The right mix of local knowledge and technology

last summer days in Prague on Riegrovy sady

I’ve arrived in Prague on Tuesday and I already had the chance to meet a few Owners.
One of the main reasons I started this trip around Eastern Europe is to understand what’s going on.

Before I dig into it, I’d like to kind of “save for later” the perception I have now about the market situation, as I am pretty sure I will learn so much that in a few weeks it will be very very different.

So, how do I see it right now?

1) The Big Players invaded the market and they are here to stay. I am talking about the various Homelidays, Booking, Only-Apartments, Airbnb, Wimdu etc..let’s admit they had a pretty easy job fighting the local players with much better websites and a trusted name.

2) The Small Owners (1 to 10 apartments) simply realized that now the reservations come from the big websites and not so much from the small ones anymore. The smart Owners, those who understand the power of the Ratings and are ready to adapt to it, will survive. The others will suffer.

3) The Big Owners (10 to 100 apartments) have to rely more and more on the Big Players to keep occupancy high. Or they have to spend much more on Adwords and other marketing efforts. All this while taking care of all the customers. Sometimes it may be too much.

I ask myself constantly the same question: is it all lost for the locals? Is Roomorama or HouseTrip the perfect way to reserve a place for a customer?

I don’t know. I see something immensely important missing.
These websites treat customers like McDonalds treat theirs:

I’ll give you a smooth experience (usable website | easy to order food) and a feeling of safety (pay to me as I am a well known name  | McDonald’s brand) as long as you agree to eat an hambuger and be happy with that.

Customers may instead contact a local Manager and get a much better deal: a nice fillet for the same price of the hamburger.

What do I mean by that?
Local Knowledge and presence of a person who lives in Prague, knows Prague, loves Prague and is able to suggest the best possible apartments for that customer in terms of location, features, price and so on.

The Local Manager will always do a much better job than an algorithm in matching the needs of the customer and the apartments characteristics.
Humans are better in this.

Just an example:

we met an italian Owner last night and we discussed the possibility to cooperate on Appartamenti-a-praga.com, a website with Prague apartments whose Owners speak italian. 
It’s just an experiment for now, we won’t really push it until we have a local italian person in Prague who can take care of it.

Then, this morning, incredibly we got a request in Praguecheapflats.com with this message (in Italian):

We would like to communicate in Italian as we don’t know other languages

the timing was incredible, right? :)
How would Booking.com deal with that?

So, with a Local Manager we can serve customers who are not ready for the pre-packaged deal done via a website where you either reserve instantly (no communication) or need to talk to all the owners.

We want to have a dedicated person for every website and this person (the Manager) will take care of each customer as a human being, not a number.

What we’re looking for is the perfect balance of local knowledge (Manager) and technology (the Adormo platform).

I see huge opportunities in this and if you see them too, we should meet in Prague this or next week. Write me at [email protected]

4 thoughts on “The right mix of local knowledge and technology”

  1. doubts.
    did you consider costs for providing all ‘local’ information (you consider that a sort of competitive advantage compared to your competitors, do you?) to clients/tourists? (i.e competitors have 15% commission just for renting. You get 15% for renting and for providing a lot of thinks more, referring to where to eat, where to go, what to visit, local amusements, transportations, airport connection, local festivals etc…a huge amount of information normally up to touristic agencies or tourist offices. I understand the local manager could also do it ‘driven by passion’, but how can you really serve a fillet at the cost of an hamburger? In other words: how can a new manager of yours earn as a competitor’s manager since he works double or triple?
    How can have a fillet at the cost of an hamburger when the fillet is three times the hamburger?

    1. pretty simple: they do this already.
      In Prague local agencies have been giving this service to their guests for years.
      I am not trying to teach them how to work, they know this better than me.

      But many customers still prefer to reserve via “foreign” websites because they are much easier to use (true) and they trust them (rightly).
      This is exactly what happens when the average tourist decides to have a MacMenu in Wenceslas Square instead of walking 5 minutes to the other side of the National Museum to Vinohrady where there are many great, I really mean great, bars/cafe’ and restaurants for the same price.

      There is a lot of hidden value in this.

  2. The apartment managers and owners will do well no matter what the big ones do as the market is growing as more people choose apartments instead of hotels. Wins the one with the right strategy and the one who doesn’t panic :)

  3. A year after this article I can say I agree with you. To apartment managers and owners the trick is to find the right channels and reservations simply keep coming. I met some who did not adapt and suffered, but most are doing really well. It’s a good business to be in right now.

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