Travelers far and wide know: Finding a truly user-friendly hotel reservation system is like a virtual game of hide-and-seek, minus the fun. Sometimes, this phenomenon is especially true for business travelers, who know that, while on the road, the last thing we want to deal with is an unpleasant lodging experience.
Enter HRS: The Hotel Reservation System that guarantees the lowest prices on hotel rooms, period. It’s a blessing for the traveling professional, and those who manage their schedules. No more price-hunting! HRS is here to help.
Suzanne Neufang, the Vice President of HRS Americas, recently shared some memories and thoughts on what makes HRS the valuable service provider it is today.
To Europeans, New York City is the center of the North America universe.
Q. What's your morning routine?
Suzanne Neufang, HRS: I check emails from Europe that came in overnight, and skim the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and online industry news. Then, I gulp down a latte before my subway ride to the office from the Upper West Side.
Q. What made you want to do this job?
SN: I’ve been a GM in the travel industry in the past, but left to join a Silicon Valley company way outside of travel. I missed the industry, and found an opportunity through the HRS CEO in Germany, who wanted to expand into the U.S. It was the perfect role, and timing for me.
Q: What led to launching a location in New York?
SN: HRS has 22 other global offices; it was time to go big in North America. To Europeans, New York City is the center of the North America universe. I moved here from Dallas for the role.
Q: What has that setup phase been like?
SN: Basically, I’m hiring through my network: Setting up the U.S. entity, while also doing national sales efforts in heavy growth mode.
Q: How did you find your first client here?
SN: Through the industry network and trade shows, and word-of-mouth.
Q: As a small/medium business, what has been your biggest challenge, where you wished you had some advice or help?
SN: Insurance, payroll, HR issues, and international banking. Since we had no credit rating, getting a corporate credit card was also a challenge.
Q: What made you decide to choose a shared work space?
SN: I knew it would take a few months to find a permanent office, to get a lease negotiated and construction complete.
Q: Has this environment benefitted your business at all? Helped you win new clients or strategic partners?
SN: Having an office environment that includes services like printing, mail, and shipping has made other challenges easier to manage.
Q: What is it that you're doing better than you did before?
SN: Initially, I was working out of my apartment, and as my staff grew, that would have been awkward. We needed, at the very least, an occasional collaboration space. My first hires weren’t based in New York, but we did meet in person from time to time.
Q: What has been your most exciting client or project?
SN: Every Fortune 500 travel manager we speak to. We know most of them.
Q: What's the reward you grant yourselves after a hard day?
SN: A glass of wine, and 30 minutes of Netflix!
...hospitality, it sometimes seen, is a lost art. Thanks to today’s entrepreneurs, it’s making a comeback.
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