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.”
The Top 10 Investment Opportunities To Capitalize On During A Recession
A recession can be a challenging time, but it can also present opportunities for investors to make smart investment decisions.
During a recession, certain industries tend to perform better than others, and identifying these opportunities can be the key to success.
Here are the top 10 investment opportunities to capitalize on during a recession:
1. Defensive Stocks
Defensive stocks are those that tend to perform well EVEN during economic downturns.
These include companies that provide essential goods and services, such as healthcare, utilities, and consumer staples.
Defensive stocks may not offer the highest returns, but they can provide stability and protection during a recession.
Gold is often seen as a safe haven during times of economic uncertainty.
As a tangible asset, it can provide a hedge against inflation and currency fluctuations. During a recession, the price of gold may rise as investors seek a safe haven for their money.
READ: 3 Ways To Invest In Gold (In 3 Minutes Or Less)
3. Real Estate
Real estate can be a good investment opportunity during a recession. Especially if you are looking for a long-term investment. (Hence why NYCE exists.)
While property values may dip during a recession, they tend to recover over time. In addition, rental properties can provide a steady stream of income, even during a recession.
After all: Real estate has created more millionaires than any other asset class.
4. High-Quality Bonds
High-quality bonds, such as U.S. Treasury bonds, can be a safe investment during a recession.
These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which makes them less risky than other types of bonds. (Though this has become less safe today than in the past.)
They may not offer the highest returns, but they can provide stability and protection during a recession.
5. Consumer Discretionary Stocks
Consumer discretionary stocks are those that are tied to consumer spending, such as retail, travel, and entertainment companies.
During a recession, these stocks may suffer as consumers cut back on non-essential spending.
However, if you believe that the economy will recover, investing in consumer discretionary stocks can be a good bet.
6. Healthcare Stocks
Healthcare stocks tend to perform well even during economic downturns, as people still need healthcare services regardless of the state of the economy.
In addition, the aging population in many countries is driving demand for healthcare services, which can provide long-term growth opportunities for investors.
7. Technology Stocks
Technology stocks can be a good investment opportunity during a recession, as many companies in this sector have strong balance sheets and cash reserves.
In addition, the shift towards remote work and online shopping during the pandemic has increased demand for technology products and services.
8. Emerging Markets
Emerging markets can be a good investment opportunity during a recession, as these countries may be less affected by the economic downturn than developed countries.
In addition, emerging markets often have higher growth rates than developed countries, which can provide long-term growth opportunities for investors.
9. Dividend Stocks
Dividend stocks can be a good investment opportunity during a recession, as they provide a steady stream of income even during tough economic times.
Look for companies with a history of paying dividends and a strong balance sheet.
Finally, cash can be a good investment during a recession, as it provides flexibility and liquidity. Having cash on hand can allow you to take advantage of investment opportunities as they arise.
In conclusion, while a recession can be a challenging time for investors, it can also present opportunities for smart investment decisions.
By identifying the top investment opportunities during a recession, you can position yourself for long-term success.
From Zero to Millionaire: How 9-5 Marketing Guy Made A Fortune Selling Pet Rocks As A Joke (1)
No BS—this is actually a real story.
The pet rock—a seemingly ridiculous idea—became a sensation and made its creator, Gary Dahl, a millionaire in the 1970s.
Dahl, a marketing executive, came up with the idea as a joke during a conversation with friends.
He packaged rocks in a cardboard box with holes and called them “pet rocks,” complete with an instruction manual on how to care for them.
There was virtually no upfront investment, as the rocks themselves were free, and the packaging was inexpensive.
“It was a joke,” Dahl told ABC News years later. “It was a satire. It was fun. And it became an overnight success.”
The pet rocks became an instant hit, with Dahl selling over a million of them in six months.
He appeared on popular TV shows and even wrote a book about his success. The pet rock craze died down after a year, but Dahl had already made his fortune.
After the pet rock craze died down, Gary Dahl continued to work in marketing and advertising.
He also tried to launch other novelty products, such as “sand-breeding kits” and “mood rings,” but none of them achieved the same level of success as the pet rock.
“I think that’s one of the things that is wrong with business today. People are so serious, they forget to have fun,” Gary Dahl said.
The success of the pet rock shows that sometimes the most unconventional ideas can lead to great success.
Why Gary’s story matters to you…
The story of Gary Dahl and his pet rock is a testament to the power of thinking outside the box. Sometimes, it’s the seemingly ridiculous ideas that can lead to the biggest successes.
Dahl’s story is not only inspiring, but it’s also a reminder to keep a sense of humor and not take ourselves too seriously.
In business, it’s easy to get bogged down in strategy and analysis, but we should never forget the importance of creativity and fun.
The success of the pet rock is also a lesson in the power of marketing.
Dahl’s packaging and instruction manual turned a simple rock into a desirable product. It’s a reminder that sometimes it’s not the product itself that’s important, but how it’s presented to the world.
So if you’re feeling stuck in your business or just need a little inspiration, take a cue from Gary Dahl and his pet rock.
Keep an open mind, don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t forget to have a little fun along the way.
Who knows…you might just come up with the next big thing.
wealthlab is a platform for hustlers, doers, entrepreneurs and investors to do epic s&%. Our mission is to create 100M new investors worldwide. Join our academy here.*
- ‘I work just 2 hours a day’: A 24-year-old who makes $8,000 a month in passive income shares her best business advice
- This 38-year-old makes $160,000 per month in passive income—after losing his job: ‘I work only 5 hours a week now’
- This 33-year-old mom makes $760,000 a year in passive income—and lives on a sailboat: ‘I work just 10 hours a week’
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.