When Nadja Buckenberger first opened Bliss Boutique Hotel, a small independent property in Breda, The Netherlands, she realized that the traditional method of running a smaller property—mostly with handwritten reservations and spreadsheets—was not ideal.
After being unable to find a property management system (PMS) that fit her needs—and was affordable—she decided to team up with tech entrepreneur Tymen van Dyl to create their own, and RoomRaccoon—which is now used by more than 1,500 hotels and recently expanded into North America—was born.
“I was surprised to see the way she operated her hotel on a day-to-day basis,” said van Dyl, who is the CEO/cofounder of the company. “It was a lot of Word and Excel and pen and paper. Not being from this industry, I was wondering if this was normal… I made a few calls to other similar smaller hotels and found that it was.”
That really surprised him. “The world I came from in other industries, I could not believe it,” he said. “That also fueled my personal excitement to solve this problem in this industry because the industry is huge.”
So, in 2016, he began building software that would solve Buckenberger’s three central pain points by combining a PMS with a channel manager and booking engine. “I stepped in to help her increase her productivity and set her up for success, but mainly to make her hands free to do what she’s good at and what she loves—enhancing her guests’ experience,” he said.
Van Dyl believes that his lack of knowledge of the industry helped them build a better system. “We had no predefined bias on how a PMS should look,” he said. “We looked at this from a really pragmatic perspective for how our system would look and power operations on a day-to-day basis.”
That thinking led to the addition of the channel manager and booking engine. “One of the first things that we did is integrate directly with all of the major booking channels,” he said. “We heard from people that this is not what a PMS should do, this is what a channel manager should do. But, why?…We didn’t care how it was, we only care how it should be.”
They started looking at other areas within hotel operations from a revenue-generating perspective. “We wanted to set up the hotel for more financial success—increase occupancy, decrease costs, increase RevPAR and the bottom line,” said van Dyl. “We started adding more of these features that we believe were very logical to include, rather than depending on other areas in the tech stack, such as basic revenue management, online check-in, upselling to guests, payments and housekeeping management.”
The system met Buckenberger’s needs and it did it so well that they decided to offer it to other hoteliers and it spread throughout Europe and Africa. “Our ideal hotel customer has been 10 and 100 rooms,” van Dyl said. “We are their tech stack…we believe that this target group of under 100 rooms has no need or maybe should not have an ambition to build that tech stack themselves. They don’t have a tech team or a group CIO.”
While van Dyl said that the company isn’t doing anything that other companies aren’t doing; it is doing it differently. “We create an accessibility for those smaller or medium-sized hotels because they simply were never able to build that tech stack,” he said.
Now, the company is bringing the system to North America. “This is a very important moment in the history of RoomRaccoon,” he said. “We have been exploring other markets to identify how relatively big that value-add could be and what we could bring to the market relative to their current state. We identified North America as a market that we have developed quite a big ambition for.”
“There are definitely super-cool initiatives that we see and that we respect, but nothing with our vision and nothing that is close to what the value-add that our product is delivering to that 10-to-100-room independent property,” said van Dyl.
The PMS is made to be compatible with more than 135 third-party integrations. “North America opens up the opportunity to partner with even more innovative, fast-paced and trend-setting companies,” said Nick Kleynhans, head of partnerships. RoomRaccoon. “RoomRaccoon looks forward to expanding with our existing partners including Event Temple, Lightspeed, Expedia and Ivvy.”