Simplotel-Designed Website & Booking Engine Enhances Guest Experience
“That’s where I want to live the rest of my life — a warm place with no memory,” is what Tim Robbins tells Morgan Freeman in IMDB’s top rated movie of all time, The Shawshank Redemption. The beautiful beach depicted after Robbins’ prison break in the film is in Zihuantanejo (Mexico), where Casa Solana is located.
The bed and breakfast (BnB) boutique hotel was started by Sriram Ramachandran and Melissa Denlinger in January 2014. The couple based in the US had first visited Zihuantanejo in 2001. After numerous visits to various parts of Mexico, they decided to set up base in the beautiful resort city known for its beaches, galleries and seafood.
Casa Solana is a collection of six luxury studio apartments. With such a beautiful hotel nestled on the hillside overlooking Zihuantanejo Bay, Sriram and Melissa wanted to convey the same message to a global audience. And thus began their search for a website provider. “During our research, we came across Simplotel. We loved the websites that they had built. They offered flexibility in customization and had also provided great designs. Also, one of the main reasons we decided to go with Simplotel is because they also provided a booking engine solution,” says Melissa.
Sriram adds, “We loved the fact that Simplotel specializes in small hotels, which include BnBs. It was a tailor-made solution for us. We didn’t want another online travel agency (OTA), but someone whose core business was the hospitality sector.”
Casa Solana onboarded Simplotel in 2016, making it the Bengaluru-based SaaS provider’s first international customer. Within a year, there was a jump in direct bookings.According to Melissa, direct bookings now account for 70% of total bookings which was 30% earlier.
Additionally, if you read reviews about Casa Solana on various travel websites, guests have praised the hospitality of both Melissa and Sriram, who provide a personalized experience.
Sriram says, “In the last couple of years we did see a jump in direct bookings. We also have repeat guests. When they want to come back, they know about our website and they know about us. So repeat guests have always booked through our website.”
The couple believes that guest experience on the hotel website improved after Casa Solana onboarded Simplotel. “Reservation through our website provided us with the confidence that our guests wouldn’t cancel. We have a higher cancellation rate with OTAs. Since guests book through our website, they develop a personal connection with our hotel and feel confident it is a legitimate business. Additionally, our cancellation policies are reasonable,” says Sriram.
The couple also had some advice for budding entrepreneurs who want to enter the hospitality industry. They believe that you should start out small and always expand based on demand. As competition and disruption is always high, the middle market is shrinking. Therefore, customers either want expensive luxury hotels or budget hotels. The key to survival in this industry is to have a competitive price point.