Everyone talks about rooms being an underutilized asset in the hospitality industry. But what about meeting space?
Almost all four- to five-star hotels, even boutique ones, have at least one meeting room. These can be 10-person conference rooms or 1,000-person banquet halls, but the concept is the same — it’s an empty space that the hotel wants business people to rent.
But the process of doing so is inefficient — most hotels make you go through their events or catering department and fax forms back and forth until you agree on a price. So the result is that these rooms get used a lot less often than they should.
Bizly is a startup trying to change this, by making it just as easy to book event space as it is to book a hotel room on a one-tap platform like Hotel Tonight.
It’s pretty simple: Bizly will show you a list of hotels in your city with available event space along with an hourly price to rent out a room for a meeting — think a 20-person board room in the Ace Hotel for $75 an hour, or meeting space in the Mandarin Oriental for $150 an hour.
Hotels are happy because they are generating revenue from a room that otherwise sits empty, and meeting organizers get to host a meeting in a luxury setting like a five-star hotel.
And hotels still get to offer food and beverage to groups, which is traditionally where they generate revenue from meeting-room rentals. But by using Bizly to rent to small groups (instead of the traditional 200-person wedding or conference), hotels should end up increasing the utilization of their meeting space and maybe be able to reduce their dependence on food and beverage.
So who would use a service like this?
Bizly says that they’ve seen a ton of uses cases — venture capitalists needing a nice meeting space, startups that have overgrown their offices and need to hold an all-hands meeting and even corporate clients who need a reliable place to hold meetings when out of town.
Plus, the startup prides itself on its last-minute nature — they say that most bookings happen less than six days in advance. So it really could be meant for a startup that needs to hold a last-minute meeting and wants to impress their guests by having them come to the Mandarin — all for about $150.
Bizly launched an iOS app in February and web app in August, and has been tripling their bookings each month since. They have signed up more than 100 hotel brands in six cities, including pilots with Starwood and Hyatt properties.
The startup also recently closed a seed round led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.