Blink Booking is a startup based around a mobile application for last-minute hotel bookings in Europe.
While the market is believed to be worth 10 billion Euros annually, there is already stiff competition for a slice of the commission including JustBook and Hotel Tonight which recently launched its European play.
The startup, led byÂ led by chief executive Miguel Ortega, Rebeca Minguela in charge of marketing and Mark Datta in charge of finance and product, also adds any online tour operator to its list of rivals
Blink has already amassed a team of 30 based in London and Madrid and received a venture capital injection of Â $2.5 million from PROFounders and SoftTech VC as well as a number of angels.
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
Weâ€™re consistently able to offer bigger discounts than other travel websites, on a range of high quality hotels – sometimes by up to 50%. We help hotels to sell rooms that are unsold, meaning we can provide consumers with the best prices on room nights for last-minute booking. The app has been built specifically for mobile from the ground up, resulting in an uncomplicated, easy to use tool.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
We have a fantastic selection of high-quality hotels in more than 70 cities across Europe â€“ and itâ€™s being added to all the time. Blink Booking Â has more competitive rates than any of the online channels, including the big OTAs. Our fast booking and payment process lets customers buy room nights in a matter of minutes. And weâ€™re contactable – we pride ourselves on our first class customer service whether by phone or email.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
We run a broad range of marketing strategies in each country we operate in, from mobile advertising and street initiatives, through to PR support. We work hard at building trust and so word of mouth is one of our most valued tools. Happy customers who like Blink enough to Â recommend it to their friends and family are what we aim to achieve.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
Weâ€™re convinced that this is a cracking opportunity and weâ€™re extremely encouraged by our initial results. We may broaden the proposition in the future, but at the moment we are 100% focused on building the best possible service for hotels and customers alike.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
I think weâ€™ve all made plenty of mistakes in the past – recruiting the wrong people, underestimating how difficult it can be to make people change their habits and being slow to react to changing circumstances.
We like to think that weâ€™ve learned from our mistakes and at Blink, weâ€™ve built a fantastic team and our plans have been developed to take account of some of the challenges of launching a new channel for a new market place.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
We donâ€™t see Blink as a startup that is correcting a fundamental flaw in the travel industry. Rather, we think weâ€™ve spotted an opportunity where we can bring benefits to hotels and guests alike, by using new technology and starting with a blank sheet of paper to build a product that is tailored to the market.
While this is a great concept as soon as the big guns spotted the trend they jumped on the bandwagon. Priceline’s Tonight Only deals launched a year ago and the company unveiled a similar service for booking.com in April.
Clearly there’s a market there with Expedia saying recently that almost 70% of those booking a room on mobile were looking to stay within the next 24 hours and the online travel agent launched its deals engine on its website earlier this year.
So, it’s a question of whether newbies such as Blink will be able to throw the marketing dollars at it to keep up with the big guys as well as amass the volumes of inventory.
This is already an interesting space with many large and smaller players so only those who can build up a brand, provide the best technology and a slick service and have the best deals will survive.
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