Davinci TS is a platform for the booking and management of group bookings in hotels. It aims to modernize the process for tour operators and hotels through automation.
Alex Ilyash, founder of Davinci TS, decided to set up the company having lived through the challenges of making and managing group bookings in hotels. Founded last year, the Czech-based startup has just received funding from Seedcamp; it is now looking to expand from its Prague base.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
We are developing a platform for booking and management of group reservations at hotels. Estimates have shown that tour groups form a significant sector, approximately 20% of worldwide hotel bookings.
But the reservation process is still usually carried out by hotels and travel agents via email and phone calls, which can be often inefficient and even drag out for several weeks.
Our goal is to bring the whole group booking industry into the 21st century.
Prague, Czech Republic
What inspired you to create this company?
Prior to starting Davinci TS, I started and owned a successful tour operator company focused on group tours for young people in the Central and Eastern Europe region. After five years in business, I realized that all group reservations in hotels are still done manually via e‐mail and phone calls.
This process is really time‐consuming for tour companies as well as for hotels. I got inspiration to make group booking more easy and change the industry worldwide, so I sold my share in the tour company and went to Silicon Valley to gather best practices from the startup industry and develop Davinci TS in Europe.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- We are very agile, adopting own company and product according to market needs all the time.
- We are connecting hotels directly with tour companies, without any meditators.
- We have a flexible price; hotels can adjust the price to different requests.
- Big destination management companies own allocations in hotels, which can’t be sold in our platform.
- The conservative market is taking time to adapt to new IT technologies.
- Standardize group booking
- Bring the group booking process online
- Connect customers and suppliers worldwide
- Travel seasonality
- Big hotel chains developing their own systems
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What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
There is no easy way to find a hotel for a group and easily book it. In order to find the hotel, tour operators have to Google hotels, write requests, negotiate conditions and sign contracts.
On the other side, hotels have the same amount of work: Search for good partners and reply to hundreds of emails. Most of the time, hotels do not even want to reply to group requests because they don’t know the tour company.
By automating the inefficient process of group reservations, we are saving time and money while increasing occupation rates of hotels. We are easily connecting them with new group booking partners all over the world.
Typically, hotels work with a limited number of travel companies and can’t put much effort into actively seeking new partners. Our platform does that for them.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We now have 5,000 group-friendly hotels in every European country, and we plan to have 30,000 by the end of the next year. Our team is systematically working on creating new partnerships with hotels in every European country.
We also work with 100 tour operators from all over the world, including China, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. We are focused not on quantity, but quality.
Lots of tour operators are signing up with Davinci TS. But we are doing our due diligence on them to check how many tours they are organizing and how trustworthy they are. Our main focus is to match the best suitable hotel with tour operator requests automatically and not do the mass mailing.
Our current conversion is getting near 40 to 50%.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
The genuine need for Davinci TS already exists, as I have described. We are helping hotels and tour operator companies to work more efficiently, thus saving time and money while increasing occupation rates of hotels.
Our goal is to become number one in the B2B global travel market, which is accountable for about 20% of worldwide hotel bookings.
How and when will you make money?
We are making money already. Using the platform is free for both sides - hotels and tour companies. Only when a reservation is successfully completed, a transaction fee applies.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
Our team is young and very open-minded. We all worked in travel before - some worked in tour companies, some in booking portals and others for DMCs.
From our point of view, a successful business should be built by combining all of our knowledge and by creating an IT product that suits all of our customers. We can see the same group booking problem from all sides, and we're creating an all‐in‐one solution for them.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
To convince conservative clients to step back from email communication and try the new, modern way of doing business. It works on both sides, for tour operators and hotels. But once they've tried - and get used to it - they don’t want to use email again.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact ‐ so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
We are helping solve a real problem between hotels and tour operators. It is the right way for the market to change and automate.
Feedback from our clients and partners is really positive, and with know‐how provided by our international investors, we are able to scale our operations fast enough toward becoming number one in the global B2B travel market.
What question might we have missed?
We are building a European hub in Prague and hiring a lot of talent there.
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