Business Technology

Thursday 28 August 2014

Hot Hotels: Irish start-up app to stay in Spain after $1m funding boost

Irish start-up staying in Spain, a hotbed of tourism

Adrian Weckler

Published 10/04/2014 | 02:30

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The Hot Hotels app logo
Co-founder Joe Haslam is tapping into a tourism powerhouse

An Irish startup has revealed that it has received $1m (€730,000) in funding for its same-day hotel booking app, Hot Hotels.

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The company, which has almost 4,000 hotels signed up to its service and typically offers late-booking discounts of up to 50pc, was founded by Conor O'Connor, Joe Haslam, pictured Adelaida Muriel and José Fernández.

But instead of choosing any of the silicon docks or digital hubs springing up around Dublin, Hot Hotels decided to operate from Spain. Why?

"Spain is a tourism powerhouse," said co-founder Joe Haslam, also a professor at the IE Business School in Madrid.

"It's the third most visited country in the world after the US and France.

Spain has a very efficient data collection system for rooms that are booked or vacant.

It's also a place to attract talent. We can attract developers from places like the Czech Republic, Israel and Argentina who are attracted by the lifestyle in Marbella, meaning 350 days of sunshine."

What about relocating to Ireland?

"We talked to Enterprise Ireland about their 'Start In Ireland' programme and relocating back," he said.

"We may still do this in the future, mainly because US investors in a Series A or Series B round will want the incorporation documentation in English and company law subject to common law systems compatible with England."

So far, the business is going well.

"We have access to well over 5,000 rooms but we don't load the expensive ones or the budget options," said Haslam. "We concentrate on our sweet spot which is to sell a $150 room for $80."

The funding comes from an assortment of private investors, accelerators funds and Axon Partners, which specialises in funding businesses in emerging markets such as India and South America.

What do Hot Hotels plan to use the $1m (€730,000) for?

"We have to make our back-end code scalable and cut out manual intervention.

"We also want some of the Latin America growth story. So we will open an office in Colombia and connect to the half a billion getting $50 smartphones and 4G LTE."

Hot Hotels' main competition is Hotel Tonight, a US-based same-day hotel-booking service which is aggressively rolling out its services throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

"Our business is still focused on European travellers," said Haslam.

"In countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, we sell to travellers who know the app from Europe.

"We don't advertise locally or get very many locals booking there."

ADRIAN WECKLER

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