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5Q PropTech Interview – Dori Stein CEO at Fornova

June 15, 2020

1. Why did you start Fornova and what is the company’s mission?

Fornova was started in 2008 by a trio of entrepreneurs led by Michael Rubanovich, our founder.

They had been working together at Intel, leading the development of chip design tools and recognized an opportunity to “aggregate the web”.

From those early start-up days, Fornova has gone on to work with most of the global hotel majors, largest online travel agencies (OTAs), as well as some of the biggest brands such as Amazon, Nike, Samsung, and Macy’s.

More recently, we entered the car rental market to support its biggest names.

I joined in 2009 to lead business development and marketing activities and became CEO in 2015.

Simply put, our mission is to be the leading intelligence provider to the hospitality and travel industries.

Our next-generation intelligence products span distribution, business, and competitive intelligence solutions as well as e-commerce and car rental intelligence technology.

2. What are your predictions on the future of hotel business intelligence post-COVID-19?

We expect domestic travel to bounce back first as people choose to stay close to home and avoid public transport.

Initially, they are likely to opt to stay in vacation rentals to avoid meeting other people.

In line with this, we also predict that the car rental industry will recover early as people choose to drive.

In the mid-term, we will see travel expand in ‘corridors’ – connecting regions and countries where people have the greatest trust in how the pandemic has been managed.

It could mean that countries such as Italy, the UK, and the USA where the perception is that the risk is higher, are slower to welcome guests back.

In the race to get heads in beds, the competition will be fierce and we will see a resurgence in the dominance of OTAs and wholesalers as hotels do all they can to attract guests.

Having intelligent insights will give hotel revenue, sales, and marketing strategies the edge.

The biggest losers in the recovery are likely to be independent and smaller hotels with people feeling more confident in the larger brands.

Likewise, I anticipate we will see many smaller hotels merge with the large chains to protect their future and to secure funding.

It will be even more critical for hotels to keep their eye on the ball and take data-driven distribution decisions for short-term benefits over long-term ones.

3. How did you scale your product to service over 18,000 hotels worldwide?

We make sure we understand each market we work in so that we can solve their challenges and add value to their business.

Every brand we work with is time and cost-constrained so we develop enterprise-ready products that are fast and easy to roll-out and are focused on delivering real results.

We also recognize that it’s about combining the best technology with the best people.

So, we hire experienced, senior salespeople who are enterprise sales experts, we partner with the world’s largest hotel chains rather than selling to individual properties.

While we never take it for granted, we’ve found that whenever we enter a market, our technology and experience attract major brands who want to partner with us.

4.What technological roadblocks, perhaps related to outdated legacy-systems, have you faced while building Fornova?

It’s no secret that the hotel technology ecosystem is antiquated and brittle.

The industry is dominated by a lot of legacy on-premise or homegrown systems.

However, we are seeing a shift – particularly among the major chains as they recognize the transformational potential of intelligent data insights and management.

However, this hasn’t been our biggest hurdle.

The greatest challenge we’ve faced is accessing information from the thousands of websites that we scan and track.

We are frequently blocked from sites and it’s thanks to our great team and our technology that we’re still able to extract information from them.

5. How will data drive decision making in the post-COVID-19 era we all hope will come soon?

Intelligent data insights will be the main driver for gaining a competitive advantage in the new low pricing post-COVID-19 world. Greater competition and price sensitivity from guests will force the price down.

The only way to be competitive will be by constantly tracking competitor data.

Reliable and comprehensive data presents a tremendous opportunity for hotels to improve their decision-making around revenue and distribution management as well as sales, and marketing.

Fornova has the industry’s most comprehensive global data set – we track over 100,000 and OTA websites, including Booking Basic.

We continuously collect rates from 72 Points of Sale (POS) using 60m dynamic IPs and our patented scanning and data aggregation technology, which is language and currency agnostic.

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