We talked to Alex Cheng, founder at Telkie about the best deals which are always private, direct, and personalised and here is what he said about them.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alex Cheng: We are very lucky to be in Hong Kong during this pandemic – every team member at Telkie and their family are extremely blessed to be well and healthy. We have adopted a WFH policy to make sure each and every employee is protected. Although we all miss seeing familiar faces at the office, it is best to keep a distance and move everything to Zoom!
How does Telkie innovate?
Alex Cheng: We would almost describe Telkie’s evolution as fast-adapting, and the way we used to innovate stems from a deep-rooted yet unknowing issue all hotels night find themselves constantly battling, which is namely the surging commission to OTAs and the absence of autonomy in room reservations. The traditional and automated way of booking hotels is without a doubt efficient and hassle-free for end users, but in this time of chaos and disorder, we began to find hotels in an even stickier situation, where customers’ enquiries are no longer about whether continental breakfast is included in the room rate or is a hairdryer provided. Confused guests are now concerned about quarantine packages, something completely unheard of before 2020. Since then, we have realised Telkie’s full potential in giving a hand to hotels as a digital solution, which connects end users with hotels directly and privately. We have also been continuously improving our product to be better suited for hotel use. Therefore, I’d say Telkie innovates by rapidly adapting to world trends by constantly evolving into something better, stronger, and more useful without neglecting sustainability.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Alex Cheng: It hasn’t caused any catastrophic impact on our finances, but we are definitely noticing impacts from growing hesitations on the hotel side. Due to closures and restrictions, hotels are running low on marketing development resources, where, unfortunately, digital solutions are a huge part of. Marketing departments are counting every penny and are meticulous about where they allocate their budget, so even though our services can help alleviate their challenges, they can’t help but be apprehensive whether to commit to a service. Since we adopt a performance-based approach in payment and offer free trials, it has been evident that hotels tend to negotiate for a longer free trial period, which has brought impact on our finances, but not enough to be a cause for concern.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alex Cheng: Yes, we had to make a difficult decision to let go of one of the employees in the sales department and seek a replacement. Since working remotely has caused enough inconvenience to the team, it is important that each member pulls their own weight and takes ownership of their work. We are never a believer in micro-management, and we pride ourselves on the trust and autonomy we give each other. As a team, the lesson we learned here is that communication and transparency are key, especially during these difficult times.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alex Cheng: We understand that virtual meetings will never be able to replace those in real life. When information overloads, sometimes it is hard to get your message across(not to mention the endless technical difficulties and ‘i think you’re muted’ being said) – staying true to our value, which is direct communication, we are trying our hardest to stay connected with our customers as frequently and as closely as possible over Zoom or even with phone calls. We organise our database on Pipedrive on a daily basis to make sure it is always up-to-date in order to enhance our efficiency in operations. We’d endeavour to be organised at all times to eliminate any confusion that can potentially slow down our progress.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Alex Cheng: We did receive some help from the Hong Kong government, which helped pay our employees’ salaries for a good few months. Ultimately, it was the team that has significantly been keeping Telkie afloat – working from home is not easy, and to make matters worse, discouraging news about travel restrictions seem to be increasing every day, to have a team that strives for excellence and are passionate about our own product is a huge blessing.
Your final thoughts?
Alex Cheng: Don’t let technology put you off – it is incredibly important to stay connected during these times. For an organisation to run smoothly takes consistent communication, where transparency is crucial. Ensure the team understands the need to keep each other updated on Zoom and keep bouncing ideas off on Slack. Is everyone aware of the meeting agenda this afternoon? Have a look at Asana. Technologies are here to assist, not to hinder our work.