If you think about the traditional hotel business, there hasn’t been a ton of innovation. You mostly still stand in a line to check in, and sometimes even to check out. You let the staff know about your desire for privacy with a sign on the door. Mews believes it’s time to rethink how hotels work in a more modern digital context, especially on the administrative side, and today it announced a $33 million Series B led by Battery Ventures.
When Mews founder Richard Valtr started his own hotel in Prague in 2012, he wanted to change how hotels have operated traditionally. “I really wanted to change the way that hotel systems are built to make sure that it’s more about the experience that the guest is actually having, rather than facilitating the kind of processes that hotels have built over the last hundred years,” Valtr told TechCrunch.
He said most of the innovation in this space has been in the B2C area, using Airbnb as a prime example. He wants to bring that kind of change to the way hotels operate. “That’s essentially what Mews is trying to do. [We want to shift the focus to] the fundamental things about why we love to travel and why people actually love to stay in hotels, experience hotels, and be cared for by professional staff. We are trying to do that in a way that that actually delivers a really meaningful experience and personalized experience to that one particular customer,” he explained.
For starters, Mews is a cloud-based system that automates a lot of the manual tasks, like room assignments that hotel staff at many hotels often still have to handle as part of their jobs. Valtr believes by freeing the staff from these kinds of tedious activities, it enables them to concentrate more on the guests.
It also offers ways for guests and hotels to customize their stays to get the best experience possible. Valtr says this approach brings a new level of flexibility that allows hotels to create new revenue opportunities, while letting guests choose the kind of stay they want.
From a guest perspective, they could by-pass the check-in process altogether, sharing all of their registration details ahead of time and getting a pass code sent to their phone to get into the room. The system integrates with third-party hotel booking sites like Booking.com and Expedia, as well as other services, through its open hospitality API, which offers lots of opportunities for properties to partner with local businesses.
The company is currently operating at 1,000 properties across 47 countries, but it lacks a presence in the U.S. and wants to use this round to open an office in NYC and expand into this market. “We really want to attack the U.S. market because that’s essentially where most of the decision makers for all of the major chains are. And we’re not going to change the industry if we don’t actually change the thinking of the biggest brands,” Valtr said.
Today, the company has 270 employees spread across 10 offices around the world. Headquarters are in Prague and London, but the company is in the process of opening that NYC office, and the number of employees will expand when that happens.