Exclusive: Gekko eyes expansion with city guides

Gekko.com New York guideHotels recommendation site Gekko.com has started rolling out dedicated city pages for the 50 top destinations it features as it expands the number of booking partners it works with.

Gekko uses its own unique algorithm developed from the results of a survey of 7,500 consumers to match hotels, allowing users to find hotels similar to ones they already like.

In December it launched a new system allowing registered users to save their own address book of favourite properties and to share it with fellow users.

Expedia has joined booking.com as commercial partners to which leads are fed and eventually the site will have around 30 booking partners.

Michel Cassius, chief executive, said as the internet becomes busier and more complicated to navigate relevancy will grow in importance for search results.

“The basic principal we work towards is ‘stop searching, start finding’. It’s really important that consumers find what they are looking for,” he said.

“What we offer is a reduced choice that we think is more relevant to the consumer. At the end of the day it’s about relevance.”

Gekko was established by Dutch entrepreneur Dino Van Es who wanted something to help him find the right place to stay.

Privately backed including by Dutch investor Velocity Capital, it currently employs just 12 people in its office in Oxford Circus, London.

Cassius said the firm was very much still in a start-up phase and has spent the first months testing the robustness of the algorithm which underpins it.

It is based on a small number of fundamental criteria hotel customers look for according to the results of the survey it did.

Hotels are not matched on their published attributes like star rating but on Gekko’s own mathematical formula based on these criteria.

Cassius said the firm has already identified differences in the criteria different nationalities look for and this will be used to tweak the algorithm when it expands into Europe.

He said even though Gekko is a start-up, due to its consumer research, it already has intimate knowledge of how consumers behave and what they look for in a hotel.

“There is a big difference between thinking this is going to work and thousands of people telling you what works. This is the difference between popularity and personality.

“It’s about location and it’s about your personality. How do you find the right place for you?”

Gekko offers an alternative to the usual travel search which more usually starts with customers looking for the cheapest flight possible.

Cassius said it was operating with a more lucrative product area than airline seats and that the choice of hotel was a much more emotional part of the process of buying travel.

“With hotels the value is more than the price you pay. There is so much volume in this business,”

“Given the size of the industry, and the way it is growing, there is money to be made.”

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