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Is BYHOURS the new Airbnb?

The start-up hospitality app that allows you pay for your hotel room by the hour could be a game changer

We launched a business with plenty of enthusiasm, and now we manage a trend with serious growth potential.

The digital era has irreversibly revolutionised the way we travel. While there are some familiar and globally known brands responsible for giving the customer more control than ever before, there is only one app that currently allows you to book your room to the hour: BYHOURS.

Six years ago, entrepreneur Christian Rodriguez asked hospitality expert Guillermo Gaspart, why 22 hours is the shortest stay you can book at a hotel. Together they began to answer that question. Soon after, they created and applied the concept of pay-per-use to the hospitality market, putting the customer more control than ever before.

Debonair talks to Guillermo Gaspart, founder and chairman of international hospitality app BYHOURS — the pay-per-stay app.

When did you start BYHOURS?

BYHOURS was founded six years ago, in 2012 in Barcelona.

Describe your business.

We are the first and only international online booking platform and APP that allows you to book microstays in more than 3,000 hotels for three, six or 12 hours throughout Europe, Latin America and the MENA region. We are an innovative start-up introducing the first pay-per-use system in the hotel sector, which allows customers to choose the hotel check-in and check-out time, and pay only for the hours they need.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The idea behind BYHOURS is to bring flexibility to a market with rigid and stipulated rules.

We launched a business with plenty of enthusiasm, and now we manage a trend with serious growth potential.

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How did you finance your business?

The business model of BYHOURS is commissionable. We charge a commission to the hotels from every transaction made on our platform. And we also charge a booking fee to our clients for each reservation. These two income streams cover most of the operating cost of the company, but as we are in the middle of a growth expansion, we still rely on investments from national and international funds with experience in the travel tech market. Among these we received support from angel investors from Abu Dhabi.

At which point did you have a clearer idea of how you would turn your passion into a business?

I think in our case it’s the other way round. We launched a business with plenty of enthusiasm, and now we manage a trend with serious growth potential.

How difficult was the transition from full time employment to start up?

When you are an employee under a full time contract you commit to 8h work a day, but when launching your own project, the commitment changes to full time for real and this is 24/7.

The security is also something that changes. In a full time employment in a corporation the risks are few, while in the start-up world, we have to make risky calls in a daily basis.

Guillermo Gaspart, joint founder and chairman of BYHOURS and Christian Rodriguez, joint founder.

What are your biggest challenges?

We don’t have direct competitors; we are the first company building up this business as a whole, and the ones defining the roadmap of the microstay business.

What are the advantages to being your own boss?

There are advantages but there are many responsibilities too. You get to travel internationally, you get to know many people and many new ideas when relating to other entrepreneurs. I don't know if rewards and duties are equal but that's the price to pay.

What would your advice be to future entrepreneurs?

First I would advise any young entrepreneur not to rush and jump headfirst into anything. It is important to launch some business concepts with previous management experience.

Secondly, I would advise that an innovative idea is a good starting point, but the main success relies on execution. The business will pivot constantly but it would be easy to overcome the difficulties when you have good partners and are ready to adapt to the changes promptly.

Who is one to watch on the start-up scene?

Everyone! For us it’s key to be informed and pay close attention to the new proposals in the travel sector but also to the market feedback. The current entrepreneurs ecosystem evolves at a very fast pace, there are many good ideas and many others that are not coming at the right time.

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