SnapShot Travel's recent fund-raise of Euro 25 million raised a few eyebrows in the industry.
Not because the injection of capital is unwarranted, but it is one of the larger rounds in recent years to be pumped into a B2B startup focussing on hotel tech.
SnapShot is hotel guest demand management tool, but the new funding is hoped will push the company into new markets and see the launch of a new range of analytics tools.
Tnooz took managing director Michael Heinze aside for a quick chat to learn more about the company in the two years since it launched (and perhaps learn why it managed to attract such a sizeable round).
Tnooz: SnapShot has already created a toolset for hoteliers. What prompted the current developmental phase at SnapShot?
Michael Heinze: The latest stage was spurred by a need from one of our first customers. This customer was actually using excel to try and track such things as costs, reservations, optimization, channel management, and the variables many hotels use to forecast, and to glean their management effectiveness.
As you can imagine the complexity and awkwardness of these excel based analytics created a huge point of pain for hotels. So it was that the need for a highly variable and vastly simplified solution became evident.
Tnooz: What has been your biggest hurdle so far, in spurring this new development forward?
MH: Integration with existing legacy data systems, PMS systems and etc., is by far the most complex and difficult problem in creating the next generation of hotel analytics tools.
As anyone who works with these systems knows, the data landscape in hospitality today is amazingly fragmented.
Tnooz: We hear a lot about apparent innovation from companies like IBM, HP, or Microsoft that speak of "technological capability" being enhanced daily. How is SnapShot innovating to bridge these technologies, or are you improving upon current platforms like HP Vertica "Excavator" and the like?
MH: We value competition, as this is actually what drives innovation and rapid improvements.
It is just because of such systems that we expect integration of these new technologies to happen quicker and more flawlessly in the months to come.
Tnooz: You've opened a developmental hub in Brno, in the Czech Republic. Is there a particular reason you chose this location?
MH: First of all Brno is centrally located in between our offices in Berlin, the Gliwice offices in Poland, and our branch in Austria as well.
From a technology standpoint, Brno technical universities afford us an extraordinary talent pool to hire from.
Aside these factors, the fact that Microsoft and many other industry leading companies are located here adds a further incentive.
Software development is inherently an expensive realm, too, so having "in-house" techs is really a foregone conclusion.
Tnooz: A recent article on VentureBeat argues that users of new technologies often have a horrendous time learning and deploying them. How much effort is SnapShot putting into solving this problem?
MH: SnapShot is not just a product company. Our philosophy here is fairly logical and agnostic really.
There is loads of data out there, and a magnificent potential to leverage it.
But actual users, the sales directors, managers and performance people depending on them, they have so little time to engage in decision analytics activity.
Let's say a hotel revenue manager has 90 minutes a day to devote to analytics. SnapShot tools, support and educational aspects are devoted to optimize this time to the fullest. As I said, we are not just focused on producing a product.
We are also trying to help the industry solve these problems. So often a hotel's misunderstanding of purpose gets in the way.
We help to give our clients perspective, to define their business approach better, and to understand their identity within their competitive market too.
Tnooz: You are managing director and CTO, but no-one has been named CEO. Can you tell us why?
MH: As an early startup we understood each of the key people in our organization possessed exactly the right individual skills to go forward.
We also understood that none of the core team possessed the perfect skill set to lead SnapShot as the company scaled up to the next level.
So, we have been actively seeking the right person to fill this crucial role.
This interview was originally published on Tnooz as A hotel tech startup explains why hotel tech can be sexy (to investors)