TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Italy-based hotel private sale website Hotelyo.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Hotelyo is a private travel club with discounted offers (up to -70%) for exclusive hotels and packages with unique destinations all over the world.
Every week we send to our registered users two updates with new travel offers that will be available for a limited time only.
Hotelyo brings together the internet expertise of Babotel, an online marketing consulting firm focusing on the tourism sector and the Italian marketing and e-business giant Jakala.
The company was co-funded by Danilo Gasparrini and Matteo De Brabant.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Danilo Gasparrini, CEO and founder of Hotelyo and Babotel, a web agency focused on online marketing and the travel sector. He has ten years of experience in the online marketing sector of the UK, working with advanced markets. In the past he launched Godado in the UK, the first pay per click search engine in Europe. The latest technology, the internet and a passion for tourism has informed his successive work experiences which include international marketing manager at Columbus Travel insurance and online marketing manager at Pegasus Solutions where he was in charge of the hotelbook.com portal development.
- Matteo De Brabant is the CEO and founder of Jakala Group that focus on loyalty marketing, e- businss and corporate events. Jakala has a turnover of €100 million and employ 250 people.
Hotelyo has successfully attracted close to Euro 1 million from angel investments. The exclusive travel sales business has already shown 500 k euro turnover; with the escalating interest from the private investment sector it looks set to continue exceeding expectations.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Our aim is to become the main point of connection between users and hotels/travel company.
We want to guarantee the best selection of exclusive hotels and packages to our club members in order to make easier for them the process of choosing a destination for their holiday.
We are also trying to help hoteliers and tour operators to sell the “unsold inventory” and therefore to help them to increase their revenue without damaging their sales strategy.
Describe the business, core products and services?
The core product is to offer exclusive offers available only for registered users for a limited time only. We guarantee the best prices and we can offer discounted rates up to -70% Membership is free and guarantees new offers twice a week.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our key customer are pretentious people looking for a different holiday in qualitative places.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we had a soft launch at the beginning of 2010 to test the ideas with a limited numbers of users. The response was great and we have decided to move the project forward.
We had a great response from both the final users and the hoteliers.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Exclusive sales have revolutionised the online shopping industry. Hotelyo follows a commission based model and we take a commission of 15% from all our travel partners.
It is a very effective model as our travel partner that get free visibility on our newsletter and free visibility on our website, and we only charge them if we generate booking.
We will always display one single hotel or travel package for each destination and therefore we guarantee great visibility.
The exclusivity of the ‘members only’ diktat protects the brand cache of exclusive travel names and the French LH2 Institute has found that the private sales business model does not only improve online sales but also increases sales in the traditional retail environment.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Strong knowledge of the travel sector
- Bespoken and unique offers
- Advisory board with experienced top manager that have already succeed in other sectors.
- We are introducing a new business model in the travel sector, an industry that doesn’t always adopt new things or change.
- The model will work only with a high number of members and offers
- To become a major player in the travel private sales sector in Europe
- Due to the quality of our offers, the word of mouth could help to accelerate our growth
- Potential to expand into new fast growing markets
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Building brand awareness in a crowded market.
- Inability to grow fast enough and to become a major player in Europe
- The travel sector is extremely competitive and established player can enter our niche market.
- Main player of the private sales or local based deal could enter aggressively this market
A good idea is not always going to succeed. Execution will make the difference and this business model requires capital. We have been told that the capital required to launch successfully this business maybe challenging in a tough economy.
So far results are encouraging and we keep receiving calls from top investors.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
To have established Hotelyo successfully in at least two european markets. This means to attract a large amount of quality users that travel frequently.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.