As a successful business owner we are sure that you have many employees’ travelling around the globe. This is where the tedious and time-consuming drill of finding them a good hotel begins. Searching for the right accommodation involves spending a ton of money and time. Also, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage and keep a track of these expenses. Wow! Sounds like a really complicated situation, doesn’t it?
Well to un-complicate this very process, we introduce you to LastRoom! Like it rightful represents, it is all the hotels around the world! With this app you no longer have to spend hours in arranging and booking good accommodations. That’s not all; this app has also gone a step further in providing you with excellent features for efficient expense management. With LastRoom, you can now have all your invoices in one place along with accurate data collection and reporting.
Meet The Team That Runs The Show!
LastRoom was conceptualized and co-founded by Josue Gio, Angela Cois, Julián Ceballos, Josue Camara and Jonathan Coutiño.
Josue Gio, Angela and Julian have had previous stints with entrepreneurship as they each have been co-founders of successful start-ups. Apart from this Josue is a business angel and growth hacker, Angela is an experienced marketer and PR enthusiast while Julian is a seasoned software developer and Wonka.JS Contributor.
On the other hand, Josue Camara is an expert software developer with 5 years experience as a front-end and web developer while Jonathan is a UI & UX Designer and Skech evangelist.
Together they are a team of 10 talented individuals that bring different unique ability and skill to the table. In a way each one is a unique piece of this complicated pink puzzle called LastRoom.
Know LastRoom Up Close & Personal!
This web app is a global platform of more than 400k all-budget hotels worldwide. It is the smartest travel booking portal that allows companies to set up their profiles and easily onboard their employees, With this app you can be guaranteed to save both time and money in the organization of their trips. LastRoom also aids in the task of expenses’ management by keeping all the invoices in one place.
What Problem is LastRoom Solving?
Big companies use sophisticated travel management systems provided by GDSs, such as Sabre, SAP and Amadeus. These softwares are tailored for structured organizations that are willing to spend thousands of dollars on monthly licenses and transaction fees. On the other hand, in the SMBs’ market, travel coordinators spend tons of time and money dealing with emails, phone calls and travel websites with zero control over the employee’s purchases and zero technology to simplify the expenses’ management process.
Well LastRoom is the answer to this very problem. As mentioned above it is a global platform of more than 400k all-budget hotels worldwide. This app gives the companies the power to efficiently organize their employees’ trips and better manage their travel expenses. The app combines the best deals in hotels worldwide, with a lean expense management solution and the UX of new enterprise start-ups like Slack. By January 2015, the team also plans on integrating a global flights module.
The Driving Force!
The story of LastRoom begins in Mexico in 2012, during the start-up weekend of Guadalajara, with the idea of developing a mobile app for same day hotel booking and replicating the model of Hotel Tonight in Latin America. However, during the first year of operations, the team realized that the model of the “same-day hotel booking” didn’t work as they expected.
First of all, when they launched their first MVP in December 2012, they validated their model with leisure and spontaneous travelers mainly. However, in the following months the team started identifying that 90% of the users were business travelers that used LastRoom only in very exceptional situations and emergencies such as a flight lost, or last-minute change in a scheduled meeting. The users generally didn’t show any special interest in adopting the technology on a more regular basis.
The team realized that the users needed a great and easy-to-use technology that could solve an occasional problem of looking for a last-minute accommodation during their jobs. Secondly, they also realized that in order to gain a significant position in the industry they had to focus on a specific vertical such as the one for business travelers.
“In January 2014 we started developing our new product and in September 2014 we launched our first beta during the TC Disrupt San Francisco. Now LastRoom helps companies cut their travel expenses with a cloud-based software which combines the best hotel content available on the Internet with a set of corporate control tools, such as invoices’ reconciliation, reports and real-time data”, adds the team.
On Challenges Faced & Competitors
For the team, facing the big pivot like shifting their business model from a B2C to a B2B travel solution was quite hard.
“As a team we underestimate the time and energy this big change would eventually required, since it was like starting from zero again, with a new product, a new market approach and a new vision. However, considering our great results so far, since the launch of Public Beta in September 2014, I must say that this brave decision made us stronger and most of all helped us differentiating strategically within the competitive arena of travel industry”, adds the team.
In terms of competition, the scenario is quite fragmented. On one hand there are the GDSs’ solutions that are expensive softwares tailored for big organizations with outdated UX & UI. On the other hand, there are B2C tools like Expensify or TripIt that simplify the reporting task, or the itinerary planning, but force the travelers to use other platforms to book a hotel. Finally, there are also the OTAs that offer great deals but lack the most basic control tools like invoices’ recollection or data.
However, based on these considerations, LastRoom has an edge above all its potential competitors. It is a lean and affordable travel solution that could really unify this fragmented landscape. Unlike all the existent travel management platforms, this app is 100% free software. Also, the UX and UI is quite far from an enterprise software as the team wanted it to be the Slack of the business travel solutions. Further, LastRoom provides companies with leisure rates that are not available on GDSs’ systems.
On Expansion Plans & Target Audience
“We’re going to start the fundraising process in January 2015 and the plan is to first consolidate and scale the markets of Mexico and USA. The following year we wish to launch in Europe, starting with UK. LastRoom, at the moment is the first lean and affordable travel solution tailored for companies of any size. In the future, we also want to integrate other basic travel services (taxis, low cost carriers, trains and much more) that is quite hard to find in a GDS platform”, says the team.
This app’s main target audience is the Mexican and US SMBs with an average of 10 to 60 travelers and an average volume of 500 to 5,000 nights booked per year. The main industries identified by the team as a potential target market are IT, Financial and Legal, Business Consultants and Education.
Lastly, every app needs to have revenue generation for sustenance and growth. The team wished to monetize by sharing revenue with hotels and content providers (Expedia, Booking and other B2B local providers). The average taken is 8% per booking generated.
To sum it all up, with LastRoom business no longer have to spend a lot of time and money in their employees’ travel. This app is their best bid to find hotels worldwide and have their invoices in one place for efficient expense management.
For more information on the app, do make it a point to visit: www.lastroom.com