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- Whiich is on Twitter
- Thank You. 600+ owners have registered.
- More inspiration about building Whiich.com
- To owners - Why is Whiich free?
- Who we are?
We launched Whiich.com in Aug 2008. Currently we are in the process of acquiring owners to try out the site. I’m pretty happy that we have attracted about 600+ owners worldwide so far over the past 2 months.
Even though there are a few owners who wanted to be removed from the site, I was not discouraged, because there are more owners who thank us, and said they like our design and wish to give it a try. For those who wish to be delisted, only one of them replied to my email– the owner of King’s cottage from Pennsylvania told me the truth: (And to thank for his honesty, I linked his site here)
Free listings are never really free. Time is money. It takes my time to keep my listings updated on “free” sites”. And there are hundreds of free sites. I keep our inn listed only on the handful of major B&B websites which bring in the majority of our bookings.
Okay, I got that. That is very true. And it keeps my brain storming again about how to solve this inefficient problem for the owners. Having to manage a bunch of sites, and not knowing how efficient they are is really a headache. We too, have started to facing this multi-channels problem for our Bed and breakfast in Shanghai (Quintet Bnb). But I want to emphasize again- Whiich.com is truly a free directory. And if he takes more time to understand our site, our design, our vision, I believe Whiich is heading to a direction that no other free directory can compete with.
Whiich.com is still very young; while we cannot demonstrate our efficiency yet, I am confident that we are set in the right direction. We are avid travelers and we operate an bnb of our own. We understand the problems; hence, we are committed to helping owners and building Whiich into a best marketing site for independent owners.
We’re avid independent travelers ourselves and like to stay at interesting hotels/B&Bs/guesthouses whenever we can. We often spend a lot of time doing our research on the accommodation choices, and we find the process inefficient.
1. Information scattered and outdated - We tend to use guide books such as Lonely Planet as our starting point; however, we’re increasingly finding these annually updated materials to be obsolete or incomplete. We also try to search on-line for pertinent information but the search results are a hodge-podge of past articles and blogs, mixed in with booking and review site listings.
2. Mainstream choices do not necessary address our needs – Most hotel booking and review sites have more comprehensive selection, but what you get is a list or ranking based on standard criteria. We are not looking for just a place to sleep, but various experiences that we can get from staying at the place, such as offering from surrounding environments, cultural activities, and spiritual retreats etc. What we want is the ability to discover options by what unique experiences that each property can offer. Such info is best provided of the hotel’s own websites.
3. Hotel’s own websites are hard to find - The accommodation’s own websites, while being the most informative, are often under-promoted; they either have low visibility in search engines due to lack of internet marketing budgets, resources, and know-how, or are intentionally hidden by booking and referral sites.
In short, these resources are helpful, but they are still very fragmented and limited when it comes to discovering unique and interesting accommodation options. Whiich is designed to organize hotel choices around traveler experiences that the hotels can offer.
Several owners have asked me if we are going to charge for the service later on.
No, we will not charge listing fee ever or the basic bulletin board service.
The simple answer is:
Whiich is a free directory contributed by both owners and travelers. We welcome everyone here. We want to create an open dynamics between owners and travelers. We invite owners to play the role of local marketing and help our travelers to gain more local insights when they travel. Yes, do as the Romans do.
The business answer is:
Listing and booking fees are traditional revenue model, and we do not think they fit our vision. We will be looking into new ways to help owners boost occupancy. And we believe there will be room for monetization in this area. We will experiment our ideas as we go and learn from our owners.
My name is Yuhsin Chen. I founded this website with my best friend and travel buddy Fay Yen in 2008. You can call me Sydney, but I prefer Yuhsin -my Chinese name.
I’ve been wanted to write up our stories but got too busy launching the site.
So here’s a little background first –
To show some credibility here (I hope this helps market our site): I graduated from Stanford and Fay graduated from Berkeley in mid 1990s. Fay and I had worked at eBay in product management and marketing for 5 years until 2007. eBay is a great company. It had trained us well and treated us well.
Like everyone else, it has been my dream to start a web business, and last year, Fay and I decided that it’s time for us to embark on our own venture. With a little savings from our eBay employee stock options, we founded Whiich.com.
Since we love to travel, we wanted to do something relating to travel. When we travel, we always prefer to stay at independent hotels with personality, so we decided to zero in on helping travelers find interesting accommodation options. We also think that we can help small hotel owners better market their properties to potential customers directly, by providing an easy-to-use platform. eBay is about helping small business owners, so it may have had a strong influence on how we decided whom we want to serve.
How do we make money?
This is the most common question that’s being asked so far.
Traditional websites that charge listing fee is no longer a competitive model. The margin for middlemen (booking agents) is also diminishing. We know we are going away from the traditional listing and booking model for sure. We have several ideas, but we will have to do some experiments and learn from our owner users. Our goal is to help owners increase occupancy and realized room rate, and if we succeed, we believe there is monetization opportunity for the value we create.
Fay is also building a brick-and-mortar bed and breakfast business in Shanghai. Its called Quintet Bed and Breakfast. (Opening 2008 Sep). So hopefully, we can learn more insights about hotel business from running a B&B ourselves.
That’s it for now. I will share more stories later.