Ep. 520 w/ Shawn Tarter President RealTime Reservation

RealTime Reservation was conceived with a singular mission: to enhance the guest experience while providing management with innovative technology to better target sales opportunities and manage operations.

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Kevin Horek: Welcome back to the show today. We have Sean tarter. He's the president at real-time reservations. Sean, welcome to the show.

Shawn Tarter: Thanks for having me.

Kevin Horek: I'm excited to have you on the show. I think what you guys are doing is really innovative and cool. And, but before we get into that, let's get to know you better and start off with where you grew up.

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. I grew up in a town of Oceanside. It's the suburbs of New York city on long island.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. Okay. So you went to university. What did you take and why?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah, it's always been a passion to get into finance and marketing. I went to university of Albany that's in New York and then wound up living in New York city for a while, right after that working in the banking sector, but it's always been through marketing and through finance and then eventually through the operations side of the world.

Kevin Horek: Okay. What got you interested about finance and marketing?

Shawn Tarter: I always thought it was an interesting way to look at creating products that actually had use from the end user side. I always, I was always interested in the idea of the consumer deciding what they wanted and it was going to supply the consumer and exactly what they wanted as opposed to it being driven from the company. I was always very interested in terms of how you can market products that have appeal on the consumer side. The demand is driven by the consumer demand as opposed to try to create a product that hopefully somebody will purchase.

Kevin Horek: Fast. I think most people don't think about that side or that angle in a lot of cases.

Shawn Tarter: I great. We see that in every business and every part of what we do.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. What exactly is real-time reservation and how did it come to be?

Shawn Tarter: Real-time reservation today is it a much different place than it was nine years ago when we started? So we are a pre-arrival platform. I was fully integrated into hotel structure where guests can come before they arrive there and they could order all things from cabanas, despite activities, food, and beverage, whatever they want to do when they get to the property. Well, ahead of time, it takes a lot of the stress out of their journey. When they're actually on property, through QR codes and through integrations, the hotel staff is able to provide further customization for the packages and the guests could upgrade their journey, however, which way they want it.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. Let's talk about some of the early day of what was it when it first launched and how have you evolved it to what it is today? Because it obviously it's a long journey and that's a long time of being in business. With the pandemic, it kind of throws a whole other aspect of this whole thing.

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. We still want, I was looking at more of the operation side of this, we pretty much went at a previous exit in a financial software company, and it was more about learning hospitality, understand the industry, looking at in the Caribbean, how, cabanas and how umbrellas were actually handed out to hotel guests. It was about a two year study. We didn't charge hotels for this at all. I just had a group of folks that were with me at the time. It was still with me today. They just want them to solve an industry. Problem of guests lining up at five o'clock in the morning for their spot in the sun, realizing that the concierge team was a hundred miles away. The staff at the pool and beach area were handing out paper tickets and tracking stuff on paper. Obviously you're the one and paper's not the best way to handle being on the water.

Shawn Tarter: Even the hotels that were more advanced, they were still using Excel spreadsheets and didn't really have an inventory management system. We spent about two years directly working with the hotels to understand customer demand, what the customer wanted and also how the recreation team could avoid double bookings and the basic stuff that you have when you don't have a real system in place. It took quite a while before we even wanted to have a paying customer, because we want them to really understand this industry, the business and the pressure on the staff. We always figured that if you can relieve the pressure from the hotel staff side, the guests at a much better experience.

Kevin Horek: No, that makes a lot of sense. Okay. Where you taking feedback then constantly from hotels to build the product and guests, or how did you evolve the product and find new features?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah, were completely led by the hotels and then the brands that were wet, we are, we started out with were global brands. All of a sudden they realized that we needed to get certain compliance. How do you take a credit card payment and how do you do it by the brand standard way? And how do you get real integrations? How do you work with Oracle and agilists to get real integrations at the micro symphony at info Genesis to the opera and how do you do it right way? How do you work with the amazing global brands that we are today to get on cue integration? Once we got the integrations on board and we realized that the guests should pay ahead of time to reserve their place, because you want to prevent no shows, you want to have a cancellation policy. It was like you do all hotel rooms.

Shawn Tarter: The hotel is able to capture revenue upfront. When the guests arrives on property, that they can recognize the revenue in the property. In a point of sale system, often you have a perfect transaction, cause you're, you're getting money upfront to reserve as a hotel. You're also processing the payment, which makes the finance and accounting teams very happy when the guests get there. Because we had these two points of accepting money for the guests, for the hotel and for the hotel to process money, all of a sudden it became, what do you want to put in the shopping cart? What else do you want to provide the guests? Went from one product of umbrellas to cabanas, to all of a sudden activities, food and beverage, but we're working closely with the spa companies. You started realizing that we're an entire platform that we are today, really across the board from marina to what a tennis to kids club, because it's the same structure of how you deal with payments and how you deal with integrations.

Shawn Tarter: Also making sure that the brand standards are there, they use the terms and conditions or what the global brands are saying. You kind of taking the guesswork away. You wind up building a company that we started nine years ago, completely led by the brands and the hotel with our points. We have technology advancements in there, but what do they need operationally and how they process payments, capture revenue. Now we keep developing more products for the hotels. Now we've got the parking and all different concepts of inventory because we did it the right way in the beginning. All of our products are related to inventory management.

Kevin Horek: Got it. Okay. Or how did you land your first hotel?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah, I mean, it's, were the only ones in the space and we basically, I was on vacation. I was in a Ruba and waiting online for an umbrella in the sand and their fixed structures that a certain amount and the guests were upset. They were complaining, they were lining up at five o'clock in the morning, all the usual guests stuff. And I just had a previous exit. I'm on vacation with my family with no intention of building more software. I wound up emailing a few of the GMs and Aruba, and I got three emails back within five minutes from the GMs. And they said, can you help us? One of those sending a few of my guys down to a robot for the first three or four days, I've got the amount of days and they sat with the recreation teams and I was with the GM and were slowly kind of just watching this experiment happen of how to build a product and how to build it based direct need on the recreation, out on the operations side of the recreation teams.

Shawn Tarter: We started building products for them that was strictly operation focus. Eventually the revenue teams got ahold of us and said, we actually can do well here. The properties could actually do well here. We can create experiences for the guests that are premium and experience premium experiences. We can all do it ahead of time and we can audit the staff as well to make sure that the staff is acting appropriately. All of a sudden you had a system where now the brands came to us and said, we need help here. Can you build this also, it's this. We got into park gate because they said reserving a parking spot is reserving a cabana. It's like a tennis court. So we started morphing in different concepts. We developed hotel shuttle service, airport shuttle service that went along with parking because were doing yoga classes that were every hour, seven o'clock, eight o'clock, nine o'clock.

Shawn Tarter: One of the properties came to us and said, if we switch the yoga image to a shuttle bus and we change the times from 7, 8, 9 o'clock in the morning, can you give us 10, 15, 12, 15, and two 15? All of a sudden, now you're reserving space in a shuttle service cause a Colby call. You have a certain amount of people at one shot. All of a sudden it's exactly the same thing as a yoga class, but now it's shuttle service to the airport. By doing it as simple as that and scaling the back end as such the staff had an easier time learning the product. Now the staff says, it's the same thing as this. You want to creating a portal for the staff that is extremely easy to use very little training at all, if needed. It's very basic. Especially when the staffing issues are as bad as they are right now in hotels, it would see coming back but the guests are really coming back.

Shawn Tarter: You have really explosion in terms of zero occupancy available. It's a hundred percent occupancy, zero availability. How do you get the staff and the guests on the same page? And it's really through technology.

Kevin Horek: Interesting. Walk me through, I'm going to a property. That's using your technology. Do I get a notification or an email saying, download the app or walk me through the journey as a guest. I want to do it with staff and a few of the other people.

Shawn Tarter: Yeah, of course. We're right at the guest point of booking. The guests will be looking at, hooked up the guests, booking their hotel rooms. The welcome email is going to have the information that we look forward to seeing you at the hotel. Now, do you want to book a cabana? Daddy went book an activity or an event is right at that point. We verify the guests immediately because our integrations with the hotel systems, the hotel property management systems are so advanced that we're verifying the guests exists and we can do room charges even before the guests step on property. We could do a room charge today. Even if he's thing in December also, you could pay for it ahead of time. We do a lot of different things. We have a product it's called amenities. If your friends are staying there and it's their anniversary and you want to send them chocolate strawberries and champagne, whatever it might be, you can look at the website, you can book it all ahead of time.

Shawn Tarter: You could use your credit card cause you don't want to have your friend try to have a room charge or their celebration. It's also very few people at the hotel that can really take this order these days. Maybe it's a food and beverage group where maybe it's the front desk and they have a hard time also processing credit cards. Cause if you think of a credit card over the phone, it's out of compliance and they get downgraded by visa, MasterCard, American express. We've created really the perfect product in here that kind of fits the food and beverage goes right to the point of sale as well. You could also buy things for yourself ahead of time. If you would go on a trip and you wanted bottles of water in the room waiting for you, or you had a celebration and you wanted rose petals on the bed, whatever that might be, you're providing the staff a chance to actually give you these items and provide for you.

Shawn Tarter: Also they're able to charge and get revenue for doing this. It's really kind of a really exciting time for guests and for staff because so easy to do it. The guests are seeing everything in one place, whether they're booking their spot treatment or an activity ahead of time, we did a lot of stuff for Valentine's day, booking a romantic dinners on the beach, things like that, really planning your trip. We've seen, because the lead time could be so great that we're seeing guests booking Christmas stuff. Now I knew he had, he was cabanas on the beach, that kind of stuff bonfires. You want to make sure that you have that space available to you as a guest. That whole fear of missing out takes a big opportunity here. I don't need to call the hotel anymore. I can reserve my entire trip before I get there.

Shawn Tarter: I get paid for it in advance. The hotel loves this obviously, but the guests do also because they're guaranteed a spot and they're not waiting for, I hope the staff took it down, right. They actually get the confirmation email, a QR code. There everything is really ready for them to enjoy their trip just as if it was a hotel room.

Kevin Horek: Yeah, no, it's interesting because I am the type of person that would book everything before and I would prefer to do it online. And I actually had a bad experience. One new year's. We were in San Francisco at this hotel and went and talked to like the person at the restaurant, like days before for like a reservation on new year's Eve. We show up and they're like, we don't have your name. Like, they didn't even put it down somewhere and like you're screwed. Right. Just getting that like, okay, I know what I'm doing. I know I'm going to, when I show up, I have the email to say that I got like, I think it gives a lot of people that peace of mind. Right. They know like, okay, they can plan their day a bit better. I don't know about you, but when I'm usually on holidays, I try to either like, have everything planned or just like a day where I'm just going to see what happens.

Kevin Horek: If I want a day to be planned, I want it to be planned. I don't want to plan it while I'm on vacation. I want it to be, like we've all been at the pamphlet thing. Like what day tours am I going to do or whatever. Right. To avoid that, I think it's really cool that you're offering that. I'm curious from a hotel perspective, what do the staff and kind of administration see? Do they have different screens and dashboards or walk us through that?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. For the staff side is really where the power is. You have yield management in here, you're able to yield everything on the site. You, you pretty much know how to charge per day a discount when you need to on the fly is count after the booking. The management's able to see who discounted what as well. That's important to see that your stamp is correct here. I said the biggest thing is that you're able to take your entire team as a hotel and divide it by who actually is supposed to be in charge of what you want your revenue team in charge of revenue. You don't want your recreation team in charge of revenue. A friend of mine loves to go to the pool area at 10 o'clock in the morning when they know that the items are already booked or not booked and start negotiating directly with the recreation team and say, I'll give you 50 bucks for a cabana instead of 500.

Shawn Tarter: The recreation team is super happy because they just made a sale. However, they probably should not have made that sale. You're able to do yield management from a revenue side. The finance team at the hotel or revenue guy can say, what? At a certain time, at 10 o'clock in the morning, we're going to lower the price by 50%, but we need to keep the price there for a certain reason. It could be their peers are doing the same thing. You want to make sure that you're kind of aligned with your, your peers. The recreation team was very good at the customer service side. They're very good at placing people and shares. That's kind of where you want that division there. You want to give you recreation team, some discretion overcharging, but not the full strategy of the property because the revenue team has to make sure that they're making their numbers every month and they gotta be careful.

Shawn Tarter: All situations, if it rains that they have, you drop the price, things like that, or I'll calculate it ahead of time. It relieves a lot of pressure for the recreation team. Also, when you look at the staff side, how do you want to bundle things together? How do you want to create an experience? If you only have five cabanas and you sell out, perhaps two of those cabanas should be cabana package that might include a spa treatment and maybe activities and things like that. Maybe an excursion as part of that. Though it's, I've been charged more, but there's a value to the guests because now they have a bundle and they feel like they got everything they needed. The hotels receiving revenue right away at time of booking. All these things can, could kind of play into it. It's a part of their process and their booking strategy for the staff side as well.

Shawn Tarter: We have a thing that we call lead time. With a lead time allows is that if the hotel wants to offer a special kind of package, let's say it's a birthday cake with a customized, the name and everything else is customized. The chef says, Hey, it takes me three days to create this birthday cake and this birthday experience at the cabana. If you give me three days, I can do it. Our website allows for the staff, for the guests to book for themselves three days out. If they try to book the same day, that particular item won't be available for them. We always go back to our experience on the operation side, we always make sure the operations team can handle it. If you could handle it on the operations team, the revenue will fly over the border right into your pocket, but you have to get the operations.

Shawn Tarter: Perfect, please. You say, I think a boat rentals, some of the marina teams at the hotel says, I can get a yacht. If you give me three days, notice four days notice. We want to give that opportunity for the guests. If the guest shows up the same day and the staff can provide that boat experience, it's just a bad overall experience for the guests. We're really able to say, what, if we can do this right? If we can get the operations team, the recreation team, the concierge team, the ability to control exactly what's happening. The staff, then the guests could offer whatever they want. They can order everything that they need. And they're having an amazing experience. A staff can provide the experience to the guests. And that's really the biggest part here. It's more than inventory management. It's understanding what the hotel can offer the guests, their staffing situation.

Shawn Tarter: All of a sudden what they would like their guests to see, and then the guests could offer everything.

Kevin Horek: Got it. How does it work if I'm a new hotel that signs up, do I pay like a monthly kind of fee? I buy different, like ad-ons or how do you, how does it say, okay, like obviously some hotels can offer, boat rental and others can't because they're inland. Like how do you decide and monetize the platform and how do I pick and choose what I want? I guess a followup question to that is, do you do any custom development for me if needed?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. I guess the first part of the customization is the answer's yes, we kind of jumped right in with two feet on the customization part. That's how we started. We started really understanding the guests. We had a request for one of our properties and in France said, we have five or six guests thrown up at one time. Can you play? We placed them in chairs at a time. They kind of, this was a few years ago. It's just an example of you have to continue to evolve with how the guests are acting to the staff to be successful in anything you do and with technology. We look at each situation of the customization opportunity and say, if we'd given this power to the staff, what more can they do if they're not doing it manually, we don't want to replace an Excel spreadsheet. We don't want to replace a piece of paper.

Shawn Tarter: We want to really be whatever the tool that staff member needs to be very successful. That is placing five people in five chairs at the same time we want to do that. That's really how the credit card came in. When we first started the staff members, writing credit card information down on a piece of paper, running it to the front desk, which was about a half a mile away. I would say what happened with that piece of paper what'd you do with it? She was like, I think they throw it in the garbage. I'm like, it's the credit card information of your desk. We thought a lot of stuff with PCI compliance, understanding the sensitivity of guest information in general, and really creating a very good and unique, experience for the guests and for the staff. When you mentioned about pricing, that's an interesting concept because we have properties that are seasonal that do not want to pay a flat fee because they're off nine months a year.

Shawn Tarter: We also be very careful on margins. We really expanded our offering to include food and beverage and some other areas where there's very low margin. You need to come up with an operation cost for properties. What's really cool about some of the revenue shares that we do on cabanas is that a really kind of taken on a life of its own. We're able to significantly increase the revenue on property, but it's significant. Then, properties love the idea of paying a revenue share as opposed to a fixed cost. It's really based on product, how the market receives it and the idea that you can actually do 10 X, what you did before or more. We see properties that just couldn't handle the volume. We have so many properties that change physical structures on property. There's a property that w is a little while ago where they actually realized because of the system that their gym, the workout place for this, for the guests was right by the pool.

Shawn Tarter: And they pretty much knocked it. Most of it down and created these suites that are by the pool because they realize they can actually sell them as these really luxurious cabanas, as opposed to having a workout area. They moved the gym to some other part of the hotel that didn't seem to matter from the view of staff, their standpoint. You really kind of look at really being partners with a hotel and really taking the risk on. And that's what really revenue share. I believe it's just taking the risk with the hotel, and making sure that the extremely profitable business.

Kevin Horek: Interesting. I guess you get to build the pro, like they let you build the product tailored to them. Therefore you can go to other hotel chains and sell this, but w what advice do you give to people that are trying to do, maybe not in the hotel space, but are building a product with their customer along the way? Like, are, do you have people physically go to a hotel or different hotels throughout the world a couple times a year and just like, sit there and watch this, Hey, we could optimize this or talk to their people, or like, what your thoughts around that and how do you actually grow this thing and move into different verticals?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. I, I, that's really an excellent question. We challenge ourselves all the time with that exact question, because the first thing is we do customize, we do create enhancements all the time, but we look at enhancements and customization almost as switches in the backend to switch and environment variable. If you will, where the staff can press yes or no, we're not building a full customization for each hotel. And that's really not a good idea. I don't believe at least for a company building technology, you want to build a scale, but more so for the security part of it, you want to make sure that your system is extremely stable. As were growing through this, we have third parties constantly that we hire to look at vulnerabilities in our industry, in our software overall industry as well. Let me show you that real estate will product.

Shawn Tarter: Our system is really built as if it's a cabana tennis game court space kids club. The backend is exactly the same. We're able to really look at data in the exact same format. Yeah, there are some different needs, right? Tennis, different needs than the kids club. We have different add ons to each of these as well. We have a waiver system that's connected into the activity, not separate. If you have a skiing event or a surfing event, and you want the guests to sign a waiver, it's connected to the activity right now, there are all different kinds of paper waivers and electronic systems, but they're not together. Coupled, it's very hard for the hotel to actually use a waiver system. That's not part of the activity. We built it and it's very successful at one of our most successful products. The idea of having the guests sign a waiver during the booking process of the activity, where even when they get to the activity, they could easily go on to the staff and go a lot of the guests and actually sign their name.

Shawn Tarter: That's also an add on to what the structure is, which is really inventory management. In order for us to scale this down a long time ago, we decided to make every activity, every reservation, exactly the same from a technology standpoint, very hard to do, to kind of compare Tennessee parking and cabanas, but we've done that very successfully. I say that you want to build product and build customizations where you have a really wide appeal to it. It's it's because we want to do it as why we do a customization cause a good idea for the company to be in that space. We always say no, and that's okay too to say now. What's cool about saying no is you really have a partnership with your customer. Your customer wants you to be successful because if they put all their eggs in your basket, you need to be profitable.

Shawn Tarter: You need to have a very successful company at a pathway. I've seen this so many times where companies have taken on too much. They have a very, they don't have a narrow focus. They're all over the place. If you're not financially secure, the brands can't rely on you. The whole business kind of falls down. Were like, yeah, we built this from the bottom up. We built this with security and stabilization and the idea that we can monetize it based on how we scale and the brand saw that the management companies and the ownership see that. We always hear from the ownership as well, who were always looking at how to increase their revenue, reduce expenses, that we need you to be profitable because we need you around for a long time. If you're fair with us and we could generate 10 X revenue because of you, this is a partnership it's not so much of, we're selling a product.

Shawn Tarter: We're really selling a partnership and we're kind of in this with them. We kind of feel like if we could save you this amount, you're going to want us all the time. If we're not aggressive, and if we're not being aggressive in our price, cutting, you're not going to want to talk to us. We're always kind of have our, our pretty much our hand on the pulse of where the market is. I would also say this to your, to your audience as well, is that you have to show compassion during COVID. We knew hotels couldn't pay us. These are very large hotels that are very successful. You have one person that thought without, and they didn't know if the government was shutting them down different countries, different states at different rules. If you show compassion because they coming back and I, and that's what I would say.

Shawn Tarter: I mean, hotels would say to us, there's no lift, there's no air flights. I would always say back, what are you going to do when the planes are flying again? Here we go to the planes of flying again. Every hotel understands that what we did for them was because were in this with that, what's the point of charging someone that actually can't pay it. If you kind of are easier when it comes to Amos, and if you say, what, we're not going to charge you right now. You should see what happens with all of a sudden, the industry comes back and now they would glad to pay us. They also remember the fact that we didn't charge them when they couldn't pay. There's the big deal with compassion, understanding that you are kind of all in this together. What happens when you come out of this?

Shawn Tarter: You're all really having a good time together.

Kevin Horek: There's actually a couple of really good pieces of advice there. I think the first one you said was, well, obviously like when you don't, when you show that compassion to somebody, you basically built a lifelong partnership, right? Like they're not going to vendor shop. Like it's because of you built that relationship and that trust, right? The second thing that you mentioned there a few minutes ago was having one code base and not building this hotel has their own running version. This hotel has their own running version. Every time you push updates, you need to push updates to two different, completely separate code bases. Right. I think some times when people think about product, they think, okay, well, every time I get a customer, I need to build a whole new version and then patch every version. It's like, you want one code base and you can turn on and off the features that are specific to that client or in your case hotel.

Kevin Horek: And, and then just keep it going. When you're rolling out new features, everybody gets that feature, not just that one specific client. I think that those two things are very good advice.

Shawn Tarter: Yeah, it really was. A lot of this is during, COVID just being human, but it's always been kind of in our DNA to make sure that our customers really enjoy the experience with us.

Kevin Horek: Yep. I'm curious then you have, obviously you have a bunch of customers using this. How are you guys, or walk us through the sales process a bit? Like, are you a lot of referral-based stuff? Like, because you got to probably have some long sales cycles or how does that kind of work or what advice do you give around that?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah, I would say that, you want to look at industries or groups together. We spent a lot of time in the very beginning of knocking on doors. One by one referrals are the biggest thing we have. We still have referrals and probably our biggest leader today. This industry and hospitality staff tends to move around a lot. We're very good to our hotel counterparts. We have friendships, we answered the phone, which is a kind of unique opportunity for the technology companies. That if you just answer the phone, when your customers call you tend to get a lot of referral business because you're unique people don't like to return phone calls. We really built a great rapport with our counterparts, especially when it comes to technology. It might be staff members has, 20 people in front of them. You have to realize how stressful their day is to how you respond to them.

Shawn Tarter: If you need to respond quickly or things can wait. That was a big thing as well, understanding your customer and their needs at that moment. I think that referrals was a very big part of it. What happened as well with referrals is that in hospitality, you have properties individually, you have management companies who actually look over the property to make sure the operations is running. You have ownership teams who care about the revenue side of things, and you have brands, okay. And the brands have sub brands. You have global opportunities as well. You have different groups and if you hit it right, you have the brand really excited about you. The ownership is super excited because they're all of a sudden making a lot of revenue. The management companies find that easier because of you. It's one person to speak to as opposed to 16 different vendors.

Shawn Tarter: Because we have everything across the board from tennis to, any kind of activity to yoga and kid's club and cabana reservations and parking and meeting rooms, you kind of have a one-stop shop. It's easier for us to be copied, a thousand times by a management company then for each hotel to negotiate separately. We have all the MSA, the master service agreements for the, across the brands. We have them now across management companies, because they don't want to renegotiate independent hotels are coming around. Like we've never seen before hotels say, I don't want to be part of a brand anymore. I want to go on my own, but they sell the management company. I sell the same ownership. You have, if you do this the right way, you're building something that just makes sense for the industry. We have a food and beverage platform that's fully integrated and it's easy for the owners to kind of take advantage of that.

Shawn Tarter: If the owner says, I have 500 hotels, we need food and beverage ordering at your cabana at your party room at your meeting and place a, we need a QR code to do it. Can you connect it for us? We have the solution. Why would they look anywhere else? They might say to us, here's 700 hotels that need food and beverage. Here's 500, that need amenities. You kind of look to scale the sales as well. If your product is strong enough to be able to be scaled, you really don't want your salespeople going. One by one. Our sales team does a lot of traveling at our operations teams. A lot of traveling. I love what our support folks and onboarding folks go on property. You tend to realize where the properties are mostly in bunches. You probably could go to a bunch of properties in a few days or a salesperson right now is traveling our operation.

Shawn Tarter: Person's traveling right with a salesperson, which is happening this week. You have different kinds of combinations that make sense. You might have our chief technology officer traveling around with a support person or for myself. You really want to understand what's happening at your customer. We did a trip a far away trip a few months ago. It was super far, and it was kind of cool to bring a team in a far away place because things might be different there. The GM has different challenges. The staff looks at things differently. You have different labor relations, challenges, and opportunities at the same time. You really want to make sure that you're in person as much as you can, even during COVID. You want to really get a grasp of what you're doing. The sales piece. I look at this and I spoke to our sales folks, your relationship managers, if you do it right, you're selling to a group.

Shawn Tarter: And then it's all referral business. It's all incoming if we do it right, because it's all referrals. It does it, right? You want to stamp it out. You don't need to have, if you're priced, right, you shouldn't really be in competition with others because it doesn't pay to move. Think about like your own cable system and your half hour, what's using it. Break the cord kind of thing. Your internet, how many times are you going to switch your internet provider? Even if you save $5, you really get to switch. If it works great, if it doesn't work great, you switching right away. I think that as long as you price yourself correctly, be a really good partner. People tend to stay with you for a very long time because they also want what's next. And it's always what's. Next is what people get really excited about.

Shawn Tarter: Cause you're always hearing what's going on. You always want to make their job easier. It's very hard to get one product from a technology company. If you, if they have 16 products, how do you kind of pick and choose the system? You want the system to all be the same. You want the same brand behind it. You want the integrations internally to work well. You want to make sure the reporting is the same. You don't want two different kinds of reports going out to your staff. That's just very hard to use it. That's kind of, my thoughts on the sales process, my thoughts on how you work with hotels and in our pro in our industry and how the referral business and the master service agreements kind of worked hand in hand.

Kevin Horek: No, I understand. I agree with you. I think it's actually really good advice. The one thing too, that I think a lot of people don't think about, and you mentioned it is the relationship with the staff and yes, turnover is high. Like I was thinking like even fast food, like if you were building something for fast food industry, see if there's another industry or retail, there's a lot of, but if they use the system that they really like, and they go somewhere else and say like, what, we use this other thing back at this past job, we should really look at, like, I think people forget about some of the, kind of usually non-management related staff can actually be sometimes your biggest champions and to carry you to other companies, which was actually really interesting. I think a lot of people don't think of that.

Kevin Horek: I'm curious what other types of services can you a hotel offer? Because when I was looking at your site, you have something called the real-time work pass, which totally makes sense to me. What do you want, talk about what that is and other services that hotels are kind of trying to do to maybe even bring in local people just to use their space for the day or a couple of days or something like that.

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. So, it's, it's really that it's that there is opportunities for different types of guests. We look at categories of guests now, which is getting more and more interesting. You have locals that want to use the properties facilities. We do a lot of stuff with locals using activities, you will be using the gym, you'll be locals using the leisure pass kind of stuff. You have, then you have guests that want to use the property for working at the property. We've done a huge thing with Maryanne actually called work from anywhere is a global initiative. Hundreds of properties are on there. We're completely white labeled. People don't always know that we're part of these things, but it's really reserving the hotel room for hours for parts of days. There's challenges there as well, because all of a sudden you're pulling out hotel inventory for possibly three days to get one day of the guests coming and going in the middle.

Shawn Tarter: That the guests from the day before can't go there, that, that they, after can't go there either, she really want to make sure that like super low occupancy. I remember we first built this product with some of the folks on the property. One of the folks in the team was like, well, what are we going to do? We have a hundred percent occupant occupancy. They're like, well, right now we have six, so we're okay right now it was COVID everyone thought the world was just going to end. And that was it. So you always want to be careful. It was going to make sure you manage the overnight guests. First, we have a lot of things that we do for events. We did huge Thanksgiving dinners this past November, same thing with Valentine's day and Christmas, where you really want to have outside guests participate in the event, the activity that's been a big thing.

Shawn Tarter: Parking's also been a big thing where it's for overnight guests, as well as for day guests. The day guests possibly might pay more depending on how you want to structure the payment side of it. We have a whole new area of guests that for us is just very exciting it's memberships. The membership part, I think, has really taken over. You have residents, clubs and condos that are next to the property. These would be a hotel condos really high-end could be also as well as middle of the road, but you have a different group of folks that you don't want possibly using your pool, but you might want them using your activities or using part of something. We're using one pool, but at three pools. You just have different kinds of guests coming in with memberships beach clubs. It could be a monthly membership. We have the spa treatment plus a gym, a fitness center, kind of a membership tennis memberships.

Shawn Tarter: We're seeing a lot of tennis and golf, all of a sudden memberships add hotels. What does that guest get access to be very careful. The overnight guest, again, this was during COVID where the overnight guest wasn't there, but now you have the overnight guests full occupancy. I mean, we've seen a hundred percent occupancy, not one room bare hotel room nights. The price for a hotel room night has gotten so outrageous and they're still getting a hundred percent occupancy. This, this week coming up is going to be insane. Everyone's traveling this week. What happens is that you really do not want your membership groups, your leisure guests that are locals. You don't want cruise ship guests. You don't want anyone near your property right now because your guests only have a certain amount of pool chairs. They only have a certain amount of guests and everyone wants to be in the front row.

Shawn Tarter: You don't want to mess with the natural issues that look, you had this before. You had people, trying to reserve pool chairs at two o'clock in the morning before COVID happened. Now you have a lot of guests want to really enjoy the property, less staff. The last thing you want to do right now is confuse the property during this week with a leisure pass. When things are not holiday weeks, you might want to say, Hey, does it make sense on a Tuesday to have a leisure guests come in? Why not? Why should I have 50% occupancy? We also see that. And, and this is just been decimated this past few years because of COVID. The group sale business has not come back in Florida. It's booming, right? We have several conventions happening in Orlando. I think we'll be in Orlando three times in between may and June, just on conventions.

Shawn Tarter: We, were at a convention right now in Dallas. We're seeing some states open up the group business, which is great. A lot of not. Seeing when you have group business, the pools are empty. It's a perfect opportunity to rent that out or to provide access to day guests or condo guests, things like that. So it's a delicate balance. I'd say that you want to make sure it's a hotel you're that you're working with a system that has everything together, that you could easily inventory from your overnight guests, your day guests and back and forth as needed. You want to make sure you're working with the right folks. You don't want to oversell something. You don't want to confuse the staff. You don't want to confuse the guests. Either. One thing I would say though, is because we work with the hotels so closely. It's a real partnership that when the guest provides a credit card, it's the hotels, merchant ID that's receiving it.

Shawn Tarter: It lays it against what the hotel. I think the card statement has the hotel's name. It's not our name. That's a big difference because a lot of vendors are taking credit cards themselves. If the guest is upset, they want going back to the vendor, not to the hotel and especially on the luxury end, you really want to control the entire guest experience. If the guest wants to move golf from Monday to Tuesday, you don't want them speaking to the vendor and you want to speak it to the hotel concierge team. The hotel team that really cares about the doesn't actually cancel the guest, stays with the hotel ecosystem. She's really big about partnership, understanding the guest experience and really being white labeled to the point that the guest does not know you exist as a technology vendor.

Kevin Horek: No, I actually think that's really good advice, but we're kind of coming to the end of the show. How about we close with mentioning where people can get more information about yourself real-time reservation and any other links you want to mention?

Shawn Tarter: Yeah. From a sales perspective, hoteliers could always reach us@salesatrealtimeres.com. So real-time rests.com. Real-time reservation.com is our website and have a lot of good places for the hoteliers to play around a lot of demo environments there as well. We're with all the large brands, all the management companies we have MSA is everywhere. It's a lot about just unsetting what you want as a hotelier to offer and how we can help you out.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. Well, Sean, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to be on the show. I look forward to keeping in touch with you and have a good rest of your day.

Shawn Tarter: Thanks for having me.

Kevin Horek: Thank you.

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Ep. 520 w/ Shawn Tarter President RealTime Reservation
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