BYHOURS is the leading international online booking platform/app that allows you to book microstays in more than 3,000 hotels for 3, 6 or 12 hours. The Barcelona-based company has introduced the first pay-per-use system in the hotel sector, which allows the customer to choose the hotel check-in and check-out time, and pay only for the hours they need! With BYHOURS, Hotels’ check-in times are up to you. Today we had the chance to interview the BYHOURS founder Guillermo Gaspart. Enjoy the interview:
How did you and your co-founders come up with the idea for BYHOURS and what made you sure the idea has big potential?
6 years ago, Christian Rodriguez, a business oriented and analytical minded entrepreneur focusing on disruptive models, asked me, as a hospitality expert and hotelier, why the shortest stay you can book at a hotel is 22h. At that time, products and services were being personalized in all sectors, but not when booking a hotel room. This question was the starting point and the implementation of the pay-per-use model to the hospitality market. Although we developed and launched the microstays and BYHOURS concept in Barcelona, some months later and spread to the main cities in Spain, and later on to international markets. We are already present in over 600 destinations and 3 continents, and there is still a big growth potential in adquiring new customers and turning BYHOURS into a global platform.
What makes BYHOURS stand out from competing hotel booking platforms?
We do not have any direct competitors in the markets and countries in that we operate as no other platform is offering the flexibility we provide to users and the hotel sector. But there are other day time hotel platforms offering a close package of hours for which they charge the same for 2 and 6 hours. We offer complete flexibility by allowing the client to choose the check-in and check-out time (24/7) to his hotel, while paying just for the hours he stays.
What were your biggest challenges within the first 5 years of the company and how did you master them?
In our case, it was and is being still the knowledge of the service, definitely. As said, we represent an innovation to the market, the sector and even to our customers in most of the countries. So our main challenge has been the lack of knowledge of what we provide. We don’t have direct competitors, but we are the first company on building up this business as a whole and the ones defining the roadmap of the microstay business. Another challenge is that the Hotel room is a concept that is deeply rooted in our minds as a place to go to sleep, and it takes time for people to realize the amount of problems that can be solved in a hotel room when you can book it only for a few hours.
How difficult is/was the internalization process of BYHOURS? Where are you currently active and which markets are you looking at for the further expansion?
BYHOURS at this stage operates in over 600 destinations in Europe, Latin America and some key cities in the MENA region such as Dubai or Doha. This was a result of an ambitious plan of expansion carried out for over 3 years and thanks to the support of both national and international investors which love the microstay concept and want to boost and export it to new markets. But the internalization process has been challenging as we have had to face the lack of knowledge about the concept and provide explanations about the business. However, in terms of bookings it’s performing extremely well in the main cities and areas near airports, among our users are business people and travellers. We count with a strategic plan for our expansion that we are currently putting into practice in additional markets. For the upcoming months we have set the objective of enlarging and consolidate our business offer in the countries in which we are currently present, together with gaining our first cities in a strategic new market for us: the USA.
With a constantly growing team of 40+ employees how do you make sure everybody stays motivated and how do you support the corporate culture?
There is a unique company culture and atmosphere at BYHOURS, that’s why we sometimes say we are the Dream Team (haha). International, motivated, hard-workers, young. Based in Barcelona, we are now 42 international employees but we will surely take on new staff until end of this year in order to accomplish our expansion plans. For us very member of the Team has a direct impact on the business, and motivation is the result but also the cause of the success.
What are the next milestones for BYHOURS and where do you see the company 4 years from now?
Our main milestone to achieve in the coming 4 years would be to become the key player of the microstays market worldwide. In this sense, our coming plans and steps are set towards an international expansion. Firstly, we would consolidate and reach breakeven in the markets in which we are present in Europe, with special focus in Germany, Italy, UK and France. Next big step is the North American market, USA, where we foresee to start offering hotel hours in the main cities and surroundings of the major international airports in an 18-months plan. BYHOURS already offers microstays in hotels in New York since some months trial.
In total, you and your co-founders were able to raise about €8.3 million in venture capital. Can you provide our audience of young/aspiring entrepreneurs with some advice regarding fundraising?
First, never give-up! Our fundraisings were successful so far because we have a clear understanding of our market and the added value our product offers. So an innovative idea is a good starting point, but the main success relies on the execution. You’ll have to demonstrate positive KPIs and scalability strategy. Generally speaking the VC funds are interested in the market potential, the team and the business model. Since we have been monetizing from day one, our team is getting more experience each year and we are growing internationally, so there are always interested VC to back up our vision.
What is your experience with Barcelona as a city to start a tech company?
One of the current European and international focus of the entrepreneurial sector is set in Barcelona, and it’s not casualty. Although we are both from Barcelona, in our opinion there is no a more appropiate city where to start a tecnological business nowadays and more if this is in relation to travel and tourism. Barcelona attracts talent, investment and investors in the technological and digital fields, and the business here are proving to generate a valuable social impact. Big international companies have set operations center and offices in the city, as well as some prestigious research centers, institutions, business schools, and universities. Complementary, some of the most important international fairs are held in Barcelona. This allows us to be more close to the latest trends and young talent.