Want Me Get Me pulls back the velvet rope on VIP hotel stays
Aspiring VIPs take notice: Want Me Get Me is a new boutique and luxury hotel booker that promises to deliver VIP perks at no additional cost to members.
Founded in February 2011 with a team of 4, WMGM has realized one fundamental thing about travel: VIP is better, and people love perks. So they’ve promised to “upgrade your travel” by adding perks as a new piece of information in the booking process.
Prefer free breakfast? Rather have two cocktails upon arrival or a bottle of wine in-room? How about a guaranteed room upgrade, valet parking, or a spa credit? All of these options are available, and members can sort according to their preferred perks.
Beyond the add-in perks, members always receive VIP list treatment, free WiFi and a room upgrade where available. So simply booking on the site, guests will be guaranteed a somewhat upgraded experience. Of course, it doesn’t mention if said hotels already had free WiFi or as-available room upgrades, but users can still work through the selection of hotels by toggling certain perks and searching accordingly.
While certainly not offering the cheapest room rates, this service is sure to find traction amongst a well-heeled, status-seeking cohort, especially given the popularity of similar high-end bookers like Mr & Mrs Smith and Jetsetter.
Initial inventory is in San Francisco, New York City, Miami and LA, and includes properties from the likes of Ace Hotel, Gansevoort Hotel Group, Luxe Worldwide Hotels, Morgans Hotel Group, The Peninsula Hotels, Raffles Hotels and Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, The Standard, Thompson Hotels, and Trump Hotel Collection, among others.
End-of-year growth plans point to an expansion into other “gateway” cities across the US, with larger cities in Canada and Mexico being targeted in early 2013.
WMGM takes a commission per booked room, and as they’ve built their own technology, the company says their rate is lower than the OTAs and thus a more competitive positioning opportunity for their member hotels.
A Q&A with Tristan Mace, the Chief Strategy Officer:
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?
Want Me Get Me is the first hotel booking site to embrace travelers who don’t view hotels as commodities. Most travelers want real value —an upgraded room on a top floor, Wi-Fi, and to be recognized with VIP List status — and now they can when booking with Want Me Get Me.
We recognize the large need and desire from the consumer base at large that desires an upgrade experience when they travel, and there are very few sites that empower users to have such a great experience on both the booking side and the check-in side.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Anyone who is interested in receiving a better experience for the standard rate should use Want Me Get Me to book their hotel. There is no membership fee to join and it is truly a win-win in the customer’s favor.
We’re building it more as a lifestyle company for people that want that upgraded VIP experience when they travel. It’s a simple solution for individuals to automatically be upgraded and have a great experience.
What we’ve been able to do is to build an instantaneous product that does not rely on inventory – it’s all real-time pulled from the GDS with room rates. We are able to integrate that into our proprietary extranet that hotels can log into and choose what amenities to offer the members.
We’ve focused on making a product that pushes the boundaries of what currently exists: for example, the page does not have to load or refresh. It will give you a notice of how many seconds results will load. We’ve tried to go into a direction that integrates travel and technology, and for the first time you see a startup that is not only beneficial for a user but also for the hotels too.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
Strategic partnerships and promotions are vital to both raising awareness about Want Me Get Me and driving bookings for our hotel partners.
Most of the research shows that in luxury e-commerce and travel, mobile is typically used for discovery or informational, so with that in mind we built the website first and then down the line we will do the mobile app and have a fully responsive website [to attract customers].
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
We have already signed more than 200 luxury, boutique and lifestyle hotel partners like the Ace Hotel, The Peninsula and The Standard, and take this as a testament that others within the industry share our vision to provide an upgraded travel experience for more travelers.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
As the saying goes, “patience is a virtue” and nowhere is that more relevant than when starting a business. When you are trying build and execute an entire approach to hotel booking, development is difficult and everything takes much longer than you want it to or even can even anticipate.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
The travel industry as a whole has made great strides embracing certain technological advances but there are still areas that are quite antiquated and do not fit the lifestyles of most modern, discerning travelers.
By us taking a lower commission [in our business model], it’s beneficial to the hotel so they can have some wiggle room to deliver a great experience to our members. Ultimately we’ve just worked to where it’s a financially advantageous model for the hotels to participate in, and its free for members to join. This delivers better value across all channels and yields us the best opportunity in the market.
Building a hotel booking engine from scratch is no simple feat, so Want Me Get Me has certainly put a lot of time and effort into the product. The interface is sleek, the navigation straightforward. It’s interesting to play around with the perks and see which hotel might offer multiple perks rather than just one that most hotels are offering.
The process is also an “indicator of cool:” these boutique hotels are some of the most coveted among modern, well-informed hotel-loving travelers, and fits right into WMGM’s target demographic.
The inventory issue is the biggest hurdle – how can WMGM sign enough hotels to make it a one-stop shop for the discerning traveler looking for a hotel?
And regarding that discerning traveler, is there enough product here to make WMGM their first stop when they’re looking to book a hotel? Can the company build a community that swears by the product’s perks?
It remains to be seen how the traveler will react to the service, whether perks as the primary factor in booking is enough of a differentiator, and whether the business can scale.
The team has a solid roster of advisors and investors behind it, so that’s most definitely acces to perspective, support and knowledge. We’ll be watching as they move from the initial beta with additional functionality, and see what sort of community coalesces around the concept.
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Nick Vivion was a senior reporter for Tnooz from August 2012 to July 2015.