EyeforTravel is pleased to announce the return of the ever-popular Get Funded Show and launch of the Innovation Awards as part of the Travel Distribution Summit Europe 2011, in London, May 11

Published: 26 Jul 2010

EyeforTravel is pleased to announce the return of the ever-popular Get Funded Show and launch of the Innovation Awards as part of the Travel Distribution Summit Europe 2011, in London, May 11

Both high-profile events aim to catapult savvy entrepreneurs into the limelight and give the direct contact to the industries top investors, all happening at the world's premier online travel event. With over 1,000 travel professionals and travel press in attendance at the summit, The Get Funded Show and Travel innovation Awards offers unsurpassed exposure and the ultimate visibility for ambitious entrepreneurs and innovators.

Visit The Get Funded Show site to see how you can apply and become the next industry success story.

Exclusive interview with Housetrip’s CEO, Arnaud Bertrand – ‘Targeting holiday apartments in big cities as an online intermediary’

Holiday rentals company HouseTrip, founded in Switzerland last year, believes that holiday apartments hold certain advantages for groups of travellers, which hotels struggle to match.

The company, which was elected ‘Best Travel Startup’ at EyeforTravel’s 2009 Get Funded Show, is now solely focusing on holiday apartments in big cities.

The online travel company believes it needs to create awareness about such concept.

According to Arnaud Bertrand, founder & CEO, housetrip.com, a lot of travellers still don’t know about the possibility of staying in a holiday apartment rather than a hotel.

“So there is a bit of educational work to do,” said Bertrand told EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta in an interview. He spoke about how the company benefitted from the Get Funded Show title, progress made over the last few months, new positioning and plans for the future. Excerpts:

How has the journey been for HouseTrip.com after emerging as the winner of The Get Funded Show 2009 in October last year?

Arnaud Bertrand:

Winning the GFS (The Get Funded Show) helped us in many ways, especially in giving us confidence that our model was the right one. Remember that when we won, we hadn't really started making revenue with the company so we weren't really sure we would be successful going forward. We therefore kept our determination and it paid off: we plan several millions in revenue this year! Also, by the end of the year we'll be the European leader in the Holiday Apartments industry: so we are pretty happy of our journey so far.

How do you think the event helped in shaping and growing a grass-roots venture into HouseTrip.com? How do you assess the significance of such an event from your personal experience?

Arnaud Bertrand:

Well aside from the confidence it provided us with, I'd say that it also helped us a lot in terms of networking: literally most people who count in the online travel industry were attending the event as members of the jury or simple attendees and we got to meet most of them and have kept in touch since.

One of the factors that went in favour of HouseTrip.com was its risk/reward ratio. How critical is it to accentuate on this while attracting investors and gaining vote of confidence?

Arnaud Bertrand:

Investors are risk adverse: no-one wants to make wild bets with his money. Reassuring investors that the risk of investing is low and the potential of reward high is the best guarantee to interest them in one's venture.

Can you elaborate on how have you expanded your operations – team wise, product development, technology etc?

Arnaud Bertrand:

We try to do what makes sense at the right time: easy to say but actually rather difficult to apply. For the team, the first step was to identify what concrete actions need to be taken, make sense financially, and to somehow prove with the feedback from the market that they really need doing. Once these have been identified, we simply have people join us to perform these actions. In terms of product development and technology, something important is to never be satisfied with what you have and strongly believe that one can always improve: the first step is to put in place some metrics to see from what you can improve on. Afterwards, we constantly make the product evolve to improve our metrics; it takes a lot of thinking and testing but I like to think that we cannot really go wrong with it as we simply keep what works!

HouseTrip.com planned to positioned itself as a one-stop marketplace for short-term rentals including vacation rentals, city flats, guestrooms and B&B. What do you think are the main challenges as far as this concept (buying holiday apartments) is concerned?

Arnaud Bertrand:

Actually the positioning evolved since the Get Funded Show: we now solely focus on holiday apartments in big cities. Within this focus, the main challenges are rather typical: the recruitment of the quality holiday apartments and of guests to stay in these apartments. For the guests, I would say that a main challenge is the fact that a lot of travellers still don't know about the possibility to stay in a holiday apartment rather than a hotel, so there is a bit of educational work to do. It's a challenge but also a big opportunity as the market grows bigger everyday as more and more travellers realise the benefits of holiday apartments compared to hotels.

Being an online travel venture, how do you go about controlling your marketing expenditure and the same time ensuring that you make the most of the traditional (both online and offline) and emerging digital mediums to reach out to consumers?

Arnaud Bertrand:

As a start-up, the most important thing is to stay focused: you cannot have too many marketing mediums otherwise you spread yourself too thin.

On the other hand, you need to test quite a few mediums in order to see what works for you. The way we do it with HouseTrip is that we always have a couple of marketing tests going on - which is easily manageable - while we spend the rest of our time on what we have identified as efficient and proven (for us) marketing mediums. All our marketing is online.

Is there any specific pattern you have come across as far as the buying behaviour for holiday apartments is concerned? What stands out from travel research/ planning and booking perspective?

Arnaud Bertrand:

A few things surprised us, like the fact that travellers book so much in advance. On HouseTrip, travellers book on average 57 days in advance which is quite surprising when you keep hearing that we live in a “last-minute society”.

Also, I am surprised by the low amount of complaints we have had: you would think that, being in such an unbranded and non-standardised industry where qualities and styles very literally from one apartment to the other, quite a few apartments would not suit all guests' tastes. Actually, a number of guests overwhelmingly find apartments great and enjoy their stay. I guess they are always surprised by the size of the apartments compared to hotel rooms and there is some form of "wow" effect there.

What’s on your agenda going forward?

Arnaud Bertrand:

We want to keep adding cities to our portfolio. We already have a lot but have a lot of other targets in mind: our ultimate goal is to provide a good choice of quality apartments in each of the world's top cities!

For more information on The Get Funded Show and EyeforTravel’s Innovation Awards, please download your information pack here

Or contact the event director, Tim Gunstone;

E: tim@eyefortravel.com
T: +44 (0) 207 375 7557


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