We talked to Daniel Etti of Hotelshop.one on how they digitize and professionalize shopping in hotels and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniel Etti: First of all, we are all healthy. But COVID-19 has, of course, changed a lot in the private and professional environment. In the first lockdown, my girlfriend and I became dog parents, and in the second lockdown, we moved into a larger apartment with a garden.
Of course, this also has something to do with the professional changes. Since March we are working completely in-home office. As a digital company, we realized that we are as productive working from home or on the road as in an office, that’s why we decided to quit our office end of October.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Hotelshop.one.
Daniel Etti: I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. That’s why it was already clear to me during my studies that I never wanted to become an employee but rather found something. In my bachelor studies, I had already founded an advertising agency with Patrick, my cofounder.
Since our clients were mainly banks, the economic crisis in 2008 hit us so hard that we both tried our hand at other things again.
In the following two years, I did my Master’s degree in Media Management at the HDM Stuttgart and made my first experiences with 2010 Ecommerce at an online advertising agency.
It quickly became clear that we need something of our own again. And when my oldest and best friend Jannis (designer and developer) joined us, everything went very fast.
That was 6 years ago. Here, the naivety and the spirit of the startup drove us strongly. With the agency background, we didn’t want to sell man-days anymore, and so we started to be interested in scaling business models.
The goal was always to make great projects with great people that are profitable. The way to our current product was connected with many ups & downs. And we needed a total of 3 pivots to stand here now.
I would like to take you on this journey through time. Of course, the topic of eCommerce was at the top of the agenda. It all started with the “revolutionary” idea to bring my parents’ store (luggage and bags) online.
We focused the online shop on business travelers and named the online store padaja. We sold products from all known manufacturers like Joop, Samsonite or Picard and products and brands that are not available in Germany yet.
We also developed the terminal as an extended store counter. Via a tablet, the customer could buy products that were no longer available in the store.
In other words, colors or sizes. We used the Business Model Canvas to evaluate the touchpoints of our target group of business travelers – these were airports, train stations and hotels. This is where the business traveler stays and has time.
Indeed, hotels had the highest potential. So we placed the terminals in hotels and tested them for 6 months.
Here we had the essential findings that the hardware was cost-intensive and maintenance-intensive, that the end customer likes to use his own device for payment and that guests would like to buy other products like the hotel mattress.
That was the starting signal for Hotelshop.one.
How does Hotelshop.one innovate?
Daniel Etti: Just by the fact that we have hotel chains like Steigenberger or Accor as customers with Hotelshop.one, we also always try to bring our claim Experience locally – order home with life.
Meanwhile, you can search for your favorite hotel on https://www.hotelshop.one/hotelfinder and book a sample night. When you buy the mattress, the overnight stay is reimbursed.
Even if it still takes a while until the hotels open again, we will continue to expand the link to offline experience and online purchase next year.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Daniel Etti: Since our B2B customers are hoteliers, this initially hit us harder. However, we are in eCommerce at the same time, which was able to increase a lot this year.
In the first lockdown, we used the time to set up a B2B store for the hotel and restaurant industry, which was very good. This enabled us to sell special masks and air purifiers this year and make up for any losses that might have occurred.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Daniel Etti: Not so far. That great challenges also bring great opportunities.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Hotelshop.one in the future?
Daniel Etti: I go for a walk with my dog or do sports with friends. However, the pandemic has only affected us to a limited extent in terms of business.
In the future, we will meet 2 times a month in person to discuss strategies and tactics. Once a month, there will be a team event; otherwise, we work with the usual pm tools.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Daniel Etti: Our competitors in B2C are, first of all, online retailers with similar assortment (beds, mattresses, etc.).
However, these do not have the advantage that you can experience the mattress or bed. We will continue to exploit this advantage.
Your final thoughts?
Daniel Etti: Realize: you always have the choice whatever happens to you. Your head creates your world.
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