Startup pitch: All the rooms in all the world – that’s the promise of this new accommodation search engine
An accommodation search engine that has all the rooms in all the world – that’s the promise of new travel startup called AllTheRooms.
This includes not just hotels, but other paid accommodations like hostels, opaque deals from Hotwire.com, and Airbnb listings. Free options are also included, as the startup truly attempts to make all the world’s bookable room inventory searchable.
The company calls itself “The world’s first and only complete accommodation search engine,” and they are certainly off to a comprehensive start with their initial cities.
After entering destination and date, users are presented with a tabbed list of all available inventory in that particular location.
There are also sliders for price, alongside rating and amenity selections and the ability to set an address and only see spaces that are a certain distance from that location – especially useful for weddings, conferences or other event-related accommodation searches.
This is indeed a different take on the concept of accommodation search, so read on for the company’s Vine and the Tnooz Q&A with co-founder William Beckler.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
I love to travel and I bring my family all over the world. We have no permanent address.
There’s no good search engine for finding places to stay, if you’re open to more than just hotels. That’s why we created AllTheRooms, which aggregates every type of accommodations, including hotels, Airbnb, vacation rentals, secret deals like Hotwire, hostels, and even free options. We are the only search engine that has all of these things.
Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?
I was formerly known as “The General” at Travelocity, and now I’m the CTO and CMO of AllTheRooms.
My long time friend Joe DiTomaso, of Morgan Stanley and Macquarie, is now COO and CFO of AllTheRooms. At the moment we have two genius developers based in Medellin.
What is your estimation of market size?
The overall metasearch market has been valued in the tens of billions, given the recent sky high valuations of Kayak ($1.8B), Trivago ($1B) and Skyscanner ($800M). Accommodations, not flights, produce most of metasearch’s profits.
Please describe your current competitive landscape.
We are up against the companies mentioned above plus Google and Tripadvisor. However, none of these guys has really gone after the concept of “completeness,” not even Google. They are one of the worst in travel, as they make it almost impossible to find nonpaying partners in their hotels results.
What is your revenue model and strategy for profitability?
We have affiliate deals with most of our partners already, and we expect more to come on board. However, we intend to show everything that’s out there, whether we have an affiliate deal or not. This is what makes our product unique, and it is how we will differentiate ourselves from every other metasearch site out there.
What problem does the business solve?
We save hours of work for the savvy traveler who likes to see everything before deciding where to stay.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
We expected we would be revolutionizing the way metasearch results are displayed, with wacky new designs like Hipmunk has. However, customers preferred our clean versions of standard accommodations results page layouts rather than any of our radical new layout ideas.
Why should people or companies use the business?
There is no other site in the world that aggregates opaque deals, Airbnb, vacation rentals, hotels, and even the cancellation aftermarket (like Roomer and Hall St).
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
We are using long-tail opportunities in Google Adwords, and we are targeting travellers who are searching in sold-out cities, where our alternatives are especially valuable. Our mainstream competitors don’t make money on those concepts so it’s low hanging fruit.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
We will have the world’s most comprehensive accommodations listings, with thousands of providers. As we expand along this dimension we will face a new kind of maintenance challenge, as nobody has tried this before.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Today, metasearch companies follow the same set of unwritten rules: only show content from paying providers, only use APIs (not scrapers), optimize for revenue per visitor. We are breaking all three of these rules with the real aim of optimizing for customer happiness. This is how we will win loyal customers away from the more established competitors
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?
We take our inspiration from Google. When they started out, search engines were taking money for paid ranking. Google instead optimized for quality of results, and created one of the world’s most valuable companies. However, in the travel vertical, Google has missed this opportunity, leaving it for us to be the Google of accommodations.
There could indeed be a significant opportunity in full room inventory search. Especially as travelers are more open to different types of hospitality – such as hotels and Airbnbs – the ability to compare these different experiences according to location, price and other information becomes especially useful.
For example, a traveler might like to know that a boutique hotel is available at a similar price as an Airbnb – and this comparison information would not be available if said traveler was only searching on Airbnb’s website. This expands the concept of “accommodation search” and allows for a more broad data set to be included in the decision making process.
Similar to what PadMapper has done for the apartment hunting process, AllTheRooms could indeed change the way a certain cohort (especially Millennials) searches for accommodations prior to traveling.
Nick Vivion is a writer and strategist. He was a Tnooz reporter and global events lead between August 2012 and July 2015. He was the launch co-founder of Booty's, a global street food restaurant in New Orleans and was recently AVP Operations, North America, at Zomato.