ShortTermRentalz speaks to Andy McNulty, CEO of digital guest guidebook Touch Stay, after the company announced it was teaming up with StayinBath.org to create a travel app which encourages local spending.
- What makes Touch Stay’s travel app unique and how will it ensure that tourists are spending their money locally?
The unique element here is that Touch Stay has developed technology to allow us to easily partner with local tourism groups such as accommodation associations and DMOs. We combine our tech with their local expertise.
This ensures we each focus on what we are good at. We handle product, they handle content, and together we curate this combination with professional writers. Local accommodation owners (within the tourism group) can then customise it with their own content and branding, before sending it to their guests.
The result is an efficient way (cost and operational) to deliver rich and engaging content directly to tourists’ devices. This is an exceptional result for the guest who arrives in a new place and no longer has to waste a ton of time researching the area via Google or TripAdvisor.
In addition, the guest saves money by benefitting from locally negotiated discounts or promotional offers on the recommended local businesses. It is a quintuple (!) win: the guest, the accommodation owner, the tourism group, local business, and us.
- What have you learnt from the trials in Bath and Nashville that made you create this app in the first place? Were these useful in gauging public opinion on it?
These trials have been immense for our learning. As we expand in to other locations we are able to correct mistakes we made first time around. Ultimately it has helped us build a playbook to apply in each area. I have no doubt that with each new partnership we will constantly refine the playbook and improve the process… that is a good thing!
- You said that much of the success for Touch Stay is down to sustainable growth and enhancing customer experience – how important is it to retain a strong focus on both of these for the app to succeed?
It is absolutely vital. The customer experience is everything, and always has been since we started this business. Not just the end user (guests) but also the partners we work with (local tourism and accommodation owners).
Whilst we are doing this via technology, ultimately this is about maintaining the personal touch. We are people, our partners are people, and guests are people. We want that to reflect in everything we do.
I am also a firm believer that customer experience (which I would rephrase as old-fashioned satisfaction) is a core value for 2019 as more and more of us crave the basics of hospitality (good beds and sharp knives) coupled with something unique.
In my humble opinion, the “unique” requires curation, and curation still requires a human touch! This feeds sustainable growth because we are building human relationships, underpinned by a common goal to support local businesses for the benefit of everyone.
- In the industry in general, are companies like yours recognising the importance of working more closely with independent accommodation providers? How do you see this partnership with StayinBath.org shaping the direction of Touch Stay?
Companies in the short term rental industry (and the wider independent accommodation segment) have always recognised the importance of working closely with owners and managers.
It is how the industry began and, at heart, is still what the industry is about today. Sure, there is talk of “professionalising” the industry and we have seen some hotel groups try to enter the space. But it is not easy to scale something that is inherently personal and highly fragmented.
It works only by working with, and trusting in, local partners. They are the ones who have the local relationships, the expertise and, ultimately, the integrity in each local market.
We recognise that, and it is why we are incredibly committed to (and humbled by) the partnerships we are building with StayinBath.org, NASTRA, and a couple more soon to be announced!
- How are your plans progressing to introduce the platform across the UK?
We are already in talks with a number of local tourism groups in the US and the UK to build partnerships similar to those already in place. Our goal is to (actively) sit at the point where local tourism groups, local accommodation owners, and guests, all meet.
If there are any other local tourism groups that would like to know more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pull out all the stops to make something work!
Those seeking more information on the Touch Stay app can visit www.touchstay.com.