In a travel industry dominated by Internet giants such as Expedia and Travelocity, it can be hard for independent hotels to grab the attention of potential customers. Odysys CEO and co-founder Kent Schnepp wants to change that via a digital marketing platform he’s created especially for them.
BendTECH recently sat down with Schnepp to learn more about his entrepreneurial chops (this is his fourth company) and how he aims to provide a big advantage to small, independent hotels.
Founder: Kent Schnepp
Started: July 2014
Employees: 3 (soon to be 5)
Headquarters: Downtown Bend
What is Odysys? We are a SaaS company that provides a complete digital marketing platform for independent hotels, motels, and destination resorts. We offer a suite of products that includes mobile responsive websites, automated digital marketing campaigns, and private label, commission-free booking technology.
What spurred the idea? I’ve started four companies. My second one was a company called EngineWorks (acquired by Ethology in 2011). We specialized in search marketing and a lot of our clients were independent hotels. I saw then the challenges they have in acquiring guests. They don’t have the resources that larger chains have to manage marketing campaigns and they rely heavily on online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia, which take up to a 30% commission on the bookings.
How does Odysys provide an alternative? We help these independent hotels leverage the power of digital marketing to help them be less reliant on the online travel agencies. They don’t have to hire extra people to do so, instead all of their digital marketing efforts and booking information can be easily managed in one place. Ultimately we want to help independent hotels reduce guest acquisition costs, increase revenue and encourage repeat customers.
Do you have any competition? There are companies that offer bits and pieces of what we do — most of them focus on booking. But so far no one is providing a whole platform specifically for independent hotels. Meanwhile, there’s been a huge influx of hotel startups, but not a lot of innovation in the industry — all the progress has come from the OTAs. So the timing seems right.
What are you working on now? We’re hiring and just heads down, building our product. Our 1.0 version will go live in February 2015. We already have some beta and paying customers signed up and ready to use it.
What types of positions are you hiring? We’re looking for software engineers, a marketing manager and a client support representative.
How are you funded? A combination of founder funds and some investment.
Are you currently fundraising? Not at the moment.
Next in #50startups: People, this was our 10th startup. And we’re just getting warmed up. Seriously I’m doing high knees right now. Next week, we’re posting a quiz about the companies we’ve covered. Practice question: Which Bend startup has portraits of sci-fi marmots decorating their office? The quiz winner will get a coffee gift card AND their picture on our blog as our most favorite reader ever. It’s a big deal. So study up!
You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].