Ruchir Bang, CEO, Stuba
We hope you are as thrilled as we are with our new curation-led accommodation search. It all started a couple of years ago and who would have thought it would take a pandemic to come up with our most innovative technology change to date? Like most other travel businesses as the pandemic took hold, our sales stopped almost overnight; and suddenly we had time on our hands…and lots of it!
Of course, like everyone else, we all sat back during the pandemic and watched box set after box set on Netflix and ordered goods from Amazon; but that didn’t sit comfortably with us – we had to use the time to our advantage. However, it did get us thinking that at the heart of the Amazon and Netflix success stories is how they can quickly get the product best suited to the needs of the end-user.
Our constant quest for innovation drove us to go back to the drawing board and see how we could improve on what we had. And then it hit us; why hadn’t hotel searches changed over the past ten years? And then a double whammy – we are all so used to using curated searches in our daily lives now via the likes of Netflix and Amazon, why hadn’t it been mirrored in accommodation search? We continued to be in constant touch with our travel partners, like them, trying to figure out what the world would look like post-pandemic and what tools we could evolve to make their lives easier. So, we set our tech team a task, and here we are!
Quite frankly, it’s no longer about the numbers game for bedbanks. We can all boast how many thousands or million plus hotels there are in the inventory, but the reality is that puts an extra burden on the travel consultant to research, sift through and recommend to the end customer. For too long, we’ve acted as a hotel warehouse with too many properties to work your way through, taking up precious time that could be used for the next booking.
Our new curated approach is about match-making the right set of hotels to the right set of agents. As with daily life, a ‘one size fits all’ route no longer works, particularly when selecting a hotel as customers’ demands have become more discerning. Our state-of-the-art technology uses clever predictive analytics and algorithms to curate a selection of hotels for travel agents.
We’ve flipped our outlook from ‘how can we sell more to the travel agent’ to ‘how can travel agents serve their customers better?’ For us, it’s all about travel agents selling more effectively and profitably – our vision is to be travel agents’ most loved platform for curated hotels! It’s not just about changing the look and feel of a website, it’s much broader than that, it’s about travel agents partnering with Stuba in a simple and immersive way.
More than ever, customer service is at a premium, particularly as the world seems to be struggling with it currently. We are ensuring agents can use their time to not only cope with demand but to provide superior service and knowledge to secure the sale. Hotel curations by Stuba will save travel agents time in having to toggle through endless filters to reach the correct hotel, leaving them to concentrate on building the relationship with their customers. It may even throw hotels and categories into the mix that they didn’t know their customer wanted and create opportunities to upsell!
Equally, we see our relationships developing further with our hotel and supply partners; with more targeted deals and availability as we will have more intel on what products work for which travel agents and where the value lies for the travel agents to serve their customers. We can ensure the product receives the visibility it deserves; by finding diamonds from the dust. After all, when was the last time a travel agent found the hotel for their customer listed on page 17 of the results?!
For us, the launch of our curated approach is just the start of things to come. The more travel agents start to use the curated listings, the more our algorithms will offer valuable recommendations. As I mentioned earlier, our quest for innovation never stops and already we have an exciting development pipeline to enhance what we are launching, including more agent-friendly curations and tools to help secure the sale. We are also looking at how travel businesses can adopt the concept over API and are in talks with several of our customers already.
Most of our innovations have come from liaising with our agents and taking in feedback and this is no different. I’d love to hear how this is improving your working day and if you have any suggestions as to how we can further help you boost your profitability.
Best wishes, Ruchir.