Navigating through the storm of the century
By Richard Valtr, Founder at Mews Systems and Matthijs Welle, CEO at Mews
We started 2020 on such a high at Mews. We were fresh off a year of incredible growth, we had a fantastic Series B led by Battery Ventures, we were elated to be working with over 1500 customers in all geographies, and we built an incredible team that we were genuinely so proud of. COVID-19 has shaken our industry to the core, and everyone from Marriott to Airbnb to Mews has been forced to rapidly replan using a scenario that was previously unimaginable. What happens when an entire industry shuts down?
As a startup, we've definitely seen our fair share of ups and downs. There's a reason why it's taken us 8 years to get to where we are - the challenge of building a new architecture for the hospitality brands of the future is a really hard problem to solve. Scrappiness and agility has always been a core value at Mews so as we saw borders closing around the world, we quickly brought our leadership team together to replan everything. We made the decision to move towards a self-sufficient business model that's less reliant on growth equity, effectively abandoning the traditional path of most startups. We asked our team to come with solutions to support this for the next 12-18 months.
We'd like to share some of the outcomes from our planning because Mews has been, and will continue to be, an open company. We also hope that some of this will be helpful to other leaders in tech and hospitality as we face this once in a lifetime event.
Helping our customers to reopen
Above all, our most important priority is to support our customers many of whom are suffering due to the widespread travel bans. Our collective focus is on helping them to reopen their properties in a time when travel is allowed, but people will need to maintain some level of social distancing. Hoteliers are innately human, but we need to ensure that they're ready to support a fully automated, contactless customer experience, that eliminates any queues or clusters of people in open spaces.
To kickstart this transition, we're offering two online events in April. The first will be hosted by our product team where they will demo all of the features in Mews (eg. online check-in, online check-out, self-serve kiosks) that enables a property to have contactless guest management, and greater automation in back-office operations. The second event will be hosted by a panel of industry experts who will discuss how the industry should handle reopening in the US market which is facing a myriad of regulations at the state level, which is not unlike what we're seeing in the EU.
Practicing what we preach
As a tech company we need to practice what we preach. We believe that there is no better time to review our own back office operations than right now. We've kicked-off multiple projects that are designed to streamline operations and improve efficiencies. To start, we will be migrating to the customer service platform Dixa which we believe will drive an even better customer experience at Mews. We're going to accelerate innovation in our finance department as outlined by Pavla, our VP of Finance, in her terrific blog article. We're also evaluating multiple CRM providers to see if there's an opportunity to upgrade the sales and marketing processes as well. Kevin McCarthy made this very astute remark in our last 'Hospitality and the Coronavirus' webinar: We should all have two Coronavirus war rooms - one for the immediate operational decisions, and a second war room with people who are looking at how to optimise this time. We couldn't agree more.
The painful part
Given the dramatic slowdown in the industry, we made the truly painful decision to downsize or furlough some of our teams. In a time when entire regions have mandated that people can't move freely, we have to centralise our efforts and optimise teams for the duration of the crisis. This was a painful experience for everyone involved and really unfair, because we were lucky enough to have a house full of incredible talent. We very much hope to work with many of them again.
Doing our part
COVID-19 is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis and we all need to do our part to help. A team of employees started this wonderful initiative called Hotels for Helpers. This program has been designed for any hotel who wants to provide discounted rooms for healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the crisis. Hotels for Helpers started in the Netherlands and within one week, more than 100 hotels signed up. Given the strong demand from hotels and guests alike, we're helping to roll this out in multiple regions. Please contact the Hotels for Helpers team on their website, if you'd like to learn more.
Despite all that's happened in the past few weeks, we're still very optimistic about the future of our industry. We can see people booking trips right now because the second they can travel, they will. Everyone is determined to get out of their homes to enjoy some well-earned holidays. This pandemic hasn't been easy for anyone, far from it, but we believe this experience will make us stronger, as an industry and as Mews.
Take care and stay safe,
Matt & Richard
Richard ValtrMore from Richard Valtr
Matthijs WelleMore from Matthijs Welle
Mews, headquartered in Amsterdam with offices in 10 countries worldwide is a cloud-based property management software (PMS) provider supplying hospitality providers with software to manage their businesses. Mews enables great service by simplifying and automating the management of a hospitality business, letting hoteliers focus on delivering great customer experiences instead of their administrative tasks. Mews provides solutions for hotels and hostels across the world including, Accor Hotels, Tsogo Sun, Generator Hostels, Jo & Joe, and more.