These are interesting times at FindHotel and this post should give potential newcomers a real glance at what it is like to build the category-defining company that FindHotel aims to be.
We recently launched one of our two landmark projects for this year, Arc, a robust, fully automated, campaign-building tool for search marketing campaigns, which we believe is one of the best in the world. The second project is our new website, which is only days away from being rolled out to most of our traffic. It is the platform that allows us to quickly improve the consumer-facing FindHotel.
We set ambitious goals for the impact that these two projects will have in terms of conversion improvement and growth in both users and number of bookings in 2016, which we are on track to meet. Everyone on the team is contributing directly to one of these two projects, with both product and user-acquisition squads working together towards these two symbiotic goals. Each squad is dependent on the other to deliver their goal, as meeting one goal alone won’t give us the growth we need. We need to achieve both.
At the same time, growing the team has surged from 12 to 27 members in a year (nearly all of whom are specialists in their technical crafts), a clear sign that times are a-changing: the team is growing not only in both number and capabilities, but also maturing in quality, as the average age, experience, and ambition grow with every hire we make.
We are building a company that can scale with the goal of designing a new product category: a hotel booking marketplace, which is somewhere between what an OTA (Booking.com, Hotels.com) and the traditional metasearch offers (Trivago, Hotelscombined).
In the near future, I will write more about our product vision and point-of-view to explain how we believe the future of hotel booking will evolve.
Hint on our growth & scale: This illustration shows how global our customer coverage already is, and we are only getting started.
Building a category, in a market as large and competitive as online accommodation, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. In our current stage, almost every person has the chance to design his or her role, while getting the opportunity to go far beyond what the ‘job description’ says. Front end developers need to understand their users and come up with product feature test ideas. Product owners need to scour external resources while keeping their team focused on priorities that move the needle, but are also achievable within a quarter.
Leaders need to spend a good portion of their time on recruiting, while leading their teams to ambitious goals with plenty of uncertainties and dependencies.
I think that all of this is particularly hard as we are not a poster child company of Amsterdam or online accommodation. We still prefer to keep a low profile, and our exposure as an organization is limited to recruiting purposes. That too will change soon, with its perks and perils.
Couple this challenge with the fact that building a global hotel product (over 1M hotels, customers booking from 200+ countries every week), means that there are few easy ‘hacks’ that can move the needle. Much of our growth comes from long-term, data enabled, high complexity projects that take time to mature; patience, long-term planning, and self-confidence are all necessary ingredients for someone to succeed at FindHotel.
If you are someone who wants to leave your mark in the world, design a new category in a competitive niche, and can work hard and smart for the long term, then FindHotel might be the place for you. We have plenty of room for growth and will constantly be adding new positions as we grow. Plus – it’s a fun place where we work, eat & play together while doing our best to enjoy the ride (or sail :).