Amsterdam-based HolidayHero provides property rental hosts and hotels with software to save time on guest management, boost revenue and improve the guest experience.
HolidayHero recently raised €500,000 in seed funding to develop its guest experience platform for rental hosts and hotels.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
When guest expectations are met, a guest will be satisfied. If you exceed guest expectations, they will refer friends and family, give five-star reviews, re-book and spread the word for you. To stand out and generate repeat business, guest interactions need to be personalized, seamless and proactive. However, this could become time intensive and costly.
With HolidayHero’s guest experience platform, vacation rental hosts and hotels get the tools to save time on guest management, improve the overall guest experience, and boost top-line revenue. Based on our research, we expect to deliver an extra thousands of euros in revenue per month on top of the short stay rental (STR) income.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup
HolidayHero is a guest experience platform and ecosystem that allows vacation rental hosts and hotels to manage and improve the overall guest experience. Our business is about exceeding guest expectations and offering vacation rentals and hotels the tools to do so. The HolidayHero software platform has two core elements:
- The operator tool (host facing) - The operator tool is managed by vacation rental hosts and hotels. They can create or import listings, digitize the house manual, create local recommendations, in-home upsells (early check-in, extra cleaning), connect guests to out of home experiences (boat tours, museums), connect to property management systems, smart devices and other relevant tools.
- The guest app (guest facing) - With the HolidayHero Guest app, they can digitize and automate all guest interactions beyond the booking. The app supports guests during their stay and strives to exceed their expectations by sending them proactive and personalized in-home and out of home offers.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company
- Strength: Our team's extensive knowledge on developing SaaS Software in the cloud, marketplaces, ecosystems, and comprehensive growth strategies for start-ups.
- Weakness: Starting in a relatively small country, with a relatively small seed round. Need to localize the software for all European markets that will influence the MVP to go to market strategies.
- Opportunities: It is one of the fastest growing verticals in the rental/holiday industry. Global competitors only exist for three years in the market with Western Europe not having a direct competitor.
- Threats: OTAs and PMSs are moving more and more into the guest experience technology space.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
There are many travel software vendors out there, but most of them are focused on the management of the property. They are not so much focused on how hosts can improve their guests’ experience – while this is crucial for repeat business. Guest experience platforms are the solution to this problem. Guest experience platforms can improve the overall guest journey, reduce time spent on guest management and boost top-line revenue.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
The current state of the market offers some interesting growth opportunities. Without offering too much, this is what we can say:
- Most software vendors out there have a high-friction model. This means that prospects need to request a demo or a free trial. This is something we see as an opportunity. Knowing this, we will focus on a product-led growth strategy.
- Guest experience software is a relatively new type of software. This means that demand-creation tactics will play a pivotal role in building product awareness and generating customers.
- In Europe, local approaches are important for success. We would focus on building the right partnerships that will support local growth.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market
Today's travelers have plenty of options, with more than 5.6 million listings on Airbnb and 28 million on Booking.com alone. However, because traveler expectations are higher than ever, hosts and hoteliers must put in even more effort to win patronage and boost repeat business.
Basic housing requirements can no longer be met that easily. The founding group understands personally what it takes to satisfy, and even surpass the expectations of today's visitors, especially because they have owned rental units themselves.
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While the majority of hotels and short-term rentals generate income from reservations, many are missing out on the opportunity to increase this income by providing guests with a tailored experience from pre-arrival to checkout. Every aspect of this experience, from proactive service to personalized interactions and connected experiences, and understanding every individual guests’ needs - and exceeding their expectations - is crucial to staying ahead of the competition.
How and when will you make money?
HolidayHero has two monetization models:
- A subscription model (SaaS) - For the platform usage we will ask for a monthly fee.
- A transaction model - Hosts can offer in-house upsells and the transactions will run through the HolidayHero platform.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
We have been fortunate enough that the co-founders have been working together on various high-profile projects and companies before.
Investors and co-founders Ruud Stelder and Dennis Cuijpers built an e-commerce software platform, which they later sold to Lightspeed. Hjalte Niehorster, investor and co-founder, owned an e-commerce shop and built apps for the SEOshop platform. Later he sold his app to Lightspeed and started working there as a director of product. After leaving Lightspeed, Ruud and Dennis started Orderchamp, a retail wholesale marketplace. Sjeel Koster, CEO and co-founder, has been working globally in senior commercial leadership roles for Lightspeed and EVbox.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
With the recent investment we got and the knowledge that guest experience software has been proven successful, we have the freedom and time to research the market extensively, build a unique value proposition and get the product to market standards.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of the lucky ones?
Guest experience platforms are a relatively new concept. The few players that are out there only exist since 2019, which means that there is still a lot to develop to get to the "ultimate guest experience." We believe that exceeding guest expectations is crucial to the success of vacation rentals and hotels. The guest journey needs to be seamless, connected, proactive and personalized to be ready for the next generation of travelers and to be able to stay ahead of the competition. But making the impact goes beyond in-stay guest experiences.
Travelers pick a destination before they pick a hotel or vacation rental to stay in. It is underestimated what role hosts and hotels play in influencing their guests on how to experience a certain destination. Guest experience technology exists to bridge the gap between experience suppliers, hosts and its guests.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
We will have a good base of happy customers that are using our product. We will at least have two vacation destinations that have adopted HolidayHero as the main guest experience platform. Last but not least, we will be in the process of/or closing a seed round.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
We want to become the market leader, build a lasting product and brand that is well known for both B2B and B2C. We will stay private, we do not foresee acquisitions or being acquired. Our team is focused on building a sustainable platform for future growth. We expect to be one of the top employers with a global reach in the near future.
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