Have you ever gone to a hotel and wished you had a better view or extra pillows you didn’t need to ask for? So have Sue Ciappara and Nils Adam, who took their passion for travel and combined it with their experience in the hotel industry to create a hotel personalization startup called Pimp Your Stay
Have you ever gone to a hotel and wished you had a better view or extra pillows you didn’t need to ask for?
So have Sue Ciappara and Nils Adam, a couple from the Mediterranean islands of Malta who also appreciate hotels that offer a good espresso (Adam) or cappuccino (Ciappara), and that welcome pets like their Rhodesian ridgeback.
They took their passion for travel and combined it with their experience in the hotel industry – Ciappara was on the executive team of a Malta hotel for six years and Adam studied hotel management and had a brief career in the field – to create a hotel personalization startup called Pimp Your Stay.
I shouldn’t have to ask
“We wanted to create an online tool that provides hotels access to arriving guests’ lifestyle, preferences and expectations,” Ciappara told Geektime. “The main problem that we are solving is that most of the time a hotel does not know who their arriving guest is. This can create unfulfilled wishes and disappointments, waste of time, additional personnel effort and wastage.”
For travelers, pimping their stay means getting what they want, without having to ask for it every time. For hotels, using the customer relations management system can increase customer loyalty by allowing them to plan a customer’s stay based on their personalized wish list.
Indeed, a 2011 study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that hotels need to focus on personalization so they can meet growing consumer expectations. “Gaining a better understanding of customer needs and preferences – or guest intimacy – can enable the delivery of personalized services that will help increase customer satisfaction, lower service costs and improve guest loyalty,” the study found. “Further, to break through the consumer perception that hotel brands are all the same, hotel providers must implement solutions that provide unique insight into guest preferences and apply this knowledge to deliver increasingly differentiated and delightful services.”
Pimp Your Stay, which has attracted more than 530 users from 11 countries since the website was launched in April, is free for travelers, who need to spend about 10 minutes completing a preferences profile that can be used for all future hotel stays. The company’s paying customers are the participating hotels, which are charged a flat rate for every 10 profiles they receive – 9.90 euros for three-star hotels, up to 19.90 euros for five-star hotels.
Hotels can also target new customers by selecting for specific preferences and traveling habits, a package that starts at 66 euros for up to 100 clicks. Pimp Your Stay is currently offering all hotels a free six-month trial period.
The company has signed up three hotels in Malta and a five-star boutique hotel in Ireland, and has five other hotels in the pipeline for registration in the coming weeks. Its focus for 2015 is to attract more four-star and five-star independent hotels in Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands.
The Malta-based company, which was originally founded in October 2013 as Hospitality Solutions Ltd., is bootstrapping until it achieves its target number of hotels signed up for the Pimp Your Stay system. At that point, Ciappara said, the company will be looking for either venture capital or private investors.
Pimp Your Stay faces competition from companies like Canadian industry giant Guestfolio, which sends automated messages and satisfaction surveys to customers to increase engagement and receive feedback, won the tourism industry’s 2014 World Travel Award for leading hotel CRM technology provider, and newcomers like Berlin startup Conichi, an app that uses location-sensing technology iBeacon to recognize returning guests and let staff know their preferences.
Ciappara said her startup differs from her competitors in that it is a low-tech tool that can be used by any hotel. It also gives staff time to prepare specialized services rather than identifying guests on the spot as the beacons do, and allows hotels to build a real-time, customer-initiated relationship with guests rather than a virtual one.
“A hotel has only once chance to win loyalty and retention,” said Ciappara. “We encourage hotels to use their valuable time to amaze and not just satisfy.”