Journey Hospitality on course for exponential growth as it brings the guest and hotelier closer together

Journey Hospitality on course for exponential growth as it brings the guest and hotelier closer together

Hospitality technology business, Journey Hospitality, has set its sights on revolutionising hospitality e-commerce. It works with more than 400 luxury hotel property customers and with its new e-commerce platform, guests can shape their own stay by booking rooms, spa, dining and retail products in a single shopping basket. Simon Bullingham, founder and CEO of the Cheltenham-based company, told Intelligent more about how they want to shake up the industry with technology that addresses key e-commerce challenges within hotels.

Hotel technology business, Journey Hospitality, has secured £5 million growth capital investment. The funds, from private equity firm, Averroes Capital, will enable Journey to deliver its vision to revolutionise e-commerce for the hospitality industry.

This is the first growth funding raise for the organically grown company since it was established in 2010. Following the successful launch of onejourney – an all-in-one e-commerce platform for hotels – Journey will use the funding to advance product development and achieve market expansion.

Journey Hospitality has more than 400 luxury hotel property customers worldwide. In the past year, its annual software revenue has grown by 151%, with revenue forecast set to grow rapidly in the next 12 months.

The investment will support the development and scaling up of its technology platform worldwide and be used to enhance Journey’s team as the headcount increases to more than 100 staff in the short-term.

Journey’s founder and CEO, Simon Bullingham, said: “The investment will help us achieve long-term growth and shake up the industry with technology that addresses key e-commerce challenges within hotels. We have worked alongside luxury hotels for over a decade and pride ourselves in truly understanding their business.

“Our latest platform, onejourney – the world’s first unified ecommerce platform for hotels – addresses a key pain point for hoteliers and maximises property profitability.”

Simon Bullingham told Intelligent more about its ‘Shopify for hotels’ onejourney platform.

How did Journey begin – what gap in the market did you see?

Journey Hospitality started in 2010 as a digital marketing agency for hospitality businesses. Over the years, we’ve pivoted to pioneer new technology as we noticed the need for hotels to transform their direct booking strategy. In tandem, our team’s portfolio of expertise has evolved – and will continue to do so – as we look to stay ahead of the fluid digital landscape.

Today, we are a hotel e-commerce and technology business with a digital performance studio. Working with high-end hotels and resorts globally, our technology includes onejourney, the world’s first all-in-one e-commerce platform and Gifted, the UK’s leading gift voucher platform. Our agency services include website delivery and digital marketing.

Our core belief is digital success for hospitality, making it easier for hoteliers to operate and grow their business. From clawing back direct bookings from the digital-first powerful Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to broadening their retail abilities beyond bedrooms, Journey’s solutions bring the guest and hotelier more closely together.

How did you grow your client list?

We partner with more than 400 luxury hotels from The Londoner and Beaverbrook to Harbour Hotel Group and Soneva in the Maldives. Ultimately, we’ve grown our client list because we’re well trusted by hoteliers. We’ve been in this industry for 12 years and pride ourselves in getting to know our hotel partners and understanding their needs. Our commercial relationships are true partnerships; we work with hotels who want to improve their business performance and are innovative and forward-thinking. We have clients who have been with us from the very beginning and a retention rate of over 96%, testament to the ROI our team achieves.

Tell me more about onejourney – which key pain point for hoteliers does it address?

Hotels frequently run on multiple operating systems, with different booking technology for each business area such as bedrooms, restaurants and spas. This means most hotels simply aren’t able to offer a real-time booking across their whole portfolio. If a guest wants to book a spa weekend, they often have to rely on a hotel representative emailing or calling to confirm the treatment. It’s messy for hoteliers but even messier for guests, resulting in a highly fragmented online booking experience.

Launched in March 2022, onejourney is our all-in-one ecommerce platform. It’s like Shopify for hotels and lets guests shape their own stay by booking rooms, spa, dining and retail products in a single shopping basket.

Typically, we’re seeing increased revenues of 40-60%, with approximately 30% of orders featuring multiple products – combinations of hotel room, spa treatment, restaurant booking, plus retail offerings.

Wider e-commerce trends show customers want to be unbound by a business’s operating hours, and we see hotel website traffic peak at 8pm when most reservation teams have gone home for the day. onejourney works with existing hotel operational and booking systems to provide real-time availability, letting guests book 24/7.

Successful retail is also about choice – unbundling and guest customisation is growing, with hospitality industry data showing 87% of guests are more likely to book hotels with a la carte pricing. Hotels need to give guests greater opportunities to personalise their stay, and onejourney does that by intelligently showcasing products and services across the whole hotel, letting guests book more specific itineraries such as a 7pm dining reservation, a room upgrade and take-home personalised bathrobes all in one basket.

Shifting the mindsets of hoteliers from sellers of rooms to a wider retail approach is essential. There are areas of hotels which are currently undersold because they aren’t accessible to online shoppers. Switching to an e-commerce approach unlocks huge returns and represents an exciting direction for the industry. We’ve recently added Google Pay and Apple Pay mobile wallets to onejourney platform, giving guests even more flexibility in how they book their hotel experiences and will continue to develop the product to facilitate the smoothest digital journey for guests.

When was Gifted introduced and how popular is it?

We introduced our gift voucher platform Gifted in 2016. Gift vouchers are incredibly popular across all types of retail and service businesses, and the sales of digital gift vouchers is consistently growing. Gifted is the top gift voucher platform in the UK market, used by hotels, such as The Ned, Claridge’s and Chewton Glen. We see it as an essential part of our wider promise to hoteliers to improve the way they sell their portfolios of products and services.

Tell me more about your career history – did you work in hotels before?

While I haven’t worked in hotels, a number of our team have, including our CFO, Gwyn Hicks, our Commercial Director, Elli Regan and many of our client team. This gives us an important balance of inside knowledge, helping us deeply understand our clients and their challenges, and ‘outside thinking’ which can bring fresh ideas to the industry. My background is in sales and marketing across a range of industries, with roles as a business and marketing consultant, but hospitality always interested me. The ethos of service and providing memorable experiences for their customers is universal and we carry that at the heart of Journey.

How do you recruit people with the right digital skills?

Journey’s team is integral to our success, and many have developed their skills through training as part of our company evolution. We work with local universities to recruit more junior roles, while our more senior team come from a range of industries and are often recommended to us – or us to them! Skills are important but ultimately, it’s about attitude: we recruit people who are ambitious, unafraid to shake things up and who think differently.

There’s a misunderstanding that cities like London or Edinburgh dominate the tech landscape. While they may be home to huge multinational brands, there’s exciting technology companies based in almost every corner of the UK. On the Edge of the Cotswolds, we’re able to offer work/life balance that companies in big cities aren’t able to.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue


View Magazine Archive