HotelTravel.com - A Phuket Success Story
NOTE - this blog post is from 2008 and the HotelTravel.com company no longer exists.
A few months ago, I had an email from HotelTravel.com asking about advertising or setting up partner links with this here Phuket blog. Which was nice. HotelTravel.com is a big banana on the internet, and I had been wondering if they had any affiliate program, as it's a top quality website and always seems to pop up in Google searches... they must be doing well, I thought.
The HotelTravel.com website is very easy to use, rates are low and there are live agents waiting to chat - and I mean there really ARE live agents.. I always thought that was a bit of a con, the live agent button, normally redirecting you to a call center in Bangalore or something, but I have seen the HotelTravel live agents! Rather than do everything by email, I printed out the partner agreement and visited their office which is right here in Phuket. Only when I saw the offices did I realise what a big company it is. This was impressive! It looked very modern and efficient, I was quite taken aback, as things in Thailand don't always look so sleek!
So I have busied myself adding some links to HotelTravel on my Recommended Phuket Hotel pages. You can also search for worldwide hotels using the HotelTravel.com search box at the top of this page. On the hotel pages on this blog you'll find several links to different hotel booking websites, making it easy to compare and find the best deals. Online is the way to book these days.
Now, what's this about a success story? Yes, HotelTravel.com is based in Phuket, and employs more than 200 people, but it's the story about how it started that makes us all wish we had our hands in a pie like this! There was an article in the Phuket Post newspaper recently about co founder Blair Speers and a genuine rags to riches story...
After a long holiday in Phuket, Mr Speers says "I arrived at the airport with 250 baht in my pocket. I bought a drink and then went to check in. There I realised that the airport tax was more than I had in my pocket. There was nothing for it. I had to beg or go back. I only just had enough to get a taxi back to the house!"
He started a school teaching English, but was cut short by the landlord suddenly tripling the rent on the building - and that's typical round here - the landlord sees you doing well and wants a slice of your fortune thank you.
He was then all but broke again, his girlfriend started doing laundry to make ends meet and his motorbike was repossessed. But you know, if you have faith, things turn around.. and he got a job with PlanetHoliday (now part of Agoda.com), but lost the job when he got sick. Bummer. Then, out of the blue an old friend (who had some money) got in touch, they chatted, and in March 2000, HotelTravel.com started with it's online Phuket Hotel Reservation service. The internet is a funny old thing. If you are just starting to get into it now, well, you might make a living. If you got in early enough, and worked hard, well done to you.
HotelTravel.com is now, as I say, a big cheese.
Poor me - I never had even a hotmail address until 1998! Spent all my time diving and backpacking, oh why didn't I start a hotel reservations website!?