I believe in connection, experiencing culture and inspiration through travel. Hotels not as a place like home, but to broaden horizons or to reflect and unplug. Authentic, soulful, stylish, independent, local, sustainable, cultured. Contemplation in a monk’s cell to indulgent five star luxury and everything in between. Minimalism or over-the-top baroque interiors. A secluded tropical beach or mountain top refuge. Wine or beer, or both (or as you see some champagne). There is so much beauty in this world.
All of my life I have been fascinated with hotels. As a kid I collected everything I could lay my hand on regarding to hotels: brochures, newspapers snippets, travel magazines and guides. Other kids were reading comics, I was most happy with my Michelin guide. When in another city or country I would contact hotels to say “I love hotels, can I see your place?” I hardly never got turned down and even got some newspaper articles written about me.
Needless to say I opted for a career in hospitality. Instead of going to a hotel school, I enrolled in marketing communications – the area I was most interested in. After my studies I ended up by chance in the area of social housing. That may seem a long way from where I was heading, however basically it is also providing a roof to sleep under.
The love for hotels never was any less. I still would surf the internet for the latest places to stay (by then the “design hotel” was introduced and later the “boutique hotel”) and to see what was happening in the hospitality business, like new brands being introduced.
After some years I decided to use the information gathered to serve others after being introduced to affiliate marketing. Meaning I could even make a buck out of it referring clients to travel websites. stylehotelsweb, which focused on design hotels, was launched. A bit later charmhotelsweb followed showcasing small, usually family-owned hotels, guest houses and b&b’s. Later, stylehotelsweb turned into DNA Hotels and remains until today. It features a crafted, idiosyncratic selection of properties under the banner “for people who care where they stay”.
THE NAME DNA HOTELS CAME TO ME AFTER READING AN INTERVIEW WITH TOM FORD SAYING “FASHION IS IN HIS DNA”. CERTAINLY HOTELS ARE IN MINE.
For years I was doing affiliate marketing, “selling” others websites on my own and making a buck or two on commissions. The way the OTA’s (online travel agent, like Booking.com or Expedia) and mostly large hotelchains were exploiting affiliate marketing got me thinking that independent hotels and smaller chains could also benefit from affiliate marketing. I introduced Affiliotel to offer the expertise and volume only the big players in the market were using. Not to mention being a great tool to attract more direct bookings and become less dependent on the OTA’s and their high commissions. I believe OTA’s have unfair business practices, often misleading customers and taking out a huge slice of a hotel’s profit – eventually driving up prices as the guest pays in the end.
The current crisis has me made reflect on my business model. Basically it resulted in going back to my roots. I want to help (independent) hoteliers and hosts (DNA Hotels is not about hotels only, but also about other inspirational places to stay) to become less dependent – or even independent – on the OTA’s with a fair business practice. I believe that if you own or operate a property which is different you are not represented well on the OTA websites. Like when you own a small, stylish boutique hotel you are presented in the same manner as the local Ibis Hotel. Only price dictates the offer, nothing more than a place to close your eyes. No search possibilities for an architecturally outstanding hotel, rooms in a vineyard, an unusual art collection, not even size.
Why DNA Hotels is different? With great copy, storytelling (as enjoyed by Google too nowadays) in a blog style, superb Pinterest pages, fixed rates, reviews by the Hotel Writers Collective, co-op referrals and out-of-the-box, creative marketing, I offer are a true alternative to OTA’s and expensive marketing agencies – keeping money in your pockets and ultimately of guests too.
(a safe) bon voyage, Chiel