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.”
This Grammy-Nominated Singer Built A Nostalgic Video Gaming Experience—And It’s Pretty Freakin’ Awesome
The gaming world is discovering the power of community, thanks to one of New York City’s most hip musicians.
Grammy Award nominated singer songwriter Letta J is on a mission to make gaming more social. The singer, raised in Dallas, now juggles a vibrant tour presence, songwriting, and building one of the most promising gaming events to check out.
With Love From The Grammys
Letta J has performed in genres spanning pop, R&B, all the way to country and soft rock. Her work led to a Grammy Nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album of The Year in 2016.
Not only is she a talented performer, she’s done songwriting for labels such as Sony, Atlantic, and P Diddy’s hop studio Daddy’s House.
Somewhere in the midst of it all, Letta J reconnected with a nostalgic passion for video games.
She’s not alone.
Each month, hundreds of gamers now take part in an online community called Coexist Gaming, which Letta J founded in 2018. Coexist Gaming runs a Facebook page where they post regular updates.
From The Grammys To Gaming
The coolest thing about Coexist Gaming, however, is how it gets people together offline for live gaming events.
About once a month, gamers come together at Coexist Gaming’s pimped out space in New York City for gaming fun.
Coexist Gaming is marking its one year anniversary on August 24. With tournaments sponsored by Ultimate Wireless, the event will bring back fan favorite games, including:
- Smash Bros Ultimate
- NBA 2K9
- Madden 2000
- Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation games
- Alongside over 2,000 retro games spanning classic systems from the NES all the way to the iconic Sega Genesis
If you feel like you’re missing out on the fun, that’s because you are. Trust Letta J’s background in the entertainment industry for crafting the most happening gaming event you could imagine.
When you walk into a Coexist Gaming event, you will be greeted by the endless variety of sheer fun.
There’s great food, drinks, alongside all the excitement you could want from pizza and sodas.
So much Pong and foosball
The backyard boasts a beer pong table and a retro gaming arcade.
If you fancy your foosball skills, you can engage in match ups against other gamers, there’s a table for that.
Where Coexist Gaming goes next…
A pool table is also available. Needless to say, this is the event to check out in NYC if you’ve ever enjoyed a video game.
What Letta J has accomplished in one short year with Coexist Gaming is breathtaking. She has brought back the nostalgia of the 90s video game consoles, but with a fresh excitement that’s so 21st Century New York style.
If you’re ready to join the fun at one of Coexist Gaming’s events, you can check them out here. The company has Basic, Pro, and Elite monthly subscriptions.
How Dwayne Johnson Became The Biggest Box Office Draw In History
Dwayne Johnson’s earnings haul has been nothing short of scintillating. In 1998, at 26, he became the then-youngest WWE champion of all time.
Fast forward 20 years later, Dwayne Johnson’s wrestled his way to top of Hollywood’s food chain: For one, he’s the world’s highest paid actor. And he recently became the biggest draw in Hollywood history.
Johnson climbed the Forbes’ rankings to clinch the top spot as the world’s biggest star, trumping fellow actors like George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr.
Wow unexpected news.
I don’t have a Harvard MBA, but my business philosophy has been sharpened over time and thru failure. I have one boss I serve and connect with – the world and the people in it. I’m the dude who started w/ $7bucks. I’m awestruck ($124M) grateful & hungry. https://t.co/0VWSn5YU6N
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 17, 2018
The Rock’s scripted a superstar success story when it comes to entrepreneurship. After launching his production house with ex-wife, Dwayne soon expanded its operations to cover content strategy for social media platforms.
This big move helped them increase their global footprint.
Several endorsements, WWE stints and numerous action films later, Johnson now commands earnings of eight figures for films and shows. And his journey has only got more exciting by the day.
Happy to share a lil’ insight from an invaluable mentor and friend, Bob Iger. CEO of one of the most trusted and beloved brands the world has ever known. Building a global brand takes time.10, 20, 30 years.. even more. Sure it takes relentless hard work, passion & vision, but the main thing it takes is TRUST. Building that trust with your audience where they know and believe that you’ll always do your best to deliver a fun, memorable EXPERIENCE. And like any successful relationship, it takes years to build up and you always gotta take care of it with your own two hands. #TimeAndTrust 🌎
Posted by Dwayne The Rock Johnson on Friday, July 20, 2018
4 Types Of People To Be Around That Will Make The Hustle More Fun
(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.)
We all know that hard work and dedication are keys to success. The more you’re willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile, the greater your chances are of reaching your personal goals and passions.
While there’s no denying that hard work does play a major role in reaching success, surrounding yourself with the right people will always help. We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” … In my career, whenever I push myself to be around the positive thinkers and go-getters, it’s always up-leveled me and gave me more confidence to in turn fulfill my own dreams and ambitions.
Finding your network through all the different stages of your life and career is not only helpful in progressing your career, but it also creates amazing relationships and opportunities.
So, what type of people should you be surrounding yourself with?
THE PUZZLE PIECES
Find the network that is your perfect complement —the people that have the skills and abilities you strive for. Not only will this give you more confidence, it will help you learn the skills and abilities you may be lacking.
THE POSITIVE PEOPLE
Who doesn’t want to be around someone who’s happy and optimistic? Even though that doesn’t have to be all the time.
Surrounding yourself with positive and grateful people can have an incredible impact on your life, making you feel happier and more confident. Also, positive people are more likely to encourage you to take smart risks or move up the business ladder.
Dreamers and innovators are the people pushing society forward. They are the people interested in coming up with new and improved ways to solve problems and achieve success. Regardless of what field they’re working in, it’s never a bad idea to have a few outside-the-box thinkers in your social circle to help you look at things from a different perspective.
THE ANSWER SEEKERS
Just like innovators, people who constantly ask questions are the reason why we challenge old ways and come up with new ideas. When you’re surrounded by people who constantly ask questions, you’re more likely to come across the answers that you never knew you needed.
Ultimately, the people you keep in your inner circle can influence you in a number of different ways, including how you approach problems or whether you’re motivated to achieve greater things or not. Of course, this isn’t to say that everyone around you needs to be someone who’s working those extra-long hours to get to the next phase in life.
However, when you have a few business-minded people in your life, you’re more likely to inherit some of their drive, benefit from their knowledge, and even network in some of the same circles. For that reason, it’s always important to make friends who have the same goals and aspirations as yourself. It might just help you get to the top quicker.
Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here.