Roomixer presents a twist on hotel bookings by monetising turnaways

ditulis oleh : Jomblo Terhormat 09 Juli 2013
The seed for Roomixer was planted a year ago – a marketplace for hotels and vacation rentals to trade business they are turning away.

The B2B service was conceived in Tel Aviv, initially for small properties but after a pilot, Delilah Dagmi joined founders Liran Jakob Rosenfeld (CEO) and Salick Cogan (CTO), bringing hotel chain experience with her and the concept was expanded to all types of accommodation.

Following a seed round of $500,000 earlier this year from angel investors, the plan is to launch in Amsterdam in July although a pilot is ongoing in Israel.

Revenue will be drawn from commissions as well as fees charged on the money made by hotels from buying and selling rooms via the platform.

Describe what your start-up does, what problem it solves (differently to what is already out there) and for whom?

As an act of good service, accommodation often refers guests for whom they don’t have a room to a different accommodation.

Roomixer offers a way to solve the turnaways market pain:

When a guest contacts a hotel to make a booking, the hotel can ask them if they would like a nearby hotel to contact him/her in case of a vacancy. If the guest approves, the hotel can publish the guest reservation request on Roomixer’s marketplace. Other accommodation can see the newly published guest reservation request and pursue it.

Once the reservation has materialized, a commission is earned by the referring hotel.

Why should people or companies use your startup?

Our startup is a B2B business and it is aimed for use by any type of accommodation.

We bring a new revenue stream for hotels. As sellers, they can publish their turnaways at no cost and earn a commission if the referral turns into a booking. As buyers, they get access to a new marketing channel, buying referrals for no cost and paying a small commission (lower than OTAs) only if they manage to convert the referral into a booking. No guaranteed reservation – no cost.

Another big advantage is that unlike marketing campaigns, in Roomixer you have access to certified referrals. You have all the information of what the guest is looking for (when, where, special requirements, etc), so you can offer them the best for their specific needs.

Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?

We are about to launch our product in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has been chosen as the pilot city due to its high occupancy rates, small geographical size, logistical advantages and the connections we already made with the hotel chains there.

Since our product is location oriented, we plan to take over the biggest and busiest cities in the world with the help of hotel chains and local partners.

How did your initial idea evolve? Were there changes/any pivots along the way? What other options have you considered for the business if the original vision fails?

The idea came from our CEO, Liran Jakob Rosenfeld. He was previously an owner/operator of a boutique hotel in South America and a guest house, which he built from scratch and sold two years later. In 2007, he founded MiniHostels – an online booking portal serving over 3,500 hotels and hostels worldwide, with a strong footprint in South America.

During these years, Liran visited over a thousand receptions all over the world and witnessed the same scenario happen everywhere he went – people would call or email the hotel to make a booking, but wouldn’t be able to.

When we first started, our idea was to create a kind of “receptionist marketplace”, where front desk managers would get rewarded for selling turnaways. This idea pivoted to our current pure B2B model. Roomixer’s mission is to provide a new revenue stream for hotels.

Where do you see yourselves in 3 years time, what specific challenges do you hope to have overcome?

Both Liran and I have experience with building companies and entrepreneurship. We want to build a nice company and expand it to different busy cities around the world. We both try to enjoy our work as much as possible, so having the chance to travel a lot is very exciting for us. That’s also one of our biggest challenges. Since we are a location oriented startup and not a viral one (in the common sense of the word), we need to launch our product with high touch marketing.

What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?

I think that the travel tech industry is in a bit of a hold right now. We hope to change this and bring innovation and creativity.

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