection of hotel rooms is limited, all the rooms on our website are hidden treasures that have character, and soul.
No one actually told us that our idea lacked potential. However, some people didn't immediately see the value of having detailed descriptions and photographs of individual hotel rooms.
But attention to detail is fundamental to us, and to all discerning travelers – and not just the affluent ones. A lot of people also thought we were crazy to spend so much time visiting and evaluating individual hotels and rooms.
We could have created just another run-of-the-mill hotel booking site that didn't put any effort into presentation and photography. But we knew that the only way to distinguish ourselves was to bring something more to the table: our expertise in hotels.
We're convinced that the future of the online hotel booking industry is in providing customized, tailor-made hotel experiences !
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We're hoping to have hotel rooms from all around the world within 12 months. We want to have the most detailed hotel room database in the world and we want our site to be the premier online destination for discerning travelers looking to book a boutique hotel room that meets their specific demands.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.