Hotel Quickly received a US$1.16 million investment (HK$ 9 million). Among the three investors is Boo Hwee Koh, former SingTel and Singapore Airlines Chairman, and currently on the board of several private companies, including Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. So much for the press release. Anyhow, it’s not every day that a Startup with Thai operations receives such a funding, though Noonswoon, Computerlogy, and Priceza received significant funding recently. Step by step though, over the next couple of days/ weeks we will write a couple of basic profiles regarding all these companies and the areas they do business in.
Let’s start with Hotel Quickly.
Hotel Quickly is a mobile app offering “last-minute” hotel room booking for travellers. Rooms are available for same day booking from 12 noon to 4AM. Starting with that initial night, reservations can extend for up to 5 nights. The app is available for free for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry 10 operated smartphones. Now operational on 2 continents and 11 countries across Asia Pacific, Hotel Quickly now covers nearly 40 different regional destinations. Every week more hotels and cities are added, and more than 150,000 users have downloaded the app since late March. The Startup has already been named Top 100 Red Herring company in Asia of 2013, and has been nominated for Thailand’s Digital Innovation Asia awards.
In one sentence: Hotel Quickly offers the cheapest hotel rooms in town if you have the nerve to wait until you arrive at your destination.
It’s mobile commerce and it’s big, particularly in Asia. In Q4 2012 GlobalWebIndex (summaries) reported that in China 55% of their respondents made purchases via their mobile phone, that is more than double than in the US (19%). The rest of the Asian-Pacific countries have almost all higher rates than the US as well.
- South Korea: 37%
- India: 26%
- Indonesia: 26%
- Vietnam: 24%
- Malaysia: 23%
- Thailand: 23%
- Japan: 22%
- Australia: 17%
- Philippines: 15%
That is just for Asia though and only a minority of people have smartphones, or travel. It’s likely much more interesting to look at the Travel Industry statistics, even though of course, the amount of smartphones increases everywhere. Since 2009 leisure travel planning has moved towards mobile devices by a whopping 450%. In 2012 38% of leisure travellers and 57% of business travellers used their mobile devices for travel information. GuestCentric reported from their study if bookings are made through smartphones 60% of them were for same night or next night stay. A Priceline.com survey (small sample size though) found that half of the mobile hotel bookers surveyed had already left home and were on the road when they made their reservations, particularly looking for “only tonight” deals. Similar results can be found in the Expedia Media Solutions and comScore survey reports. They found 1/3 of mobile users are planning travelling on the go.
The Global Online Travel Report 2012 expected that mobile online travel bookings will make 1/3 of the worldwide volume by the end of 2012 and the growth is particularly driven by emerging economies. One could go on here, but all indicators show growth and a movement towards mobile – which is a general trend anyway.
That is pretty much what Hotel Quickly is in for. Anyhow the business model has been proven in the US and Europe already, with Hotel Tonight, and Really Late Booking, which just adds to Hotel Quickly’s appeal to investors. Price, discount/sales, speed, and availability were among the most frequent reasons travel bookings were not made online, but these are the target areas Hotel Quickly is looking to excel in.
Tomas Laboutka, CEO – Tomas got his Master from RSM Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the University of Economics in Prague. He has worked as a Business Consultant and Project Manager before FOLA, and educational agency in Prague. He was member of the National Economic Council of the Czech Government in the sub-committee for Entrepreneurship, while being Managing Partner a FL Ventures, an internet and technology investment with annual turnover up to €1 million. Tomas is also member of the Sandbox Network and AIESEC.
Christian Mischler, COO – Christian co-founded Lerta GmbH (IT-Outsourcing, hosting, VoIP etc.) in 1997 and KKarten Verlags GmbH in 2003. He worked for two years at Credit Suisse as an Inhouse Consultant. While being at Credit Suisse he became co-founder and partner at mindprep Verlag AG, the largest Swiss study aid company, which merged with Uniseminar, of which Christian is still a partner. After leaving Credit Suisse, Christian founded Crystal Ventures and joined RocketInternet to co-found FoodPanda Thailand, before eventually becoming FoodPanda’s global COO/CTO.
Mario Peng, CFO – Mario got his education at the University of St. Gallen and at Dartmouth. Like Christian he worked at Credit Suisse before going into Corporate Finance at the Swiss bank Vontobel. Subsequently he went into direct private equity investment at the Partners Group.
Christian is surely the most seasoned entrepreneur and has quite some experience in running companies. He has done so in Europe and SEA specifically Thailand. He has been working with Rocket and common with former Rocket employees, they know how to execute. His local experience makes him an excellent candidate for the COO position. Additional experience at Credit Suisse doesn’t really hurt either. Mario brings significant financial experience both in terms of education as well as work experience. Tomas finally adds an exquisite network and pretty good educational credentials and of course experience in Venture Capital. Say whatever you want but, I’d give that a thumbs up.
Product, Functions, Traction
It’s an app that comes on Blackberry 10, iOS, Android and not Windows Phone. Average rating across all stores is 4 to 4.5 stars and the main complaint is there are not enough hotels, which Hotel Quickly is obviously trying to change. Self-reported Hotel Quickly has about 150.000 downloads since March 2013. On Android the App has somewhat between 50.000 and 100.000 downloads. The app features hotels from 2 continents and 11 countries across Asia Pacific. Hotel Quickly now covers nearly 40 different regional destinations. Given that it have only been 7-8 month since going live, this is quite respectable.
Several Angel Investors have invested in Hotel Quickly and they come from all around the world including countries like China, USA, Thailand, and some country in Europe. In total we speak about 7 different stakeholders of whom Boon Hwee Koh is the only name that is popular enough to be mentioned.
Boon Hwee Koh is probably best known for being former chairman of Singapore Airlines, SingTel, and Temasek Holdings but he has been serving on boards and directors of so many different companies that it would be tedious to go list them all. The Harvard and Imperial College graduate can open almost all doors in Asia and beyond.
What to do with the money?
Obviously expand. I assume the focus is on an increasing traction and adding hotels. 25 people are already a quite large team, and 11 countries are also quite a lot. 150.000 users sound a lot but it shows more the potential than anything else. A 2011 study showed that about 26% of apps downloaded are actually only ever tried once and subsequently discarded, go figure. However if you can “educate” frequent travellers to always buy tickets at the very last minute via Hotel Quickly– this can quickly become profitable business.