September 24, 2013
Elliot Lui tells me that hotels really hate online travel agencies. His reason? The hotel website, while receiving decent traffic, loses a larger portion because their booking engine fails to offer all the extras that travelers want. His response? He co-founded Travelnuts where he currently serves as CTO.
The team, a group of passionate world travelers, realized that hotels needed help to maximize the value of direct bookings. The Travelnuts engine, then, was designed specifically to increase direct bookings on hotel websites and to provide ancillary revenues for hotels from the sale of extra activities.
That is, hotels that use Travelnuts can sell, right from their own website, not only hotel rooms but also other things travelers might need during their trip: transportation, hotel extras, tours, and activities. Lui broke down the benefits of the Travelnuts platform and the journey to get it adopted into hotel booking systems for us.
Tech Cocktail: What is the benefit to using Travelnuts?
Elliot Lui: For guests, in a nutshell, the benefits are that the platform is relevant, cheap, and convenient. We use the data they supply during the booking process to provide the most targeted offerings and exclusive discounts for booking anything they might want.
Hotels, on the other hand, get a great opportunity to increase their conversion of online bookings and revenue per guest. Every activity that is booked through Travelnuts earns the hotel a small commission as well.
For the people actually offering the extra booking options, they get to increase their business by targeting more guests rather than a subset of guests that visit the concierge. When you pair that with the fact that a lot of service providers do not have online presences, you see how we really help them increase traffic and revenue.
Tech Cocktail: What has the journey been like getting Travelnuts up and running?
Lui: We have stuck to our primary theory from day one, and it led us to initial successes: user experience and conversion is higher when the activity bookings are fully integrated into the booking flow. We were able to secure some much appreciated funding from the Progression Labs incubator.
However, it has not all been easy. Realizing the reluctance of larger properties to change their existing booking systems, which are often very complex and require involvement of multiple decision makers in different parts of the organization, slowed us down a bit. But we powered through and designed our product to integrate with the existing booking engines of large hotels to eliminate the apprehension on their part.
How do you see Travelnuts fitting into a larger trend?
We are effectively killing two birds with one stone here, providing personalized recommendations for travelers while also utilizing the growing online marketplace for bookings. Going from that, we are looking to increasingly promote bookings via smartphones and help hotels make that transition to mobile fast and easy.
Travelnuts was featured at Tech Cocktail's Downtown Vegas Mixer & Startup Showcase on September 12th.
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