“Hotels are not just for tourists”: Interview with BYHOURS’ co-founder and CEO Guillermo Gaspart

A lot has changed since we last interviewed Guillermo Gaspart, CEO & co-founder of BYHOURS. The online platform that allows you to book microstays in more than 3,500 hotels on the 5 continents in packs of 3, 6 and 12 hours is on the move. They started this year with €8 million in funding poised for further expansion, sold more than one million hotel hours, expanded to more than 600 cities around the world, opened a second office in Mexico and resiliently faced the corona outbreak.

Today we touch base once again, but this time on a different topic: How has the COVID outbreak affected the travel industry, how to cope with it, move forward and follow future travel trends.

With the rapid spread of coronavirus and government-imposed travel restrictions being exercised around the world, the entire travel industry is facing a huge stress test. How is BYHOURS coping with the global pandemic?

Since we’re able to restart our activity, after the state of alarm, we have focused on offering the most profitable alternative to hoteliers, as we have always done. And on the other hand, we have brought local leisure closer to citizens than ever before. They can re-discover their cities and stay in big hotels, realising that hotels are not just for tourists. Furthermore, we keep all our clients up-to-date with information on health and safety measures in hotels. So that they enjoy knowing that everything is well managed in the hotel.

On the bright side, every crisis also opens up new opportunities, accelerates changes and helps to discover new perspectives. The same applies for BYHOURS. You have just launched BYHOURS Direct, a B2B service. Tell us more.

BYHOURS Direct is a worldwide leap forward for the company. BYHOURS Direct is the hotel SAAS that we have created 100% from BYHOURS, so that hotels can offer rooms and meeting rooms by the hour from their own website. So far we have worked in 25 countries around the world, but with this software, any hotel, regardless of its geography, can opt for the service. We want to help the hotel sector with direct sales of ‘micro-stays’ from their websites. This is a delicate moment for tourism and contributing with our tool is also beneficial for all hoteliers.

The pandemic has given birth to a new trend in hospitality: hotel-office. A growing number of professionals are now using hotel rooms as temporary offices. According to you, does this trend have long-term possibilities?

Smart working has been introduced in many companies and will now be much more common than before. More people will combine going to the office for two or three days with working from home. And another one who only works from home. The need to have a comfortable, quiet and safe space for occasional occasions such as videoconferences or important meetings is going to increase, and choosing a hotel for a few hours to do so is the perfect resource, as is already happening. So we believe that this trend does have the potential to continue in the long term, without a doubt.

In your opinion, what other trends can we expect in the industry, coming out of the crisis?

The fact that the client has total flexibility in their trips will be another very marked trend after all this period of the pandemic. People have lost a lot of money on trips because they couldn’t cancel or be reimbursed for trips already paid for. Now the client seeks to have the maximum security, in case there is an unforeseen event and they can cancel without any cost or loss of money.

After many months of lockdowns and uncertainty, people will be showing an increasing appetite for travel. What role can BYHOURS play here?

As we have done since 2012, we’ll continue to offer our ‘microstays’ for all people who travel and need to spend a few hours waiting between flights, or for their next train, as well as all those who, due to business trips, need a few hours in a hotel to rest, or to prepare a meeting. And finally, we’ll continue betting on local tourism and proximity, to continue discovering the magic of cities.

BYHOURS is a prime example of a startup demonstrating adamant resilience by quickly re-prioritizing resources to survive the crisis. As the world is embracing the second wave of COVID-19, what are some of your business survival tips?

The most important thing at this time is to respect hygiene and safety measures, ‘enjoy’ the necessary precautions, and live your day-to-day. It’s difficult to plan things in the long term, so the BYHOURS team works month-by-month to improve and adapt. It’s very important to have flexibility and know-how to adapt to change, something that we’re very used to doing in the world of startups. And to always work with positivity, learning from mistakes and growing in good times.