Bidroom is a subscription-based travel platform that gives members discounts of up to 25 per cent on hotel stays. Globetrender speaks with co-founder Michael Ros about how Netflix inspired him to take on the big online travel agents.
What is Bidroom?
Bidroom is the world’s first membership-based hotel booking platform with no commissions. Hotels on the platform connect with an international audience without the need to pay booking commissions to online travel agents (OTAs). Meanwhile, customers using Bidroom get up to 25 per cent off stays at more than 120,000 properties in 128 countries.
When did it launch?
Bidrooom launced in beta in 2014, in the Hague, Netherlands, from an office set inside what used to be a national bank.
What inspired you to build the company?
The conversations I have had with hoteliers. I used to work in a Dutch travel agency where they were my customers. Over the years, booking commissions have been a fundamental problem for the hospitality industry.
At the time, I was eagerly studying the sustainability of subscription businesses like Netflix and Spotify. Many key players pointed to the fact that the subscription economy will be on a roll for years to come.
Looking at the hotel booking sphere, where I had significant experience, I asked myself if a commission-free hotel platform would be a compelling sales channel. The foundation of our model consists of solutions that hoteliers have been hoping for: no commissions, a private environment for pricing flexibility, no brand-jacking and transparent partnership rules.
To form a thriving travel community for Bidroom, I asked hoteliers for exclusive room discounts that they could afford due to the lack of commission payments. A majority of them prefer to provide for their guests rather than give a cut to one of the big OTAs.
Who are you targeting?
Two groups. Frequent travellers who book hotels at least three times a year and hoteliers who would like to access an international audience through a commission-free booking platform.
What problem was it setting out to solve?
Bidroom was founded with a mission to make the hotel booking industry fair for both travellers and hotels. Underneath that seemingly simple concept of online booking, there’s a cloud of problems that hurt both groups.
Two such problems shaped Bidroom the most. One – booking commissions drastically limit a hotel’s earnings, so we got rid of that.
Two – travelers are tired of wasting time to find the best room price, so we designed the technology that always guarantees them the best rate to be found online. These two solutions become possible under the membership-model that Bidroom brought to the market.
How is it innovative?
The subscription economy has been steadily expanding for nearly a decade now. Uber started with ridesharing in 2010. Bidroom launched as a subscription service for hotel booking in 2014, becoming the first company to explore this market under a novelty business model.
With a membership-based system, we’re able to offer our customer base what they want, which is also what big OTAs are missing. Travellers are granted guaranteed hotel prices with discounts of up to 25 per cent and hoteliers working with Bidroom avoid losing revenue to third parties.
How does it actually work?
Travellers register with Bidroom, choosing one of three plans. It might be for a month (€3), a year (€29), or for life (€99) with a one-time payment.
Using the search engine to look for properties is simple. The big difference with the platform is that the prices that the users see in the results list are always cheaper than on OTAs.
How many hotels do you have in your network?
There’s more than 120,000 hotels and apartments in 128 countries to choose from. We’re also exploring partnerships with world’s biggest hotel chains to boost that.
How much money can people save on a typical stay?
The average saving for a one-night stay is €34.
Why do you think a subscription model is the way to go?
The subscription economy is the future, as it allows people to access quality services at affordable rates.
What are your plans for growth?
We expect that in two to three years, over 300,000 hotels will be on our platform, we will have a user base of over one million people, and we’ll have a team of about 200 people in three or four offices.