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Giving hotels back control over their profitability by increasing direct bookings – interview with Hotelchamp CEO Kristian Valk

We just had the chance to do an interview with the Hotelchamp Founder and CEO Kristian Valk. Hotelchamp is an Amsterdam-based startup which offers smart technology for hotels to increase direct bookings on hotel websites. With an extended package of website tools and next level smart personalization and segmentation techniques, a team of conversion specialists creates unique customer journeys for every hotel website visitor and generates more bookings from every hotel website. To find out what works best for the hotel, Hotelchamp offers a/b and multivariate testing. Hotelchamp was founded in 2015 and secured €1.75 million seed funding in summer 2016. In the beginning of the year, we mentioned Hotelchamp as one of “7 Dutch startups to look out for in 2017“. The young company is growing like crazy and will also announce a new funding round very soon. Perfect timing to catch up with Hotelchamp CEO Kristian Valk. Enjoy the interview:

How did Hotelchamp develop since August 2016?

On many levels the hypergrowth of the company kicked in. We grew from 25 employees with 7 nationalities to 55 employees with 18 nationalities. And today over 1.000 hotels in more than 40 countries worldwide are using the Hotelchamp solution. A big team of dedicated experienced developers have been working day in day out on the technology behind the leading marketing and sales platform for hotels. Since the launch of this platform in June 2017, hotels have more control on improving the online guest experience and boosting direct revenue.

What are the next milestones set for Q3 and Q4 2017?

The hypergrowth of Hotelchamp will continue in the second half of 2017. The customer base is growing fast and the team will significantly grow. Regarding the product there are many big releases coming up. The focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning will be even bigger.

Where do you see Hotelchamp and the market in five to ten years?

Today, Hotelchamp is the leading partner for hotels to boost direct bookings and build guest relations. Offering the state of the art marketing and sales platform for hotels combining both data insights and all the tools hotels need to execute their digital strategies. The coming years we expect hotels to have an increasing need for a stronger and optimized online guest experience, which matches with their offline hospitality services along with more control over their revenue.

Which are your biggest learnings as the CEO and co-founder of Hotelchamp so far?

Hypergrowth companies are facing challenges every day because of all dynamics that comes with that phase. In just over 2 years of existence growing to 55 employees and a customer base of over 1.000 hotels comes with some growing pains. Structuring processes and make everything scalable from day one to get ready for this phase is very important.

What are the main challenges as an entrepreneur in the hotel tech industry?

Like in every industry there are innovators and early adopters that love innovative technology solutions versus a group that will follow later the moment they understand and join the innovation. There are more than 500.000 hotels globally and since we now work with around 1.000 hotels, there is enough space to grow. The challenge is to educate the whole industry to explain the importance of our innovative platform for hotels.

Why do you think it’s important to help hoteliers increase direct bookings?

Over the last decades hotels have become increasingly dependent from third parties when it comes to generating online bookings. Because of the dominance from these so called online travel agencies, commissions have increased significantly and hotels have no relationship with their guest till they enter the hotel. By increasing direct bookings, hotels get back control over their profitability and get closer to their guests.

How could the hotel industry change because intelligent solutions like yours?

Globally, hotels are searching for solutions to improve sales through their direct channels along with their online guest experience. With a majority of people booking hotels online, technology has become the ultimate disruptor where hoteliers need to align their strategy to compete fairly. Smart technology should be used to help hoteliers creating outstanding customer experience, building guest relations and engaging from the very beginning of the booking process. Hotelchamp offers hoteliers the perfect solution to be at the forefront of the industry and achieve these goals.

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Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).

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