“Consumers want things to be simple and all in one place.” with Candice Georgiadis & Starsha Green

Consumers want things to be simple and all in one place. For travel and hospitality this means a single view of the customer so you can make booking as simple and easy as possible with personal touches along the way. As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next […]

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Consumers want things to be simple and all in one place. For travel and hospitality this means a single view of the customer so you can make booking as simple and easy as possible with personal touches along the way.

As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Starsha Green. Starsha is the Founder and CEO of Suite24, a leading booking platform that specializes in short stay style hotel bookings across Australia. As an avid traveler herself, Starsha moved to Sydney 12 years ago from the U.S. and is now calling the beautiful Bondi Beach home. Having launched Suite24 in early 2017, the platform is quickly become one of the first booking sites in Australia to offer hotel rooms and access to hotel facilities at an hourly charge rate. Most of the time, the rates are equaling to just a faction of the price of an overnight stay! From disrupted passengers in airports, to business and leisure travelers, Suite24 can offer a stay that is right for you.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to run and own my own business one day. In junior high and high school I was always very creative and dabbled in all forms of art so always thought it would come in the form of an interior design business or fashion label. But as we grow up those dreams shift and change. I was lucky enough to have some great mentors and influences in my life early on that showed me a few key fundamentals that really shaped me as a person and taught me important business basics. Needless to say, I learned how to be street smart pretty early on. Having started my first recruitment business at 22, to then working with major Consulting and Recruitment firms and taking my first GM role here in Australia at just 26, I feel each role and experience gave me the fundamentals and networks I needed to prepare for this journey I’m on, now as a start-up Founder.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I think taking the leap and moving from the US to Australia was not only the most interesting, but the most beneficial move I could have made. I was working with Accenture, my partner at the time was also working there and a transfer opportunity came up for us both to relocate to the Sydney office. I had never been here before, really didn’t know much about life here or the culture, but decided to take the leap and make the move all in just a short 3 months! I literally sold everything I owned and moved with just a few trunks of clothes and started my life over in Sydney at just 24. However, I was very lucky with the first role I took and was immediately surrounded by amazing people who really became pivotal in my career journey early on and I’m still lucky enough to call friends today. I’m forever grateful to those 3-key people who took a chance and believed in me, a skinny, unpolished American girl from Utah.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t know if I would call it the funniest, but it was definitely the most expensive! When we first had the idea for Suite24 we took a steer to hire a “start-up consultant” who was meant to guide us in our journey, create pitch decks and investor memorandums, the lot. Little did we know that his intention was that all the investment money we raised through him would essentially go towards paying for his services! Long story short, this consultant essentially delivered nothing but his own pay check and set us back about 6 months in our process. My advice, if you are going to hire a start-up consultant, ensure the path around deliverables is clear and payments are only made on agreed outcomes. It cost us about $50k and as you know every dollar in start-up world is critical!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

With the introduction of companies like Uber and Airbnb, the idea around idle capacity and on demand, real-time consumption has changed the way people think about everything. Industries have been forced to disrupt and reinvent themselves or fall victim to smaller competitors who can scale at a rapid pace to keep up with customer need and demand. Hotels have essentially become one of the last industries to really explore viable disruption options and have run the same models for the last 50 years. Our platform offers a flexible, cost effective solution to help hotels do just that. Suite24 offers hotels the thing their current HMS/PMS or GDS systems can’t do, which is the flexibility to break down an overnight stay into time blocks giving guests a way to create personalised experiences suited to their individual needs on a stay by stay basis. So, whether it is leveraging our platform to offer early check in or late check out options at a cost, allowing stranded or disrupted passengers a haven away from the airport due to a delayed or cancelled flight, or just a great way for companies to offer a creative solution to look after business travellers who do multiple day trips in a week, Suite24 offers a place to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.

There are several platforms in the last 2 years that have popped up in America, Europe and Asia however it’s not been a solution offered to Australian consumers until now. Our goal is to make travel a little easier in any situation and to create a new way for hotels to engage with new and repeat guests alike.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

As a single mum to a beautiful 6-year-old and an entrepreneur, free time as I know it is non-existent! There are days I question if a 9–5 job would be the easier option but I have to remind myself why I do this and that the short-term pain is for long term gain. The best advice I give myself is to remember to take care of me. When you have kids and a business, all your energy, love and time goes to looking after everyone else. When I have a weekend off, I make sure I take time to go to the gym, do my barre classes, take a walk and just reflect and re-centre my thoughts. Celebrate the wins, enjoy the successes and remember that it’s the journey that leads to each success and the failure that presents the most opportunity to improve, learn and grow.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are so many people who have contributed to my journey in so many ways, but the person I’d have to thank the most is the Chairman of my Board, Investor and sounding board, Peter Yialas. Without his consistent encouragement, belief in the product, direction and business acumen we would have never achieved some of the wonderful things we have to date. I have so much more to put into this platform and it’s nice to know I have a support system along the way.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

The innovation we bring to the hospitality industry is essentially leveraging idle capacity of hotel rooms and creating new, unique and flexible ways for guests and hotels to interact all while creating additional revenue lines. The tech roadmap we have in place for the next 2 years on the platform is fantastic.

We are really trying to create a product that allows the guest to create an all-inclusive, personalised stay with their hotel of choice whether it be due to a last-minute disruption, a planned long layover with the kids, or just a day stay with that special someone. By allowing guests to book rooms in hourly time blocks we have created a new way for guests to engage with hotels with flexible pricing options depending on what kind of stay they require.

Our platform will also be incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities via a Digital Concierge which will provide personalised recommendations to each guest based on their staying history and profile preferences. For the hotels, this creates additional revenue opportunities by allowing us to track and analyse data such as guest spend, booking patterns and third party services to help keep revenue within the hotels. Hotels also have access to other benefits such as advertising hotel bars, specials, cocktail hours, restaurants, spas, conference rooms and facilities, all which will be bookable through the platform.

As we progress our relationships with partners such as Qantas, Accor and Rydges, we hope to incorporate reward and loyalty programs so guests can earn points off credit cards, Frequent Flyer programs or hotel loyalty programs. We have so much more in store but you’ll have to wait for the next release!

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

Our platform really addresses two pain points, one for the consumer and one for the hotels.

For guests, we offer options. Options around not only how long you stay, but around how much you pay for that stay. Right now, when it comes to booking hotels there is typically a requirement for an overnight stay, a set price, a lack of flexibility, strict check in and check out requirements and hard to manage cancellation policies. When you book with Suite24 you no longer have to combat any of these typical issues. We offer flexible bookings from 2–12 hours, last minute cancellations and direct payment through the site which makes check in and check out much faster as you don’t have to settle your bill upon check out at the hotel.

For hotels, their systems are not set up to handle hourly bookings, time blocked bookings or short stay bookings. We offer a way for them to break down booking requests by creating multiple ways for additional revenue to be created on a room that’s sitting idle or may not be required until much later in the day allowing the room to be turned over multiple times in a day. We have 3 ways for hotels to sell rooms which are hourly with a 2-hour minimum booking, in 3 hourly time blocks or as a set time block for the day. Our self-service dashboard allows hotels to “turn on” inventory at the click of a button and our dynamic booking calendar means hotels can create custom booking availability for each room type they wish to promote. All changes feed through directly to the website in real time so changes to inventory availability are simple and immediate for guests.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

The success metric for Suite24 is the number of users and reservations booking on the platform. We expect that this will triple the amount of bookings a hotel can receive in a single day.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

For us, we see 5 key things as critical for travel:

1. Ease of use

2. Flexibility

3. On Demand

4. Integration

5. Personalisation.

Consumers want things to be simple and all in one place. For travel and hospitality this means a single view of the customer so you can make booking as simple and easy as possible with personal touches along the way.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

For me, service is everything. My favourite hotel and one I will always return to is the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong. The staff are incredible and it feels like home every time I stay. When I walk in they know details from my previous stays like what I ordered last time I dined in Tosca from the food right down to wine. They always go out of their way to make my stays memorable and it means I never stay anywhere else.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are still very much on our journey to success, but I believe in karma and try my best to help as many people as I can along the way. Today, our world has become a much smaller place and how you treat people goes a long way. I would never have been able to think about taking up this challenge without the help of others so I always try to connect up another founder, make introductions and just help out with advice or feedback whenever I can knowing what goes around, comes around. We also are a contributor to several charities and try to give back as much as we can.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve always said when I make my millions, I want to be involved in helping disadvantaged children. Our systems are so stretched when it comes to support for children who need it most, it’s very sad. It’s a cause very close to my heart and one I try to contribute to in whatever small ways I can even now.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suite24hotels/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/suite-24

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suite24hotels/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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