We talked to Itai Marcipar, CEO and co-founder of Pruvo about saving money on already booked hotel reservations and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Itai Marcipar: Thank god everyone is safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pruvo.
Itai Marcipar: Prior to Pruvo (and till today), I have an IT support business. Back in 2015, I was planning a trip and booked a few hotels on Booking.com. A few weeks before traveling, I wanted to upgrade some of the rooms, so I entered Booking.com and noticed that almost half of the hotel rooms I booked were actually cheaper at that moment. So I teamed up with my good friend from the University, Regev Brody. We started Pruvo, a service to help travelers make sure they NEVER unnecessarily overpay for their hotel reservations.
How does Pruvo innovate?
Itai Marcipar: We started by innovating how travelers book hotels (from only focusing on prices before making the booking to using Pruvo to monitor prices AFTER they book). Now, we took the same approach and applied it to travel companies in order to help them increase hotel booking profitability for hotel reservations they already sold.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Itai Marcipar: Just like all travel companies, we have been affected as well. Luckily, we manage a very lean startup, so expenses are low. Plus, we took advantage of this time to expand our B2B service for travel companies. This turned out to be a great move since many companies suddenly had the time on hand to implement innovations like Pruvo.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Itai Marcipar: We actually hired during this period of time. We chose to focus on expanding our Business Development and development team in order to use this time to onboard as many companies as possible. That said, we also had to furlough and let go of some people for different reasons, which is never an easy task, especially during such complicated times.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Itai Marcipar: I wouldn’t say that our customer relationship management necessarily evolved, but here is what did happen. From the beginning, we emphasize excellent customer support – 24/7 support in multiple languages, all inquiries get replies within less than 24 hours, etc. So, when travel companies suddenly stopped replying to distressed companies or didn’t honor their request to refund, customers started to really appreciate the service we have been providing since 2016 since we kept the same level of service throughout the entire pandemic.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Itai Marcipar: We received a very small grant of less than $2000. Needless to say, we couldn’t rely on this to keep afloat.
Your final thoughts?
Itai Marcipar: Managing a startup is a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes this roller coaster throws obstacles at you that were not foreseen, such as pandemics, needs to pivot, etc. That said, it is extremely satisfying to see your brainchild convert into a tool that is used to help people save millions of dollars and help companies increase profitability by millions of dollars.
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