TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring Texas, US-based TripCraft.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Bill Nicholson and Mike Murray, hotel distribution and technology veterans founded TripCraft LLC.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Bill is most known for his work at Pegasus Solutions, where he played a major role in developing many hotel industry technology “firsts,” such as the first GDS and Internet distribution platform for hotels, Travelweb.com, and the first travel agency commission payment processing system.
- Mike is a 20-year technology veteran and known for creating one of the hotel industry’s most innovative SaaS-based Internet platforms while CEO at HubX. He also led the development of the RedX central reservation system while CIO at SynXis, and was VP Airline Reservation Systems at ITA Software.
The founders have funded TripCraft with no outside investors participating at this time.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The crossroads of travel and mobile will be a huge opportunity for hotel brands and travel companies. This new and essential sales channel is opening up quickly and with it comes uncertainty around the right strategy, technology and level of investment.
We saw both the opportunity and uncertainty that mobile presents to hotels, and also realized there were numerous hotel and technology companies rushing to market with quick answers that would not stand the test of time.
This prompted us to design and develop a solution that enables hotel companies with a rich mobile platform that is easy, elegant, and integrates with their internal systems.
It also saves them time and money, while immediately putting them on the forefront of the mobile travel phenomenon. Delivering all these capabilities, while giving them complete management control over their mobile presence and guest experience is an industry first.
Describe the business, core products and services?
The business is a private-label hosted service that integrates with the brand’s content management and reservation systems to allow hotels to manage their mobile consumer activities via one platform.
TripCraft delivers a mobile consumer app for the hotel that seamlessly integrates to that hotel’s back-office systems, enabling the brand to make changes to their hotel content, rates, promotions and services and have it immediately available to their mobile consumers.
The platform and apps also provide location-based services to the mobile user such as maps, directions and destination guides.
We’re also working on capabilities for targeted marketing, concierge, and more on-property services such as mobile check-in/out, room service, entertainment, and more.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and its 25 properties around the world will be using the TripCraft platform and launching the TripCraft-developed MOHG mobile app this summer.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we have worked closely with MOHG to prototype the platform capabilities and consumer app. We are also very well connected to other hoteliers across the globe and often discuss mobile strategies with them. We also have an easy-to-use feedback feature in the app to allow consumers to continually tell us how we’re doing.
As far as investors? The founders continue to provide funding for the venture.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
The business model is a Software-as-a-Service model. Revenue models are based on “per-property”, but we offer significant discounts to brands and companies with multiple properties.
Actual fees are structured around initial setup and any special customization, with monthly subscription fees based on level of support and/or transaction volume.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- The innovative product we have developed, our deep industry experience, a track record of delivering on large complex innovative distribution platforms and hospitality relationships.
- Currently have a small team with limited capacity. Nothing that can’t be fixed with more revenues!
- Continue to expand the product to add features for the guest to use the mobile device for pre-stay, in-stay and post-stay information and transaction capabilities extending the brands reach, service and loyalty. Extend the platform to offer more location based services and social media to capitalize on the growing mobile market.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- We will not be able to grow fast enough.
Many industry colleagues who have a limited vision of the impact that mobile devices will have on travel distribution.
The founders of TripCraft were able to see firsthand how the Internet changed travel distribution and were there to respond to that change with innovative products and services for hotels around the world.
Bill and Mike are seeing the same type of significant game-changing opportunities as a result of the emerging mobile landscape. The enablers are here to create some very inventive capabilities to further extend the brand’s image and the guest’s experience to a new consumer channel.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
TripCraft would like to have several leading hotel brands, representing hundreds of properties from around the world on our platform.
With the explosion in consumer adoption and use of mobile devices, we feel our platform and strategy will be an easy win for our customers. Hoteliers often point to their web site as their most cost-effective sales channel, but that will soon be eclipsed by mobile.
TripCraft will be the vehicle to achieve these results and will measure our success on the number of hotels, consumers, and transactions flowing through our platform.
TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.