Startup - Getaroom
Getaroom is a new travel startup venture by the former Hotels.com founders David Litman and Bob Diener. The venture started as humble vacation rentals in Orlando, and grew to be a head on competitor with other OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) Orbitz, Hotels.com, Priceline, etc. Currently, they get about 250k unique visitors a month.
Getaroom uses the merchant model of selling hotel rooms to travelers and has contracts with hotels for exclusive inventory.
Darcy was commissioned at the beginning of this project to build the technology and team to get the project from a concept to a steady business.
Darcy's involvement was broken into three phases: idea to demo, demo to live and live to steady business. Darcy was in charge of all the technology decisions up to and including hiring the company's CTO after launch.
Phase 1: Idea to demo, 2 months (Darcy was solo technologist)
During this phase, the business started as Vacation Rentals and realigned with targeting the OTA market. Hotel contract sales in the established market were due to 1) the state of the economy, 2) industry credibility of Hotels.com founders, and possibly most importantly 3) new and better offering for hotels.
The discovery phase included understanding the merchant model and the current state of the OTA industry, and understanding the hotel mindset as to how we could successfully sell to them. The new offering we provided centered around giving hotels control of their inventory, rates, and information. The interface and functionality for giving this control was completely done by Darcy including brainstorming, IA, wire-framing, and implementation. The new interface was met with eager anticipation by hotels which paved the way to a launch with hundreds of hotel contracts.
Phase 2: Demo to Launch, 3 months (Darcy was architect and primary developer)
Launch of 10 markets and around 500 hotels with individual inventory. This included a front-end application for travelers to book rooms based on availability, rates and locations. Bookings were transferred to a backend system we developed for processing and to then be delivered and confirmed by hotels, and reconciled with the accounting system, Great Plains. The backend system also integrated with external inventory management aggregators using our API.
By launch, the team had grown to around 6.
Phase 3: Launch to Steady State, 8months (Darcy was lead architect and lead developer)
Darcy helped build out the team that now runs the site, including processes put in place to allow them to grow and maintain at the fast pace we had started. Over the eight months, Getaroom introduced new features every week, including complicated promotion systems, opaque rates, european markets and multiple currencies, and many more domestic markets and API ingestions.
Getaroom continues to grow at a healthy pace that has other OTAs constantly trying different tactics to impede them. It remains one of the best case studies of how a Rails application can grow to meet the needs of an emerging player in an existing and well-established market.