Imagine a world where there are only two kinds of shops:
- Huge Hypermarkets where you can buy everything.
- Very small dirty shops down the road where it’s a pain to buy anything.
I’m in Bali right now and I get both.
Whenever I need something I grab my bike and go to a small shop.
It’s not the smoothest experience but I usually get what I need. Well, almost (I am never sure I paid the right price though).
When I need to buy a lot of stuff I start a one-hour-each-way journey to the Carrefour.
It’s a shocking experience (which my wife loves) because I am in Bali and I shouldn’t be in a Carrefour. Or a Starbucks or a McDonalds.
The moment I enter the mall, I feel somebody is drying up my soul.
I am in Bali. It’s magic. A moment later I am in a shopping mall and I could be anywhere in the world and see exactly the same things (except the Durian).
I am nowhere. Lost in a non-place.
I am, usually, sad and nervous and end up drinking some shitty supposedly italian espresso working on my new MacBook Air and waiting for my wife to savour her shopping experience.
But why I am writing it in this blog?
Well, because this is exactly where we stand right now in the online accommodation industry: it’s either the big guys (booking.com, expedia etc..) or the little guys.
What’s the problem with that?
The big guys:
Efficient with no soul.
Easy to search and easy to reserve. Smooth, safe, a lot of choice. They even have the ratings. But I am in a Carrefour and if I need some advice or I am looking for something in particular I am lost.
More on this later.
The small guys:
Warm and human but not efficient.
Well, their websites are just unusable.
We hang around because we feel we are dealing directly, so we may get a better price. But even if we get it, it’s so time consuming that it often is just not worth it.
Those websites are NOT user friendly, to say the least. I won’t dig into this too much. I used to create and maintain these kind of websites, and I am guilty too. Sorry users, that’s what we managed to do. We really were not experts in software. We rented apartments.
So, what is missing here?
The specialized shops.
Suppose you are a family with a 8 months old baby.
You want an apartment in Paris with at least a baby cot and a baby chair (…and many more things, but you are already lowering your expectations).
So, off you go to one of the Big Guys and…you get a list of 450 available apartments. Great choice eh? Well, not so great since you have to filter them out. The Advanced Search helps, but only to a point because the owners did not really take the time to fill in all the details.
Get ready for a lot of work.
Hey, but why don’t you search for the apartments directly in Google?
So, you find some websites containing random words such as “paris, apartments, baby cot” and out of the 450.000 results, the first 10 are not relevant to you and the only one which seems Ok is an apartment website: no clear prices, no availability, no map. You have to send an email and wait.
Now, what if there was a website called ApartmentsForFamilies.com and there you could only find selected apartments with a list of details showing: baby cot, baby chair, toys, books for children…and whatever a modern western family with a kid needs (an unbelievably amount of stuff). Wouldn’t you go there?
And what if there was a Manager, the owner of the website who has children of his own, selected the apartments and can give you specialized assistance on that? Each apartment with clear pricing, calendar of availabilities, reservation system etc..?
I mean: just apartments for families. Stop.
Wouldn’t that be great?
Well, that’s what we are working on. We are building a pool of apartments around the world and anyone can join us to become a Manager, pick up a niche, select some apartments, buy a domain name and start a new business offering a specialized service for families with children, gays, young people, stag parties, romantic couples, bikers, groups and so many more I won’t even start here because this post is getting too long. There’s much more to say and I will in the next weeks.
Thanks for reading.