• Can you give us a brief career history to date?
“Prior to Stayful.com (launched in 2013), I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible people and companies: Hotels.com, Expedia, TicketsNow. I fell in love with hotels working for Ian Schrager Hotels, Kimpton Group and Four Seasons. As of late I also have been also been given the opportunity to advise and invest in several startups.”
• When and how did you come up with the concept for Stayful?
“After working with many people and for companies in the hotel/travel industry, I kept hearing the same issues: boutique hoteliers running lower occupancies than chains and paying higher distribution fees and consumers saying it was hard to find these hotels. In 2013, together with many people in my network, we created a place where people could go to discover and experience the independent and boutique hotels and where these hotels could connect with the boutique traveling community as a low cost of distribution. Stayful offers travellers a way to quickly and easily negotiate the right prices for themselves and their budget, while also creating a unique travel experience to fit their tastes. We also give independent boutique hotels a solution that no other online booking service has offered in the past, by enabling them to fill their unsold inventory at fair market and mutually beneficial booking prices.”
• How has the industry reaction and hotel uptake been to date?
Boutique hotels are incredibly supportive of our model. We developed a valuable marketplace for them to have a direct interaction with our customers and help drive new business immediately at a 10 per cent fee.”
• Have you got plans to expand to markets outside the US and if so which ones?
“We are currently in 19 US markets and plan to be in 25 by the end of the year. We are planning on expanding soon into Canada and Europe.”
• Boutique hoteliers are often critical of OTAs on one hand, while being reliant on them for business on the other. Can Stayful help them to be less reliant on the big OTAs?
“Stayful is actively trying to bring the traveller and the hotel closer together. The OTAs are providing a great service at a cost that makes sense to them. We are looking to drive bookings at a fee that is more aligned with the business model of true independent boutique hotels.”