We talked to Yannis Moati of HotelsByDay on how they’re optimizing hotel inventory and the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Yannis Moati: Good. Thank you. We have had a few cases in the family, but all asymptomatics. Thank you.
And how are your family and friends?
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded HotelsByDay.
Yannis Moati: I was a travel agent witnessing that my guests wanted an increased amount of flexibility in their hotel bookings. Yet, hoteliers with hundreds of rooms unoccupied during the day would still refuse the business as they had no technology and protocol to absorb flexibility of daytime hourly bookings without impacting the overnight business. I quit my job in 2014, gathered a founding team together and launched HotelsByDay.com in 2015, with just 12 hotels. We now have over 1700 hotels onboarded and listed.
How does HotelsByDay innovate?
Yannis Moati: We basically optimize daytime real estate at hotels, and nobody else does that. Think about it: a hotel is a heavy cost structure to build & operate, and the costs are being absorbed solely with nighttime demand. While the daytime structure isn’t monetized at all. Yet, plenty of guests want to daycation or work from a hotel all day. HotelsByDay provides this extra layer of demand for a hotel with powerful technology and protocols so that the hotel can easily manage daytime and nighttime business.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Yannis Moati: Badly. We were down 82% at the height of the pandemic. We’re still down today, but just 30% instead of the more traditional nighttime booking services that are still down 50%, which shows that our V shape recovery is quicker and stronger than regular hotel demand, mostly thanks to the Work From Hotel demand, which essentially is booking a private Work Lounge at a hotel, to escape the stress of working from home.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Yannis Moati: Furloughing staff keeps on being the most difficult decision to make. One never gets used to letting people go for no fault of their own.
As for the lessons: measure twice, cut once!
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and HotelsByDay in the future?
Yannis Moati: I deal with stress and anxiety by reminding myself that I should be grateful for everything that we have done and built and that we have around us, most of which the hoteliers that keep blessing us with their trust and guests that keep booking with us. It’s just phenomenal to have created a business model out of thin air, that is now generating millions of dollars of extra revenues for our partner hoteliers.
As for the future, HotelsByDay will keep pushing the hospitality industry to evolve and move with its times. Stay tuned for big news in 2021.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Yannis Moati: Everyone and everything that enables a guest to work & play all day at is some kind of a competitor of ours. But I don’t know of a platform that is particularly apt at doing both as good as HotelsByDay is.
Your final thoughts?
Yannis Moati: That entrepreneurship is possibly the hardest job out there, with no guarantee whatsoever. It will deplete you physically and mentally but will grow your heart & passion exponentially. Definitely worth a try for the unconventionalists. And lastly, do not compare yourself with anyone else’s trajectory out there. It’s the most toxic thing you can do. Just focus on personal growth and improvements.
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