In 2010 my sister and I acquired a boutique hotel. Coming from an IT and tech background and still in my early 20s running a hotel was totally new for me. Despite it being something that I very much enjoyed, I soon became very aware of the day to day challenges that many hoteliers face and how time-consuming the work could be.
A lot of the work was manual data entry and given my background, I thought tech would provide a solution. However, at the time, I really struggled to find any suitable accommodation or hotel management software that helped with administration or the daily running of the hotel. Everything around was designed for larger providers and was either too pricey or complex, while on the flip side, software for smaller providers was too basic.
Standing at this crossroads is how Preno was born — a software platform designed for the owners and managers of boutique hotels. Preno makes it easy to manage bookings, create comprehensive guest profiles and analyse hotel metrics. This saves our users on average 10 hours a week, allowing them to actually focus on the things that matter, such as interacting with guests and providing great experiences.
Founded in 2014, our first six years were focused on building and scaling the business, something that we did successfully, but then in 2020 COVID hit and the tourism industry was gutted. The early months of COVID was a scary time for our business and even more so for our customers. At first, I wasn’t sure how we were going to survive.
However, despite the pandemic shaped curveball, we were able to adapt and help our customers to do the same. Fortunately, despite the various lockdowns, last year Preno grew by over 50% and we’re on track to grow by 120% this year. If someone would have told me those numbers in April last year, I would not have believed them.
The key to our survival and subsequent growth was our focus on the end-customer and this is advice I’d offer to anyone running their own business, you have to remain customer-obsessed.
Throughout the pandemic, we continued to stay in touch with our customers, guiding them where we could and also offering to freeze their subscriptions temporarily. Ultimately, I think our customers truly valued the data and analysis that Preno was able to provide during this time. Even when not accepting guests, users were able to use the data they had to draw insights and plan for the future — ensuring they were ready for the end of lock-down. Once again, we were helping them to solve problems.
In fact, I’m so proud to say that Preno customers, due to the automation and insights we provide, bounced back 20% faster after COVID than those that do not have a similar system in place.
From running my own hotel to helping others run theirs, my ultimate goal is to always serve our end customers as best as we can and help them with any challenges they may face. The hotel operators we work with go out of their way to help their guests and we try to do the same for them. I think it’s a worthy approach to take, it has underpinned Preno’s success and is a mindset I recommend for any business owner or manager.