Interview: Evan Davies from the Booking Factory
We speak to Evan Davies, the founder of the Booking Factory, about how he came up with his start-up, what he’s had to do to get it up and running and how it benefits his customers, among other things.
The Booking Factory, founded in 2014, is a hotel booking platform aimed at making things easier for both hoteliers and their guests.
TD: How did you come up with the Booking Factory?
ED: As a hotel manager in a small independent hotel for years, I was having many problems and frustrations with the way things were going in my industry. I saw online bookings rise year on year, but they were mostly coming in from the booking websites that saw commission bills in the thousands each month.
It’s painful to pay thousands to booking websites when you’re in a town with 5-6 places to stay. I’d say roughly that the booking websites would take away £10,000 – £20,000 from our small town alone just to let people book online.
I found it extremely difficult to try to stop it. Most hotels have online booking on their website, which would give them a commission free experience, but consumers didn’t book there – instead preferring the safety and convenience of their usual booking website.
There were hundreds of software tools to help run and sell rooms online but nothing that really helped with increasing direct bookings. This was up to each hotel to manage, and they were not doing it. The booking factory was born to help small hoteliers to get more bookings, save money and automate marketing on their website without any technical knowledge of coding or computers.
TD: What did you need to do to get it up and running?
ED: I’ve always loved computers and previously completed a computer science degree in Portsmouth, but I could not code. However, because I knew exactly what I wanted, I had the vision of what the software would do, how it would work and what results it would generate and more importantly had the passion to persevere and push through any obstacles.
The next steps were to work in my spare time to draw up the application as a wireframe, list out its features and functions and borrow a decent sum of money to hire a developer. Currently, I’m looking to launch around October 2015 but am looking now for early adopters to use parts of the software.
TD: How does it benefit your customers?
ED: Small hoteliers are overworked, and their expertise isn’t with digital things like websites, conversions, design and booking engines. There are already companies out there that’ll take over this role, but they cost a fortune and provide a bespoke service.
Our tool helps in a more automated way. We provide a new modern website that helps hotels achieve better Google rankings, faster loading and secure hosting. Then there are many options we provide, such as online booking, membership programs, room management and other technical things.
An example of how we work differently is with special offers and packages. Customers are able to add a holiday package and upload a picture and the description of the offer and certain rules on how to book. Then the package is instantly available to book online and is also available on the website to view by potential guests. The normal way of working would mean the hotelier needs to change the website themselves to add the package, and that’s a huge pain.
TD: What’s it like working from a co-working space?
ED: The Swansea Techhub has been a great asset. Currently, I’m only using the space one day per week, but as the software comes closer to the launch date, I’ll soon need a permanent desk. The most important part of the co-working space is the other members, the connections, the ideas and just talking to people about your idea and listening to theirs.
TD: What are your plans for the future?
ED: My plans for the future are to get the application finished, work closely with the first 10 customers and make a difference. Then I’ll have enough data to create a case study on how we help and by how much the plan is to grow and help more and more hotels with their pains.