TLabs Showcase – ReviewPro
TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Spain-based hotel review analytics service ReviewPro.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
The company was founded in the beginning of 2008 by Dimitry Lvovsky and Tim Towle. In September of 2009, RJ Friedlander left his role as CEO of Digital Media at one of Spain’s largest media conglomerates, to join the company full-time and assumed the role of CEO.
The team is made of 35 professionals that come from eleven different countries. More than half of the team works in technology and product development.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Friedlander provided the initial seed capital and to date the company has raised more than 2 million Euros in several rounds of funding. The external funding came from both angel investors and a grant by the Spanish Ministry of Technology (CDTI).
The company has an enviable list of investors including the founders of two of Europe’s most successful travel related Internet companies, the founder of one of Spain’s largest Internet service providers as well as the second employee of Facebook.
What problem are you trying to solve?
ReviewPro offers a solution to one of the most important trends to have impacted the hotel sector in recent years. That trend is the influence of online reviews and social media.
This is an area of critical importance for hoteliers because user generated content is having a profound effect on revenue/distribution, sales/marketing and quality/operations both for individual operators and chains.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Our product is a web based analytical tool that aggregates more than 70 million reviews in 8 languages, collected from thousands of websites, including 60 leading OTA’s. We update review content multiple times a day and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are updated in real time.
We offer our clients what is in effect a “24/7 mystery shopper” allowing them to know everything that is being said about their establishment(s), we identify issues that are negatively impacting guests experiences and give them the tools to manage the improvement process.
We do this by offering analysis, customer intelligence, automated reporting and competitive benchmarking.
This information saves our clients time and money, helps them to maximize online revenue and enables better decision-making in the areas of sales, marketing, operations, quality, revenue and online distribution.
Two key elements of our analysis are the Global Review Index, a proprietary qualitative score that tracks a hotels online reputation and our semantic analysis, which evaluates the positive and negative sentiment of what is being said in both review and social media content.
Currently, we offer three versions of our product that meet the needs of both individual hotel operators, chains and asset managers.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We started our commercial activity about in the Fall of 2009 and we already have more than 1,000 clients.
Our client list includes 3, 4 and 5 stars hotels and includes all brands of the Sol Meliá Hotel Group, Eurostars Hotels, The Landmark London, Room Mate Hotels and hundreds of small and medium size hotels.
In fact, our clients cover nearly every segments of the hotel sector: from low cost operators like Sidorme to ultra-high end hotel like the Abac and include rural hotels, beach & ski resorts, as well as urban properties.
We currently offer our service to hotels in 28 countries and plan to expand significantly in the coming months.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We had more than 50 clients before we raised money from outside investors. Those initial customers played a key role in helping us to define our value proposition as well as the key functionality that we offered in the Beta version of our product that launched in April of 2009.
Since then, we have continued to innovate and launch new functionalities at a feverish pace. The majority of the ideas for the new functionality that we have launched have come from suggestions from our fast-growing base of clients.
Listening to our customers suggestions related to the product and an obsession to offer a high-level of post sales customer service are engrained in our DNA. These are just a few of the factors that have helped ReviewPro to stand out from our competitors.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our business model is Software as a Service (SaaS) and we offer our cloud-based technology to hoteliers based upon a monthly fee for each hotel that contracts our service.
Clients contract our B2B software solution on an annual basis and the price depends on the version of the product that is contracted.
The Standard Version has a base price of Euro 99 per month per hotel, the Advanced Version costs Euro 149 per month per hotel and the Advanced Plus Version costs Euro 199 per month.
We offer discounts based upon the volume of hotels contracted and pre-payment. We expect to be profitable by the end of Q1 2011.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Allow clients to know everything about their hotels(s), easily identify problems and to provide rapid resolution with comprehensive internal workflow functionality
- Ability to track improvements both with the industry benchmark Global Review Index and sentiment analysis covering key marketing and operational attributes
- Most complete universe of data with unmatched international coverage
- A product combines three powerful components: an easy to use web based tool, detailed email alerts and automated reports (Executive Summary, Sales & Marketing and Operations & Quality)
- Leverage our reputation analytics with clients existing data to optimize pricing and online distribution strategies
- Enable clients to increase direct bookings with social proof
- The awareness of our brand in the marketplace. In the initial phase of developing the company we focused heavily on product development and technology and dedicated very few resources on marketing.
- Limited resources to scale the business internationally as fast as the opportunity merits
- To become the global leader in online reputation and social media management in the hotel sector
- To help revolutionize hotel quality and online distribution management in the hotel sector
- To convert the Global Review Index into the industry standard benchmark for the B2B hotel sector
- That a large player in the hospitality technology solutions space launches a competitive product
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
No one doubted the potential of the business. Or at least they never told us to our faces.
The doubts related more to the challenges of executing such an ambitious project from Europe. We didn’t listen to them because we believed we had the knowledge and the right team to pull it off.
Also, we felt that being in Europe and needing to have an international focus from day one would in time prove to be a huge advantage considering the global nature of the hotel sector.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our key success metrics for the next 12 months are the total number of hotel units, number of unique clients, revenue and profit margins.
In addition, we closely measure the engagement of all users and client satisfaction with the goal of creating “raving fans”.
If we succeed in doing so we will have no problem meeting our quantitative goals over the next 12 months and beyond.
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.