Skift Take

Hotels are more open to trying new ideas as they recover financially post-pandemic. Enter firms like tech startup ResortPass, which is pitching itself as a new way to juice more revenues.

Series: Travel Tech Briefing

Travel Tech Briefing

Editor’s Note: Exclusive reporting on technology’s impact on the travel industry, delivered every Thursday. The briefing will guide executives as they decide if their companies should “build, buy, or partner” to stay ahead.

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Before the pandemic, the tech startup ResortPass had partnered with a little more than 100 hotels, offering a software platform that can book guests for day use of their amenities. 

Now, the startup partners with more than 900 hotels, including brands like Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Westin, Fairmont, W Hotels, and Hyatt Hotels. 

That fast growth speaks to hotels’ eagerness — desperation, maybe? — to increase revenue post-pandemic. 

The ResortPass customer software platform can market availability of a hotel’s amenities — spas, pools, fitness centers, meeting rooms, and more — and allow guests to use them during the day without needing to book an overnight stay. The company also offers hotel clients a software platform to manage that business on the backend. 

ResortPass argues that the traditional business model of a hotel is fundamentally flawed: If guests are not using a hotel’s amenities to their full capacity, why not open them up to travelers and locals for a fee? Airbnb basically had a similar idea but for a different industry; maybe that’s why AirAngels, the Airbnb alumni network, decided to invest in ResortPass in its recent round of $26 million.

Hotels have been adding software to increase efficiency, as Skift has reported multiple times. But there’s only so much that can be done to make the most of the dollars you already have. ResortPass is a standout — and even turned a couple of heads in the Skift newsroom — because its platform offers hotels a new revenue stream, not something that just makes existing operations easier. 

For the vast majority of the startup’s partners, this is the first time they are opening access to amenities without requiring an overnight stay at the hotel, according to Michael Wolf, ResortPass CEO. There have been more than 1.6 million bookings to date, with ResortPass getting a cut of the hotels’ new revenue.

“We have many hotel partners that we’ll send over a million dollars in revenue to. And in addition to that, they generate millions more in food and beverage and other ancillary revenue on top of the guests visiting the property,” Wolf said.

Founded in 2016, the startup’s newfound growth has led to the latest fundraise, with plans to expand geographically and strengthen the product. Wolf, a startup and venture capital veteran who is new to the travel industry, was recently hired to lead that business growth. He has a lot of work to do, with a market potential of 100,000 hotels. 

Profiting off of this underutilized space can also help hotels become a stronger part of the places where they are based, which could turn out to benefit everyone in the long-run.

“It really creates a relationship, often with the local community as well, in a way that they’ve never had,” Wolf said. “The lifetime value of someone who’s local could actually be quite a bit higher than a traveler.”

This may be the way that the industry has been headed all along, but like we’ve heard over and over again, the pandemic pushed it along. 

There are multiple ways Skift has reported about how hotels and other companies in the travel industry using tech to get more creative in their recovery post-pandemic:

  • Hotel companies including Bunkhouse Group, Highgate Hotels, Fairmont, Auberge Resorts have added a way to help guests book third-party events and tours on the hotels’ own websites. Each of those groups have contracted a service by startup Way, which was founded early in the pandemic as a way to manage that business for hotels. 
  • In a recent interview with Skift, an executive at the Mexico-based airline Volaris explained how new software there can track whether a customer has abandoned an online purchase and prompt a sales follow-up. The new revenue secured through that function has basically paid for the software. 
  • The CFO of Booking Holdings, David Goulden, gave updates during the Nasdaq investor conference on Wednesday about the company’s new flight offerings and payments features. Over 20 percent of customers booking flights through the online agency are brand new to the company, he said. After a couple of years ramping up a system that gives Booking more control over payments, the company expects to begin making a profit in that business next year. 
  • The pandemic also made way for new companies to find a growing niche in virtual experiences, especially for senior living homes, schools, and workplaces. 

Tags: booking holdings, hotel technology, online travel newsletter, revenue strategy, Skift Pro Columns, tourism, travel tech, Travel Tech Briefing

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