By Alexandra Zubko, one of our co-founders and GM of our Americas office. From working as an omelette chef on a hotel buffet, to being VP and Head of Global Strategy at InterContinental Hotels, I’ll admit my career has been pretty varied so far. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d learnt from each experience until Charlie, Alasdair and I set about starting Triptease though. Starting a business puts all of your knowledge and skills to the test but I think there are a few tips that can help lead you to start-up success.
First you have to understand how your clients think
IHG had a huge impact on who I am and how I think. While there I did a lot of work trying to understand consumers and what people are looking for in both the booking process and their stay. Understanding this gave me a head start at Triptease. I also learnt how lots of different people own different parts of a hotel: the brand, the real estate group, the management group etc. All of this complexity shows why creating a single customer experience for guests remains a big challenge for hotels.
Front line experience can be invaluable
I had no idea how hard working on that omelette stand would be. Never underestimate the pressure of a hungry hotel guest waiting for breakfast! Sure I was just making eggs, but the added stress of giving the guest a great start to their day – talking to them, cooking, working quickly and managing the queue – made it much harder. As you can probably tell, I wasn’t very good at it, but it was a great experience and to this day I have the utmost respect and patience for people working in hotels dealing with guests day in, day out.
Decide on your mission statement
At Triptease we want to make the booking process better. Before people even step into a hotel they should have an enjoyable booking experience. It should be enjoyable and exciting, not stressful and angst ridden as it is right now. There’s a huge amount of complexity and variety on offer, from a family beach holiday at a resort in Cancun, or a city break at the Generator Hostel in Berlin – an interesting experience at 37, take it from me – but hotels are starting to find new ways to personalise what they have to offer guests and it’s exciting to be part of that.
Be your customer’s biggest advocate
I want to help hotels stand out. The main stay of what we do at Triptease is around pricing, which gives hotels so many more opportunities to differentiate themselves. Take for example, when I stayed at the Holiday Inn Atlanta Perimeter/Dunwoody. My stay wasn’t flawless – my door just would not stop beeping! – but the hotel staff were so responsive and keen to help out that I would go back there in a heartbeat. It’s so often those little touches that make all the difference for a guest, I believe that every hotel has something unique to sell, they just need to recognise what it is.