Special Report: On a global level, the hotel industry has followed a long-term trend towards booking systems that are operated by third-party channels providers. But Aussie tech entrepreneurs Matt Taylor and Luke Young have spotted an opportunity for disruption with reZme \u2013 a new direct-booking platform for hotel stays. For Taylor, the inspiration behind the idea was borne out by observing cost-creep in the booking process, during an eight-year career as Asia-Pac General Manager, Marketing for the NYSE-listed Choice Hotels group. \u201cWhat we're trying to do is empower hotels to be able to take control of their bookings,\u201d Taylor said, effectively reversing the growing influence of third-party booking channels. \u201cA lot of hotels are paying pretty exorbitant commissions now which are detrimentally impacting their bottom line and in turn guest rates.\u201d Taylor said there had been a push in the industry over the last three to four years to try and drive direct bookings. \u201cBut we don't think the tech capability has existed for hotel operators to 1. easily and 2. cost effectively be able to actually implement such a strategy,\u201d he said. \u201cSo there\u2019s a disconnect\u00a0there and our platform tries to overcome that. We give hotel customers the tools they need to be able to have a comprehensive, high converting strategy around that book-direct message.\u201d Funding strategy To push forward with its next phase of growth, reZme is taking expressions of interest (EOI) from investors on the Birchal crowdfunding platform until September 21. Taylor and Young said the company was attracted to the crowdfunding method because it provided a pathway for retail investors to gain access to deals that were typically only available to sophisticated or high net-worth investors. Another benefit is on the consumer side, where crowdfunding has proved to be a successful way for consumers to further engage with brands and products they like. \u201cOur service is aimed at helping the hotel industry, but it\u2019s also beneficial for consumers because you'll always get a better deal when you book direct through a hotel compared to third party,\u201d Taylor said. \u201cWe want to push that message and get people into that thought process when they're booking, and if they are actively invested in that it will help everyone.\u201d Taylor said the company had already received commitments of $180,000 in the first week of the EOI process. In addition, feedback from the Birchal team indicates the level of investment received is tracking significantly higher than the average campaign. \u201cI think that shows the value of our brand, and wanting to get involved. Our\u00a0own website traffic -- from both investors and prospective hotel clients -- has also been through the roof, in terms of the interest we've created,\u201d Taylor said. Early traction Since launching in January, the company already has a 25-strong client base, many of whom came on board to help test the product and swiftly moved to become paying customers. Young explained that on the product side, reZme added value by providing a streamlined content management system, booking engine s and access to all digital marketing tools under the same roof. \u201cWhen we assess a new client\u2019s current systems, often we find they have about 10-15 different logins across multiple platforms. So now they can go to one central location and manage their website, bookings, email marketing, social media and all other channels,\u201d Young said. \u201cSo it\u2019s a much more productive experience from an admin point of view, which flows through to a better front-facing service for end users.\u201d While noting that travel and tourism has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor said it also provided a silver lining for reZme as hospitality companies emerged from the crisis. The company\u2019s platform utilises a monthly subscription model, where clients can already see the cost benefits when compared with trailing commissions paid to third party channels. \u201cI think what\u2019s come out of the crisis is that hotels have recognised the need to reassess their cost base,\u201d Taylor said. \u201cAnd the biggest impact to their cost base over recent years is the increase\u00a0in commissions they're paying to third party travel agents. \u201cSo our ability to come in and drive an engaging strategy around direct bookings has really helped. And in that sense, we haven\u2019t done a lot of outbound marketing with hotels \u2013 they\u2019ve wanted to talk to us.\u201d Looking ahead, Young said the company\u2019s focus for the next six to 12 months was to establish its business model in the Australian market \u2013 particularly given the ongoing complications around international travel. However, both founders believe the model is globally scalable with no direct competitor. \u201cIn terms of the global opportunity, we\u2019re taking our time there to ensure we set up the right partner network, and build out our knowledge in those spaces,\u201d Young said. \u201cBut it\u2019s obviously a big opportunity, with an addressable market of 700,000 accommodation providers globally. In Australia we've got around 7,000 properties we can target at the moment. \u201cSo it\u2019s definitely a medium-term opportunity, after those initial \u00a0six to 12 months when we've built out the remaining aspects of our platform.\u201d For more information about reZme and their equity crowdfunding raise, visit www.birchal.com\/company\/rezme This article was developed in collaboration with\u00a0 reZme, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing. This article does not constitute financial product advice. 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