Hotel booked? Chances are the price you pay was calculated with Flemish software. As many as ten percent of hotels worldwide calculate on Lighthouse, the former OTA Insight. The One Million Club of Scaleup Flanders headed to their headquarters in Ghent to listen to the unique entrepreneurial story of co-founder Matthias Geeroms.
When Matthias made plans with two friends to go to the London Olympics in 2012, they were amazed at the skyrocketing hotel room rates. Just before the Games, prices dropped again, as the increases had deterred potential customers. This led to a question that would determine the direction of their subsequent careers: how can hotels optimize their pricing?
Today, Lighthouse is a world-class player with more than 100 employees in Ghent. Surprisingly, none of Lighthouse's founders had experience in the hotel sector. "Two of us come from the public sector, I myself have a background in tax law. This fresh perspective ultimately proved to be our strength. With our cross-sector knowledge, we were able to develop an innovative product that is a step ahead of the competition in terms of data analysis, machine learning, product design and user interface," Matthias told members of our One Million Club. These are scaleups with a turnover or investment of at least one million euros that will one day grow into a player like Lighthouse.
Not only did the Olympics take place in London, but so did the founding of Lighthouse. "The fact that we are a British company with three Belgian founders has mainly to do with the situation in Belgium 10 years ago," says Matthias. "There was no startup culture here, no Tax Shelter, networking events or incubators... Now I would definitely start in Belgium, because the climate is completely different today."
After a flying start on British soil, the Lighthouse team quickly realized that their solution could make a global impact. Their sights were set first on Europe, then America. To really understand the nuances of the American market, Lighthouse even proactively sent some team members to the US.
"From data protection to consumer behavior, each market has its unique characteristics and challenges," Matthias explains. "By integrating our team members into these different cultures, we can refine our strategies and adapt our services to local needs. This can range from customized marketing strategies to regional pricing that takes into account seasonal tourism."
To sustain rapid growth, Lighthouse moved from a single product to a portfolio of multiple products. "Introducing new products to our existing customers was crucial to continue strong growth in a relatively short period of time," Matthias says. "We transformed from a one-trick pony to a multi-product offering."
Today, Lighthouse is in the process of rebranding that takes the entire business model in a different direction. "This rebranding is about more than a new name and logo," Matthias explains. "It is a clear transition to one integrated platform where we can build a unified identity, rather than multiple separate products."
Matthias' ambition is clear: to cross the 100 million euro sales threshold. His strategy to achieve this?
"By bringing all our services together in one accessible platform, we can leverage a smart bundle pricing strategy." says Matthias. "In addition, we continue to invest in our customer success team. Customer satisfaction is worth its weight in gold. When expanding our teams, we always keep the Rule of 40 in mind - a balance between growth and profitability."
Finally, Matthias is also looking beyond the hotel sector. "With our platform, a world of opportunities lies open in other sectors, such as car rentals, casinos and parking services. We plan to adapt our technology to reach an even wider audience."
Missed this networking event? No worries, because on April 24 Scaleup Flanders is organizing its annual Network Event. Register now!