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Powered by Battery  |  June 25, 2020
Is the Future of Hotels Contactless?

This season of the Powered by Battery podcast features portfolio executives representing companies from various geographies and technology sectors. The views expressed here are solely those of podcast guests, not Battery. If you’re interested in learning more about these companies, or others in the Battery portfolio, you can access more information here.

Travel and hospitality have been some of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, though they’re slowly recovering now. Venture-backed startups selling into these sectors are, in many cases, operating in unchartered waters.

We talk to the founder of one of those startups, hotel-software provider Mews*, in this episode of Powered by Battery. Mews’ founder, Czech-born Richard Valtr, comes from a family of hotel operators in Europe and has a far-reaching vision of how hotels can offer better service to customers—through technology. Valtr talked to us in late May about the tough business decisions Mews had to make earlier this year as global travel ground to a near halt, but also offered thoughts on how his company’s products can help hotels create engaging and more contactless experiences for guests in the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Economic crises force companies to make tough decisions, and executives need to respond quickly. Mews made the difficult decision in late March to shut many of the local offices it had painstakingly opened across Europe to be close to customers, which also meant laying off some staff. Now, the company has a more centralized model, operating out of Prague, London, Amsterdam and New York. But Valtr says it’s the right strategy for the current climate in which smaller companies need to put a premium on cash and reduce spending.
  • External events can also sometimes force clarity on your business model. Mews, as an example, decided recently to more-narrowly focus its sales efforts on “technology-forward, lifestyle hotels”, which Valtr says are naturally more receptive to the company’s offerings, rather than going after the entire hotel market. So far, the strategy is “resonating a lot with the market,” Valtr says.
  • Some industries use incumbent technology that may seem impenetrable—many hotels run older, on-premise software from Oracle, for instance, which requires a human to come onsite to make daily updates in a shocking amount of properties (known as the night audit). Startups shouldn’t be afraid of challenging the status quo, no matter how big and powerful the incumbent player, especially in situations in which their nimbleness will be seen as an asset.
  • Sometimes great ideas bubble up within an organization, and a flat leadership structure allows those ideas to flourish. At Mews, employees started a program to urge hotel operators to offer low-cost rooms to medical personnel who needed places to stay during the pandemic. In the end, hundreds of hotels across the Netherlands, UK, USA and most of Western Europe ended up participating and offering thousands of bed nights for essential workers and their families.

This material is provided for informational purposes, and it is not, and may not be relied on in any manner as, legal, tax or investment advice or as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any fund or investment vehicle managed by Battery Ventures or any other Battery entity. 

The information and data are as of the publication date unless otherwise noted.

Content obtained from third-party sources, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified as to its accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Battery Ventures has no obligation to update, modify or amend the content of this post nor notify its readers in the event that any information, opinion, projection, forecast or estimate included, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate.

The information above may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events or expectations. Predictions, opinions and other information discussed in this video are subject to change continually and without notice of any kind and may no longer be true after the date indicated. Battery Ventures assumes no duty to and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements.

*Denotes a Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments, please click here.

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