Businesses looking to get into Asia’s burgeoning online travel market need to go local. That’s the message from Tomas Laboutka and Christian Mischler, co-founders of HotelQuickly, a same-day mobile booking app that just raised a $1.1 million Series A round of funding.
The app is quite simple, it lets hotels sell unused inventory at a discounted rate from midday to 4:00 am of that day. Want not waste not, these rooms would go unsold — with no income for the hotels — but instead travelers can leave their lodgings late to potentially claim sizable discounts.
The company, which launched in May, has a staff of 25 people — 10 of whom moved over from Rocket Internet-backed companies — who are spread across 11 countries (covering 400 hotels) in Asia-Pacific running local markets and country-based initiatives.
“Localization is the driving force, it’s about understanding the market,” says Mischler, who is HotelQuickly COO, before pointing out that some of the larger, global-minded startups often suffer from developing a regional strategy when every market is distinctly different.
For instance, Bangkok-based HotelQuickly sees its highest volume of bookings from Thailand, which remains a popular travel and holiday hotspot. Yet, it makes greater revenue from the relatively small — yet lucrative — markets of Singapore and Hong Kong, where travelers pay higher costs for a room.
HotelQuickly recently expanded its offering to longer bookings, and it plans to push more local-focused services and angles to its mobile apps, which are available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry 10 and localized in five languages.
For now though, neither of the co-founders is revealing specific details.
The funding round — which includes new investor Boon Hwee Koh, former chairman operator Singtel and Singapore Airlines — will go towards building out its sales, support and distribution network, as well as developing the product experience.
“There’s a lot of good stuff happening in Southeast Asia, we see a bright future ahead,” says HotelQuickly CEO Laboutka. “In particular, we see a great opportunity to build a business in Bangkok, where the local startup community is growing and our costs are proportionally lower than elsewhere.”
Despite recent acquisitions, the company is not planning for an exit. Laboutka and Mischler say they are instead fully focused on the “big opportunity” that is Asia’s online travel industry.
Images via HotelQuickly