Entrepreneur – Introducing HotelFlex

 

EP works and interacts with numerous entrepreneurs across the sector. At the last count there were nearly 130 and all have great new ideas and innovation to bring value to the hospitality industry.

 

 

 

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“On average 35% of guests check out before 9am, leaving those rooms empty for 6 hours. For an average 200 bedroom hotel, that’s 8,500 lost hours of revenue every year.”

Max Shepherd-Cross, CEO and Co-founder of HotelFlex

EP is delighted to introduce HotelFlex, a new concept inventory management tool that allows hotels to drive accretive revenue through intelligent management of their inventory. The CEO and co-founder is Max Shepherd-Cross who argues it is well known in the industry that hotels struggle to sell rooms on Sunday night. But it is less well known that the highest demand for late check outs is from European leisure travellers on a Sunday afternoon and the highest demand for an early check in is on a Monday morning from US business travellers. In both cases hotels have the inventory to service and monetise this demand, but don’t have the systems in place in order to do so.

The HotelFlex platform reduces the downtime between guests leaving and arriving. By matching empty rooms with existing guests who want to extend their stay through early check ins and late check outs, it allows hotels to boost revenue.

 

EP asks Max about his new concept…

How did your company begin? What was your inspiration behind creating it?
 
In my previous finance job I travelled a lot for a big American corporation. Which I loved, but I would often fly in on very early morning flights and my meetings wouldn’t start till 10.30/11am. After an all night flight all I would want to do is head to my hotel room, have a shower and rest up for a few hours before heading off to my meetings. But for love nor money, I could not get access to my hotel room until 3pm. And so I would end up sitting in a cafe for 4 hours and getting changed in the bathroom. It was incredibly frustrating. 
 
On one such trip I decided there must be a better way for hotels to manage this problem.

What problem do you solve in the sector?
 
We solve two problems. From the guests perspective, they can get access to their room when they actually want it and for the length of time they need it for.

From a hoteliers perspective, we help them drive accretive revenue.  Currently, on average, 35% of guests check out before 9am. These rooms then sit empty for 6 hours until the next guest arrives at 3pm. Which results in a significant loss of revenue for hotels over the course of a year. Our platform manages that inventory by ensuring the downtime between a guest leaving their room and the next guest arriving is as short as possible. We do that by intelligently matching empty rooms with guests that want to extend their stay by arriving a little earlier, or leaving a little later. 

 

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What stage are you at now?
 
We are launching this week across 5 trial hotels in London. To coincide with that, we are kick starting our seed investment round.

What have you enjoyed the most/been the most successful so far?
 
The moment hotels started saying “yes!” as it certainly didn’t happen straight away… We also won the WTM most exciting start up competition and were accepted on to the Google launchpad programme, which were both massive highlights along the journey. 
 
Biggest challenge you have faced so far?
 
As I referred to in the above question, we certainly didn’t get the product right initially. We got a lot of “no’s” to begin with (74 to be exact, but who’s counting….) 
 
How did you overcome this?
 
We refined our product on the back of those rejections and the advice from hoteliers that we met, and are in a much stronger position now. 

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Plans for the future?
 
We are running our trial launch over the next 3 months across 5 hotels in London. Off the back of this (hopefully) successful trial we will be looking to roll out our platform across the UK and internationally. 
 
Why is now the right time for your business?
 
I think hoteliers are becoming a lot more open to try new technology and ideas if it helps them improve their service to their guests. The rigidity of traditional check in and check out times no longer suits the way people travel. We simply enable hotels to tweak their offering to better service these guests, whilst offering the hotels the opportunity to drive accretive revenue.