I am starting a travel marketplace. What is the best way to reach out to hoteliers n resort owners?
I don't mean to be flip, but if you go this approach, you will need millions in capital and while Mariia is not wrong about the approach that she suggests, features aren't going to cut it for your communication with them. All they care about is traffic and heads in beds.
You are up against 3 industry behemoths that collectively spent $10b last year just on marketing alone (not even on inventory acquisition). They drive 648m unique visitors per month. And there are still more than 50,000 brick and mortar travel agencies worldwide that also drive traffic to them.
So getting anyone's attention is going to be a huge uphill battle, no matter how much better your mousetrap is.
Contracting with hotel and resort inventory is a very labor intensive approach. And then driving people to your marketplace is the really expensive piece. Plan on spending $1m to drive about 600k interested travelers. Of those just 1-2% will convert to a booking if your site is optimized for conversion.
You are better off being an affiliate of one of the majors, but most won't talk to you until you have a community of users that you can sell to.
I know that this is discouraging news, but I've been in this industry since 1978, since travel began being distributed electronically by more than just travel suppliers and I've literally written the book on global travel distribution.
Reach out to me on LinkedIn and I'm happy to chat. I don't visit this site every day.
I was about to write something along the lines of what @Chicke wrote, coming from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and Lodging Magazine. I think you need to stop before you start and figure out your market fit, which may tell you that you don't have a business. There is no need for yet another travel marketplace, at least not in the mass market. Perhaps something in a niche market, but there are lots of those too. Maybe the situation is different if you are targeting travelers in another language or from some country other than the USA. I expect you'll find it extremely difficult to deliver value not already being delivered by one of the giant travel sites.
Do some history research on the agglomeration of all the small tour and travel companies as they were put out of business by the big platforms and marketplaces. You'll see why, and what they did to try and hang on, and why none of it worked. You'll also see what the current marketplaces did to rise to the top and shut out further competition. The last disruptor was AirBnB. Are you at least as different as them?
Feroz - I am happy to speak with you directly. It is important to understand that, while difficult, the "signing up" may be the easiest part.
Having access to their inventory and ultimately driving traffic to your marketplace, big or small, broad or niche, is the big challenge. You have to have enough inventory to matter and to attract clients and they don't just "find" you. Competition for keywords is fierce online.
You need to create an invitation letter describing all the benefits that these hotels will get from adding their hotel to your marketplace as an additional advertising opportunity. Do you already have subscribers or visitors? How many? Do you promote your marketplace online? Try to attract their attention by describing all your available features in your newsletter. Contact hotel owners through their contact forms and LinkedIn.
Hi Feroz, I'm a startup founder in travel and hospitality and I help and advise startups too, my one piece of the advice and it comes fresh from helping a start-up team that didn't have a lot of industry knowledge - would be that if you don't know the industry that well or have a strong network (I'm assuming this because you are asking how to reach hoteliers) this will be extremely challenging for you to begin with. This industry is still ripe for innovation and helping with pain points but you have to really understand and how it works first. Hoteliers are bombarded with the next best thing. This isn't to burst your bubble, on a positive note - just get out there, pick the phone, send emails, network, start talking about what you know and how you can help. Do some focus groups too. Connect with my on Linkedin if you would any further guidance or would like people to have a look at your model. All the best! Charlotte
While Chicke is correct about going big, there is room for relatively small players, where small is $1-5M/year, which is great if you don't have investors expecting something huge. (Ideally, you don't get investment at all.) Once you hit that, you can decide whether you want to roll the dice to try to go big, but you'll be in a much better position to do so.
However, if you want to be a small player, you have to go where the big guys aren't. In your case, you need to talk with 50-100 small hotel owners to figure out how you can help them make more money.
If you can't make small hotels more money, you'll have to figure out other partners. Again, you have to talk with 50-100 so you know how you can convince them that you can make them more money.
Yes, you have to figure out how to convince your partners that you'll make them more money. If you don't do that, they won't partner with you.
Talking with them is the only way you're going to figure this out.
You should start doing this before you write any code. You'll likely find out that much of the code that you planned to write is wrong.
Feroz, I've been in the hotel business since 1984, and now advise start ups. The advice in this thread is excellent. You can take advantage of all the perspectives here to test your ideas and build a business plan. Greg
Thank you everyone for your valuable inputs. I too believe that we dont need another replica marketplace when there are big guns with deep pockets and so successful in market.
I plan to play in a niche area.
Some members have kindly extended their willingness to connect and discuss and I shall be talking to them soon and discussing my biz plan.
Have a great day.