Next Thursday, we're delighted to once again be hosting a webinar with Amir Azulay, CEO of Chic Retreats. Our third webinar together, the entire focus is to detail exactly why Chic Retreats are becoming the true online champion of boutique hotels.
The 30 minute session (taking place at 2.00pm on Thursday 31st May) is being provided as a digital version of the event we proudly hosted with Chic Retreats on Monday.
Taking place in one of their partner venues, the Haymarket Hotel, it was a really great event; one that was well attended and pleasantly received by all.
The evening began with an introduction from Norm Peterson, CEO of GCV and was then complemented by a presentation from Amir Azulay, CEO of Chic Retreats. In addition to this there were several announcements and significant people invited to share their views at the event.
Amir and the Chic Retreats management team provided an excellent introduction to the company and the opportunity, which was shortly followed by the introduction of new NED Chairperson, Helen Webb.
Helen is joining Chic Retreats with a distinguished record in online travel, having previously been the UK MD of lastminute.com between 2000 and 2004, Helen grew revenues during her time here from £12m to £119m. With experience in both corporates and startups, Helen is excited to join the team and introduced herself on the evening as follows:
“I’m delighted to be joining Chic Retreats – not just because I am impressed by what they’ve built to date, but also – and mainly - because there is such strong opportunity to scale the business. I see the key to success quite simply – it’s about the ruthless pursuit of the very best offering for consumers - and then making sure we’re above the noise in terms of awareness.
There’s still lots planned and much to do in both respects, but I don’t think any of it is hard... there’s no-one else really grabbing the space – and Amir has built a strong and motivated team to do it with him. So I feel confident that we can achieve strong growth going forward.”
Hoteliers and industry specialists James Semenowycz, Hotelier and ex-MD of A Curious Group of Hotels, and Julian Houchin, Hotelier, Investor and NED, both gave their feedback on Chic Retreats, highlighting their thoughts and reasons for using the services within their own businesses.
James added his thoughts and experience to the presentation, saying:
“To understand why Chic Retreats is such a unique proposition for hoteliers and an industry disrupter, you need to understand the challenges that face independent hotels. Hotels are approached daily with various online / digital solutions that are either not brand appropriate, are premium / brand appropriate but cost prohibitive or require a large scale and level of investment not proportionate to size of business.
This is where Chic Retreats fills the giant gap in the market for independent hotels at a level of investment that is affordable for them. As a Chic hotel partner you become part of a vetted collection of hotels and reach a larger audience with your story, you receive access to partnerships that would otherwise be unattainable, you have a representation on meta search channels like Trivago and Skyscanner and you also benefit from targeted remarketing and paid social media campaigns. All of this is delivered at an annual cost of between £480 and £840.
Comparatively, digital agencies would charge upwards of £2k-£3k per month on a retainer to manage PPC, paid social and re-marketing campaigns alone, with additional transactional costs on top and recommend a level of investment that is not proportionate to the profitability of a small independent hotel.
Chic Retreats close this loop and offer independent hotels digital content and representation across a range of platforms that no one else offers, and at a price that hotels can afford.”
Julian’s inspiring words about Chic Retreats then followed, leaving us with two stand out points:
1. “Even for a 'leading' hotel you work with CR because a hotel needs a range of partners to drive hotel occupancy. What I really liked about CR is our partnership approach, not competing & our affordable solution for hotels of all sizes.”
2. “Chic provide data on your hotel's digital marketing that will help your hotel to perform better. The key points to note here are that: CR perform as digital experts on behalf of the hotelier and CR provide market/hotel data sources which they recommend we expand to our hotels. These two aspects of the CR service are very valuable as no-one else doing this.”
The key takeaway points from the evening were as follows:
- Online travel is fast becoming a $1tn/yr market
- Market data is showing that the fastest growing segment is boutique hotels due to the change in consumer demand - people want a local experience, to create a memory, be hosted as opposed to being a number
- 62% of the boutique hotels industry is the independents which is estimated to be over $10bn/yr, yet this market is underserved and it is increasingly difficult for the hotels to be discovered online due to underhanded tactics by the large online travel agencies who hijack their brand and other operators that undercut them
- Due to its sheer size online travel is an extremely fragmented market and very hard for a small hotelier without technology or online digital skills to understand who to work with. They land up using many providers which is inefficient and costs them a lot of money
- Chic Retreats is fully focused on aggregating this fast growing market segment and being their true representation partner, championing their cause. CR has created a marketplace that allows the hotelier to be part of a handpicked brand, be curated, their story told and then distributed online both on the CR channels and across the internet at large through the price comparison meta channels.
The Chic Retreats team are enthusiastic and driven about the prospect of aggregating these hotels, under a quality brand with a scalable model that provides the participating hotels with the technology and digital marketing skill-set they need in affordable, bite sized chunks that suit their budgets. To develop the Chic platform, the team met with over 400 hotels to plan, design and build the solution, specifically designed for small independent boutique hotels. Consequently, Chic Retreats are well placed to capture and aggregate this market and through the use of advanced technology and data analytics they can create engaged hotels.
Amir and the team at Chic are keen to have further conversations with anyone who is interested in finding out more information. The investment opportunity, currently live on the GrowthFunders platform 62% at a quantum of £625,000, has also undergone a financial restructure this week. As the campaign has progressed, the Management Team at Chic Retreats constantly review feedback from key stakeholders including current investors and potential investors.
The team continue to make good progress and want to make sure the business has the financial resources it needs to realise the next phase of growth. With this in mind they have listened carefully to feedback from current investors and from potential investors in this proposed round and have decided to review the company’s pre money valuation.
Improved terms for investors - what does this mean for investors in this round via GrowthFunders?
The Chic Management team have decided to improve terms for potential investors in this round by reducing the pre-money valuation to £4 million from £8 million.
In short this is very positive news. It means investors will receive an increased equity stake stake / increased number of shares within the business. For example, a total £1.5 million investment at an £8 million pre-money valuation would have acquired 15.8% stake in the business.
With the new £4 million pre-money valuation a total investment of £1.5 million will acquire a 27.3% stake in the business.
Join us for the webinar
All potential investors into Chic Retreats are invited to join us next Thursday to find out more about the industry in which Chic Retreats are operating in and why they're doing their utmost to champion boutique hotels right around the world.
As with all of our webinars, attendees will be able to join in with our live Q&A, and the session will be recorded in full, so if you are unable to join us on the day, please do still register and watch on-demand at your convenience.