Meet Orlando Based Reservations.com –The Next Generation Online Travel Marketplace
We recently spoke with Yatin Patel, CEO and Co-Founder of Reservations.com:
What is your personal and professional background?
Most of my career has been spent in the hospitality and travel industry. I’ve been specifically focused on understanding and facilitating the modernization and digitization of online travel. My professional career has allowed me the opportunity to co-found, operate, and invest in several successful hospitality businesses.
Reservations.com was born from my experience in the travel space and the realization that there was a significant opportunity for a new travel platform that was purpose-built to provide customers with a higher-touch, service-oriented hotel accommodation solution.
On a personal level, I’ve been active in the Orlando community that I’m proud to call home. This includes work with the Dr. Phillip Performing Arts Center, the University Club of Orlando, the Orlando Film Festival, and the onePULSE Foundation.
What is the story behind Reservations.com?
I co-founded Reservations.com in 2014 with my partner Mahesh Chaddah. Based on our prior experience, we identified a distinct opportunity to bring the human touch back to online travel. We had the chance to purchase the Reservations.com domain as the foundation for a strong consumer brand from which we could build on this vision.
We started the business in Orlando and currently employ roughly 30 local professionals. We are entirely independent and founder-owned, which allows us the opportunity to invest in the long-term success of the business and our employees. We have grown consistently since inception and currently offer access to over 500,000 hotel properties across 5,000 destinations around the world. We have served nearly 2.5 million travelers and facilitated more than 4 million room nights along the way.
We pride ourselves on delivering a higher level of service than other online travel options within the market. To this end, we have invested heavily in a 24/7 call center that is available to all of our customers. Our travel agents are trained to assist with complicated reservations and answer questions about upcoming travel plans.
It has been incredible to see what we have been able to accomplish over the last 5-years. This has only been possible with the fierce dedication of our team. The Orlando community has provided us with a terrific pool of talent. Many of our employees have been with us for multiple years and we are happy to call them our friends as well as our colleagues. We are incredibly excited about what the future holds for Reservations.com!
There are multiple competitors in the online travel space. Why do customers choose you?
The travel industry has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. Travel used to be a human-driven purchase. Travelers would meet face-to-face with a travel agent who would carefully plan their entire journey. The upswell of the internet resulted in a shift towards an extremely low-touch, self-service model. This caused a relative commoditization of travel planning where the competition was mostly focused on cost.
At the same time, we saw consumer preferences towards travel changing. Travel was becoming more experiential. Travelers began to desire more complicated itineraries that valued their unique choices around accommodations, tours, restaurants, etc. This led us to the conclusion that the future of online travel will be heavily based on personalized service.
We offer our customers with 24/7 access to live agents to help with travel planning. We are also in the process of rolling out our R.Club loyalty program that will package experiential travel planning to our customers to create once-in-a-lifetime trips. At the end of the day, we compete by offering our customers a seamless and personalized reservation experience across channels, whether that be mobile, web, or phone based.
What does the future hold for Reservations.com? Where do you think the industry will evolve and what are you doing as a company to address this?
We are incredibly excited about the future of our business. It’s a privilege to be playing a role in defining the next generation of online travel.
There are a few different things we are focused on going forward. For one, we are looking at innovative ways to expand our inventory of hotel properties and bring our customers more choice. Secondly, we are exploring new and novel ways to deliver higher value to our customers. We have started to work with partners to offer event and ticket purchases alongside hotel accommodations. We are looking at expanding this into other experiences, like tours. Ultimately, we want Reservations.com to be positioned as an innovative lifestyle brand that customers can use for all of their reservation needs.
Our R.Club loyalty program is the next iteration of our company’s commitment to high-touch service. Members will be paired with a dedicated travel advisory team who can help customize itineraries and make tangential reservations for tours, restaurants, and other experiences. The travel advisory team is well versed in popular travel markets around the world and can provide unique insights into how to get the most out of your trip.
From a broader perspective, I believe that new advances in natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will completely redefine the way we deliver travel planning services to our customers. We are continually exploring ways to leverage these solutions to offer faster and more relevant recommendations.
I am confident that Reservations.com will be at the forefront of adopting these bleeding edge solutions. It’s an exciting time and we are extremely enthusiastic about how our space will be redefined in the years to come.
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