Tim Hentschel is the CEO of HotelPlanner.com, probably the most important traveling booking platform you haven’t heard of.
Tim’s platform handles billions in transactions a year, powering all the booking sites you know.
Altogether, HotelPlanner provides group travel technology expertise to over 4.2M group event planners while servicing $7B in group hotel booking requests in 2017.
(They expect $10B in 2018.)
Since launching in 2003—bootstrapped (the way we like it, WealthGANG)—Tim has raised money, paid back investors, scaled the platform to billions in transactional value.
And as of this year, he’s also won Cornell University’s award as Hospitality Innovator of the year, taking the prize from Lyft CEO, John Zimmer.
This is his story.
HotelPlanner.com was an idea birthed from frustration with inefficiency.
“There was a huge pain point in rate procurement process for groups,” he says. “It would take days, sometimes weeks, to get an answer.”
“A sales manager would ask you where your place of work is, all of the details about your contact information. They will come back and continue to keep asking and asking until they give you a rate,” Hentschel explains.
Like a true entrepreneur, Hentschel was able to simplify the group booking process. “We just ask where you are going, what your budget is, the dates and the number of rooms.”
And boom, the business was born.
Next thing you know, Hentschel and co-founder John Prince scored a bevy of Q-rated clients like Best Western, AT&T, and Walmart.
Flipping the model
Despite the simplicity of the process, the business model is quite unique. Hentschel says the site launched on the back of an uncommon financial engineering decision.
What it effectively does is enable a reverse auction process—permitting hotels to bid on travel groups.
Whatever the occasion, the users can submit their requirements like the number of rooms needed (with a minimum of 9+ rooms per night) and the dates, and companies will compete to get the business.
Thus ensuring the best rate for the group.
Better yet, the brand has partnered with lots of affiliates like Orbitz, Kayak, Travelocity, Hotwire, Priceline, helping them tap into an expansive user base.
The process is extremely simple, and leaves no room for extra hassles.
Instead of screening for excess info, HotePlanner.com scratched out all of these requirements.
In addition to the current client list, the travel platform is betting big on expansion through acquisitions.
After its launch, the company’s acquired TravelTicker, Hotel Hotline, and very recently folded accommodation auction site BackBid into HotelPlanner’s suite of services.
It’s a disciplined approach, he tells us.
“Our initial valuation was based on the cash we needed to reach profitability in relation to the equity we were willing to give up. Our 60 pages of market research helped investors believe that we could hit our targets with a very small initial raise by today’s standards,” Hentschel says.
“Our research was correct, and we hit profitability in our second year, and we never had to raise money again,” he adds.
In recent years, sectors like hospitality—and especially real estate—have seen a massive influx of capital inflows. One fund’s committed $93 billion to tech investments alone.
Despite all the VC dry powder looking for opportunity, Tim advises startups to stay as far away from funding for as long as they can.
“Think about it,” he says. “That big seven-figure, eight-figure check doesn’t go to you. It goes to the company, and you effectively lose control of your company. It’s business and the VCs can be ruthless.”
Instead, he recommends moving the focus to actually building the business.
“Focus on your core value. We filed a patent for our online group hotel booking technology 15 years ago, and we have been working everyday since to make that technology better for customers and suppliers,” he tells us.
What’s next on the cards?
While his company is busy garnering robust sales, Hentschel’s naturally bullish on the travel industry’s future.
The travel space is wedged into a transitional phase. Baby boomers who are spending their retirement traveling. Then we’ve got millennials prioritizing “experiences” over “stuff.”
“We have been through market bubbles and bursts over the history of our company and the highs and lows can be challenging if your core product cannot adapt quickly to market conditions. We are going to continue to expand globally and follow up with group travel trends,” Hentschel says.
“We want to compile as much data and information about every destination, and push it out to visitors in an easy to digest format.”
And what’s next, Tim? IPO?
“Not yet,” he says, laughing. “Our books are healthy, we’re growing. Maybe at some point in the future.”
How Big Real Estate Moguls Avoid Taxes (And How You Can, Too) 👀
I was looking around Google for an old article on tax strategies and this five-year old video of myself happened to pop up.
I’m interviewing a tax expert about how real estate investors avoid paying taxes in perpetuity—AND how everyday citizens can do the same thing.
There’s the 1031 exchange, of course, which I’ve shared with you guys before.
Just to refresh your memory, the 1031 Exchange allows you to roll over gains from your last project into a new property TAX FREE—as long as said property is worth the same or more.
But there’s ANOTHER TAX LOOPHOLE that can take your portfolio to an entirely new level by splitting your capital gains into MULTIPLE properties.
So I thought I’d share it with you guys. 💎
You can check it out here.
Let me know what you think. 😎
PS: In our next update, I’m going to break down how real estate moguls get paid from their properties…tax free. 👀
PPS: If you want to learn how to implement generational wealth strategies like this one, you can join our NYCE wealth academy (TRIBE U) here.
How I run a $300M+ business from the beach…(and how you can TOO!)
Yes, you read that right.
If there’s anything the pandemic taught us, it’s that the paradigm of “office” and “workspace” has been shaken to its CORE.
Universities are teaching via Zoom, court dates are done virtually, FULLY REMOTE businesses are valued at $1B+, and legitimate Inc. 5000 startups are run from…wherever. 📲
This is my office for the day…
I am actually running our business from the beach, typing this from here.
It’s 4:28 pm CET, which means it’s 10:28 am EST and I am CRUSHING my to-do list.
(And the team will continue to crush it while I’m asleep. That’s the 🗝)
So how did we get here?
As a result, we shut down our main office and set EVERYTHING up to run remotely…
SMOOTHLY! And a system that allows us to outperform competition by 200%. (You can build this system, too. More on this in a second.)
Here’s what we were able to do since then:
- Gained 6M+ followers across all platforms 📈
- Add 1500+ new apartments to the portfolio 🤑
- Grow to $300M in real estate 🚀
- 105% investor returns 🎉
- 700K+ community members 🤝
And here’s the best part…
Having team members in all the main time zones gives us a 24-hour work cycle vs. 9-5/eight-hour on-the-clock performance.
This means we get 3x the productivity of a similar company. 🔥
Let me repeat that…3x PRODUCTIVITY vs. our competitors.
Meanwhile our project management software grants us 24-hour TEAM-WIDE connectivity that tracks all tasks and lets us know if productivity dips even a little bit.
There is ALWAYS someone senior awake. It could be Martin in Barcelona…Nat in New York…Vineet & Arif in New Delhi.
All the while giving YOU GUYS wealth hacks and daily content. 🔥
OK, so how can you do it?!
Well, the first step is to have an actual side hustle you’re launching. Not just an idea, a validated business.
MAJOR KEY: Do NOT spend money until you’ve made your FIRST DOLLAR! 🗝🗝🗝🗝
(You can catch a replay Business Launch masterclass here and see TRIBE member Nessa launched her business on the spot and got her first $45K client shortly after.)
One of the easiest ways to start is with Airbnb—you can start that in 10 minutes. Literally. (Here’s a guide if you need it.)
Once you have your business, you build a virtual infrastructure (you really just need two softwares, which are FREE), manage the team accordingly and run the business from there.
I’m gonna put together a step-by-step video breakdown this weekend inside the new TRIBE U on the FIVE key things you need to do this for YOURSELF. 💵 💎
From what software to use, how to build a team, how to keep.
In the meantime, drop a comment if you’re ready to build some wealth and any questions if you want more…
Let’s get to work. 🙌
EXCLUSIVE Q&A: This 26-Year Old Made $100K From Her IG In 90 Days. Here’s How She Did It 👀
Yes, it’s a pandemic. Yes, the economy is down. Yet, some entrepreneurs have found opportunity in the “new normal” (whatever that means).
In the public markets, FAANGs are booming: Amazon and Netflix are up dramatically, fueled by the need for home entertainment…and shopping.
One of them is Ariel Adams, a 26-year-old South Virginia-based realtor. In April, at the height of the lockdown, she had exactly 1000 followers on Instagram.
Fast forward to today, she’s attracted over 100K followers, has made $100K in online sales (again, during the pandemic), and is now showing others how to do the same.
We sat down with Ariel to discuss how she made $100K in 90 days, what she sold, how she got her first customer, and how you can, too.
Let’s get right to it. You work in real estate but were able to make $100,000 from your IG in three months. Let’s start with the product. What did you sell?
Yes, that’s correct. I was shocked myself! My sales came from my digital products, mainly my e-book From Instagram to Instant Money. My e-book dives into how you can optimize your Instagram profile to grow a following and sell your own product. I talk to the Instagram algorithm and how to beat it to ultimately monetize the platform. My other digital product is my course How to $ave Like the Wealthy. As a realtor, I would receive a lot of questions in regards to saving up for a down payment on a home. I decided to create a video outlining the best way to save money and accumulate wealth. Both of those products got me to six figures!
How did you secure your first orders? Who were your buyers?
My sales came from my following. I would collaborate with other brands with significant followings and post my product on their page. This drew in a lot of traffic to my products and also pushed me to 100k followers on Instagram. My buyers were typically people looking to earn passive income by selling a product or service through Instagram.
Was the objective of your advertising to gain followers and sell later? Or did that just happen as a byproduct of people buying your courses?
I never was trying to gain followers, I was always trying to sell. I think people would see my ad, go to my page, and then turn into a follower because I always provide valuable content on my page. My Instagram consists of personal finance infographics, real estate tips, and inspirational quotes. I think people naturally gravitated toward that and I was able to retain and gain followers.
How do you consistently market it? Is this a model anyone can use?
I try to set up placements on these bigger Instagram pages 2-3 times a week. I aim for business pages, women-owned business pages, and black business pages. My product resonates well with entrepreneurs looking to scale their business through IG. It is absolutely a model anyone can use. I recommend following the other steps I speak to in my e-book. This will ensure the most success.
Most aren’t aware that partnerships can literally boost your business. How did you come up with the idea of collaboration and what made you target those pages exactly?
Being savvy to Instagram, I was always aware of Influencer Marketing. A lot of people think that’s just girls posting brands to their million or so followers, but it includes placements with ANY brand that has a substantial following. I knew this was a key to success. Collaboration on bigger platforms would be the most helpful for my brand. I targeted people I thought would be interested in my product; women CEOs, entrepreneurs, e-commerce enthusiasts, etc. I made sure to stay within that niche.
How did you come up with this idea?
I was inspired by other online entrepreneurs. I saw them making thousands online and I thought to myself, “Hey, I can do that.” So I decided to do it. I asked myself, “What am I skilled in? What can I teach people?” From my previous life managing artists in the music industry, I became an expert in Instagram. Combining what I studied at the University of Miami (Business) and my knowledge of Instagram, that’s what sparked my e-book on the subject.
What’s the number one advice you’d give someone who’s looking to make money for themselves but isn’t sure where to start?
My advice would be to write down what it is you’re good at. Brainstorm what skills you have. Maybe you have a passion for food? Good, create and sell a cookbook. Maybe you’re good at writing? You can become a freelance resume writer. We all have skills we can capitalize on. And if you need to learn how to market yourself, then Google is your best friend. Read, read, read. Self-educate and you will be on your way, and of course download my e-book to learn how to sell through Instagram!
How to Invest In Real Estate Through Your IRA
How Big Real Estate Moguls Avoid Taxes (And How You Can, Too) 👀
How I run a $300M+ business from the beach…(and how you can TOO!)
How To Launch Your Business In 30 Days Or Less
EXCLUSIVE: This Entrepreneur Built A $7B Business Without Outside Funding. Here’s How He Did It
How Mark Cuban Invested $640k In A Company That Started…As A Prank
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