HotelQuickly, a leader in last-minute hotel bookings in the Asia-Pacific region, today announced that it has raised US$4.5 million (THB 145m) in a Series A-1 financing led by GREE. William E. Heinecke, CEO and Chairman of Thai-based Minor International, participated in the round through his family office. The investment follows a US$1.15 million Series A round in August 2013, bringing HotelQuickly’s total funds raised to date to more than US$5.5 million (THB 180m).
With the additional capital, HotelQuickly aims to accelerate its product development, marketing, and hiring to drive sales across Asia-Pacific and to secure its lead in the region.
Christian Mischler, COO/CMO of HotelQuickly said “We’re looking to hire top talents throughout the region, though our Bangkok office will grow most of all. We have many open positions, mainly in product development (senior IT developer for mobile apps and for our extranet), as well as market coordinators and marketing & communications. We will hire more people on the ground also in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia. Top talents combined with funding will enable us to create an even better product and to roll out aspired features faster. We will also invest more into marketing in order to grow from the to date mainly organically obtained 300k downloads to a multiple of that. In terms of expansion, we will focus mainly on the 12 countries in which we are already active. We currently cover more than 100 destinations and we expect to be able to double that number by the end of the year. Wherever someone travels, a great deal in a great hotel should be available and ready to book through HotelQuickly.”
“HotelQuickly has expanded at a phenomenal pace this past year to emerge as the clear leader in last-minute bookings in the Asia-Pacific with more than 3,000 partner hotels and 100 destinations,” said Eiji Araki, a Board Member at GREE, Inc. “This is a great opportunity for GREE to take part in that growth story, while teaming up with the world-class talent at HotelQuickly to accelerate our own entry to this space. Our two companies share a mobile-first approach, so this partnership is a natural fit. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”
“We’re seeing a clear shift from online to mobile and as traditional booking channels lose ground, there is tremendous opportunity for a service like HotelQuickly in the Asia-Pacific region,” said William E. Heinecke, CEO and Chairman of Thai-based Minor International and one of Thailand’s most renowned and successful entrepreneurs. “HotelQuickly is best positioned to capitalize on this movement. I have faith in the executive management and I’m excited to be backing this adventure together with GREE.”
Christian added that, “the biggest competition at this point are old resp. traditional booking channels such as Agoda, expedia, etc. More and more travellers realize that they can safe a lot of money if they book last minute, vs. the inflated prices that they would pay through an online travel agent’s website. There have been a lot of false promises in the past by these companies (“best price guarantee” etc.), we’re uncovering these lies. Price fixing dominated the travel industry for the past 10 years, only thanks to the rising popularity of mobile apps this is being broken up and more competitive prices can be offered via the mobile channel. On average we are 28% cheaper than any traditional website – and our rates are unbeatable. If one finds a rate cheaper anywhere else than on HotelQuickly, we will refund twice the difference.”
Christian is also noting that GREE invested directly, not through their venture arm. GREE recently launched their very own last-minute hotel booking app, targeting domestic travellers in Japan. The app is only available in Japanese. “We will work very closely in order to refine their product based on our experience, GREE obviously brings along an incredible amount of experience in mobile product development, in business intelligence, and in ramping up operations quickly while offering localized products. This will be done via personnel exchanges and close collaboration.” the COO said.
Christian also acknowledged Mr. Heinecke tremendous experience in building up companies in Asia Pacific and he expects HotelQuickly to learn a great deal from his best practices. His involvement should open also up collaborations with the Minor International companies. However, Mr. Heinecke has invested personally, not via Minor International, hence there is no affiliation between HotelQuickly and any of the MINT companies. “We will get access to the decision makers, but in the end it has to be a viable business case for all involved parties in order to make sense.”, Christian said.