September 22, 2014
I love going on vacations. I also love my friends and family. Combining the two elements, however, is not something I particularly enjoy. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with these people in some new part of the world; I really just hate having to deal with the logistics behind such trips. Oftentimes, what ends up happening is that I’m (somehow) always left to plan the details of the trip. And, seriously, what makes planning for a trip the absolute worst is having to book hotel blocks: it takes a lot of research, you have to actually make calls to each hotel to check on availability and pricing, and then you have to pretend to have negotiation skills and get it down to a price that works for your group of friends/family. Seriously, eff that.
“When someone wants to book hotel blocks now, the current experience is awful,” said Jason Shames. “You not only have to call the hotels directly, but you have to call multiple times. During these calls they often forget to ask for certain details and the person on the other line is left with not knowing what to do. There’s a lot to keep track of and there’s a lot of negotiating involved – and, overall, it’s a frustrating experience.”
Shames is the cofounder and CEO of the New York City-based Jetaport, a startup that is on a mission to rid our world of these associated pains, allowing consumers to book hotel blocks in a much simpler way – without having to make all those awkward phone calls. Whether it’s for a wedding, family reunion, corporate retreat, or a vacation with a group of friends, the company simplifies the overall process for booking hotel blocks, ultimately solving one of the primary pain points for consumers.
If and when a consumer is looking to reserve nine or more rooms, they can simply go online and use Jetaport’s platform. Users simply enter a target destination, dates for the needed rooms, and the number of rooms needed (each room type can be specified). Three favorite hotels can be chosen from the results. From there, Jetaport takes over – serving as a kind of travel agency – and makes the calls to each hotel and negotiating rates for each group. Once Jetaport has contacted all of the choices, all that is left to do is to simply accept or decline the offers. And, as a bonus, what’s great about using Jetaport is that the company can often save its users about 28 percent off rooms and provide upgraded amenities (such as free shuttle service or free WiFi).
“The original idea was a new buying model that allowed you to share and collaborate in the planning process with other mobile participants,” said Shames.
According to Shames, he and his cofounder, Marcos Jaramillo, initially came up with the idea behind Jetaport over three years ago, transitioning from a platform that focused on collaborating on travel plans to a service that targets a primary pain-point for consumers. The two started working on the company full-time after their acceptance into the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. Eventually, they landed a partnership with Expedia to provide them with the data that enables Jetaport’s platform today (bookings aren’t through Expedia, but the hotel data is sourced from them).
Jetaport recently launched search capability based on Google Places, allowing consumers to search for hotels near a given location. Soon, the company also plans to launch full e-signature functionality, making the process even more efficient on the consumer side, as well as reduce turnaround time for clients and hotels. Shames also told me that Jetaport has an upcoming major update that will help them to really focus on the demand aggregation of its huge (and rapidly growing) user base – we’ll make sure to keep you updated.
Learn more about Jetaport from their website.
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