Jun 30, 2020 | News | Other | Jerusalem & Area

Are hotels open in your area? This Israeli website knows

As hotels start the slow process of reopening around the world, it’s not always clear which properties are once again available for travelers.

This is a problem for tourists tentatively looking to vacation and for travel industry professionals who need to know which locations they can recommend.

Tzafrir Blonder, CEO of UpStay, an Israeli startup that has developed software that allows hotel guests to bid for upgrades before arrival, was confused, too.

“I was searching for a source of information to understand what hotels are open in different geographies to focus our marketing and sales efforts,” he tells ISRAEL21c, “but I couldn’t really find any.”

So, in true Israeli startup fashion, he built his own.

The result is Hotel Reopen Map, a website that lists hotel properties with their current open or closed status and, for the latter, information on when a re-opening might take place.

The UpStay product is really just a data layer on top of Google Maps. If a hotel wants to be listed, it fills in a brief online form. The site is self-serve – hotels are only listed if they opt-in – and fully automated.

“It’s a democratic tool for the community,” Blonder says.

Hotel Reopen Map already has information from countries all over the world, particularly in Europe, the US, Australia and, of course, Israel.

There are now more than 600 hotels and bed-and-breakfasts listed on the map. In Israel, most of the listed hotels are in the Tel Aviv area, the Dead Sea, Eilat or near Tiberias. There is only one hotel listed in Jerusalem – the lonely Leonardo Plaza.

“The objective of this tool is to make it easier for hoteliers to return to their work after the coronavirus,” Blonder says simply.

While the map is useful for travelers and professionals, Blonder hopes it will also help build UpStay’s brand awareness. UpStay launched in 2019 and has 250 hotels using its software “and increasing their revenue thanks to it,” Blonder says.

UpStay’s Bid-for-Upgrade system prompts guests to make an offer online for a room upgrade prior to their arrival. It automatically upgrades winning bids to match the hotel’s unsold premium inventory.

The system integrates into a hotel’s existing booking and payment systems, so there’s no extra work for hotel front desk or reservations teams. UpStay charges a commission on the up-sell revenue generated from guests.

The eight-person company has clients in Israel and abroad, including several leading hotel chains.

Blonder assembled a team for UpStay that includes travel professionals – but he is not one of them. He worked formerly as a venture capitalist and before that for the Israeli government.

“Both jobs got me used to spending a large portion of my time away from home in hotels and airplanes,” he tells ISRAEL21c.“As much as I enjoy these days being with my family at home [because of coronavirus lockdowns], I wish for all of us to go back to traveling around the world, staying at great hotels and making new experiences again.”

Blonder adds that while “no doubt corona slowed us down for a while, now more than ever Hotel Reopen Map can have significance to hotel revenues.”

Hotel Reopen Map is free to use. Click here to see if your next hotel is on the map

Full Story (ISRAEL21c)