We wanted to organize a trip among several friends but we did not find any hotel that would like to book a group. When we located one, they gave us individual prices without taking into account the number of rooms. Nobody offered us discounts. And in many cases, they canceled our reservations without saying why. " This is what happened to Zigor Lapera, founder with Gerardo Martín, and executive director of Grouping, and his classmates. A setback that became a business project, which began 3 years ago and in 2017 saw the light.
Its objective was to set up a platform that would allow rooms to be reserved for groups, without a maximum of people or rooms (at present most webs admit up to 10 reservations and all at the same price) and, at the same time, offer activities (tickets to museums , to amusement parks …) so that, the more they will accumulate and the more number of nights they will be booked, the greater the discounts. "It did not seem logical to pay the same if you are a week or 2 days, or if you only take one room or 5". Premises that have led Grouping to battle both the traditional agencies and the on-line, applying prices between 20% and 30% cheaper if you take a package (hotel + activities) and between 5% and 20%, if you only buy the room. Discounts that also fluctuate depending on the destination and the season.
In addition, during the reservation process they offer "customized" conditions, by allowing individualized payment. "Nobody wants or can not carry the total bill of a trip, especially when there are many people." At the same time, this platform automatically generates a personalized page for each trip and buyer with all the information of the itineraries and with the proposals of the hotels: names, description, services, photographs … "In this way they can choose and consult everything related to the trip, even cancel or extend a reservation. It is 100% digitalization of the entire process. Anyone can enter and in 3 or 4 clicks have a firm offer. It is the best solution for customer loyalty and to avoid having to search for information outside of our website. "
This year will end with an income of 800,000 euros, 10 times more than in 2017
They started with an initial investment of 30,000 euros of their own money and 25,000 more than a financing line of ENISA (National Innovation Company). A few months ago they closed a round of financing of 150,000 euros with several groups, including Jesús Alonso (founder of restaurantes.com); amount of which more than 50% has been allocated to the technological development of the company.
During the first year the billing was about 70,000 euros, a figure that this year will multiply almost 10, with revenues close to 800,000. Figure that, according to the forecasts, next year could exceed 2 million. In parallel, the company has also increased its number of employees. Of 4 with which he started the journey to 10. And is that group travel is a product in full expansion, with 20% of the turnover of the tourism sector in Spain.
At the beginning of this year they have made the leap to France and want to take their idea to other markets, but always in Europe, "which is our main area of action". They also plan to add transport by plane and train, "but they are more complicated issues that need their time."
They recently launched a platform between companies for the travel agency sector. "We saw that many used our page and decided to create a version for them. In this sector the agencies had a very precarious presence with many vanishing points where customers disappeared. Until now the only alternative was to ask hotel by hotel until you find the right one. Now the agencies have a personalized offer for their client instantly or within a maximum period of 24 hours. " Currently they offer as a white label what allows agencies to offer their own logo with a digital version to their clients. "Our idea is to open the way for them in the process of digitalization, at a time when this added value is important to gain the confidence of the buyer". Today they have more than 200 clients; a new activity that will report 30% of the billing and that they intend to implement also in the French country.
They have closed a round of financing of 150,000 euros to invest in technology
During these almost two years of activity they have managed more than 3,300 trips to destinations around the world and have more than 80,000 hotels and apartments in their portfolio. Trips that have been real challenges, such as giving service to sports teams "like a darts championship in Valencia, which gathered more than 1,000 players", "biker" routes that move across Europe, groups that meet to make games of role or a community of Jewish religion, which closed a hotel to set up a conference and that included its own chefs. A network of services and possibilities that until now "was certainly complicated because the hotels were reluctant according to the type of group and the number of people". But the situation has taken a complete turn and many have been forced to relax their conditions by not filling places. The reasons are varied: from the issue of "proces" that has diminished the arrival of tourists to Catalonia or the resurgence of tourism in Arab countries, which has made 2018 not become a new record year for tourism in Spain. Reasons why they offer more competitive rates and are more open to admit groups. "Despite this, there are hotels that still have restrictions and do not accept stag or hen parties or student trips; exceptions that are notified on the web. "