By Meghan Hall
As travel has been minimized for many over the past several months, those in the hospitality industry have been carefully watching their bottom lines. For Luca Zambello and David Phillips, co-founders of Jurny, the traditional hospitality model was already antiquated. And, even though the hospitality industry has been hard, the two have moved forward with the launch of Jurny, an app that can provide seamless check-ins for guests while helping those in the industry to fill vacant rooms.
Please tell The Registry a little bit about Jurny. What pain points within the hospitality industry does Jurny specifically seek to solve? Why?
Luca Zambello, Co-Founder and CEO, Jurny, Inc.: At Jurny, we’ve developed a proprietary software-based management solution and turnkey service that we designed to power a seamless experience for our guests and property owners. We convert vacant hotel rooms and multi-family apartment units into furnished and automated, branded suites, that we operate for a performance-based fee.
Each property that we partner with is carefully assessed using data-driven analytics to address redundancies and reduce overhead, and upgraded with smart home technology to enable a seamless process from check-in to check-out.
Our technology is engineered to address two of the biggest issues facing the hospitality industry, profitability and efficiency. From a business standpoint, profitability. Because of the comparatively high level of personal service offerings, boutique hotels are costlier to run and produce relatively low profit margins compared to industry-wide benchmarks, and we offer a solution to increase profits.
From the guest standpoint, efficiency. Hospitality is one of the latest adopters of technology. From booking areservation to standing in line to check in at the front desk, guests often have to spend time waiting and interacting with multiple people to finally get to their room. The whole experience is usually very scattered, inconsistent and inefficient. As a person who frequently travels, I loved the idea of being able to go from booking to check-in in seconds without having to wait or interact with anyone. And we believe the new generation of travelers is looking for the same.
What does it mean to offer travelers and guests a “tech-first” experience? How is this different from traditional models of hospitality?
LZ: We are the first company in the world who has truly automated and centralized the guest experience. For the first time, you can book a place, access your unit and have full control of your entire stay all on your phone within seconds. Through the Jurny App, guests can instantly book reservations, request cleaning on-demand, lock and unlock doors, control the room temperature, seamlessly connect to high speed internet, extend the stay and access a virtual 24/7 front desk all with one tap on your phone.
Why do you believe that travelers today prefer seamless check-ins without the need to contact hotel staff face-to-face? When did you begin to see this shift occur?
David Phillips, Co-Founder and President, Jurny, Inc.: Every major industry is being transformed by technology, and as mentioned before hospitality and real estate are some of the last industries to truly adopt change. Innovative companies are able to see what people want even before they know they want it.
The introduction of Uber, Postmates and similar on-demand services drove a huge societal shift. It put the individual in full control of their experience for the first time, and we are bringing this same principle to the hospitality industry.
As a company, we have analyzed tens of thousands of reviews and spoken to thousands of guests to understand what today’s travelers really want. And we have focused on building our service and company with those findings in mind.
Unfortunately, the traditional hotel model is antiquated and destined to be obsolete in the near future. In today’s world, most of the services hotels offer are already available on your phone. Room service, on-demand rideshare and concierges are at your fingertips with apps like Postmates, Uber and, even Yelp for your local restaurant recommendations and reservations. And anything else that was not already available on your phone, Jurny has built it, like a virtual front desk, on-demand cleaning, instant unit access and much more.
Can you talk a little bit about how the application works to connect travelers and landlords looking to rent units?
LZ: From a landlord perspective, our end-to-end offering includes interior design, sourcing and installation, marketing and photography, cleaning management, customer support and security for a performance-based fee. Once the unit is upgraded and branded, the units are uploaded onto our backend and become available for booking.
Guests can find our units directly through the Jurny app, where they can choose their dates, book and check-in seamlessly. Once a booking is complete, our guests will have access to everything they need for their stay within the app.
What is your favorite feature of Jurny? Why?
LZ: Keyless entry. After traveling to your destination, the last thing you want to do is wait in line to check in or search for a lockbox for a key, and we’ve found a way to completely eliminate that process (and keys) from the experience.
DP: On-Demand Cleaning Services. There is no stress about leaving the unit at a specific time for cleaning or just skipping cleaning services for a few extra hours of sleep. Guests can schedule cleaning services for a time that works best for them, and not have to worry about the hotel’s cleaning schedule in the back of their mind.
From your perspective, what is your outlook on the hospitality industry right now? Are you finding it challenging to launch at a time when short-term rentals and hospitality are generally struggling? Why or why not?
LZ: There is a lot of uncertainty across the industry from both providers and travelers, and social distancing measures are forcing the hospitality industry to adopt new solutions to accommodate guests during this unprecedented time. Our tech-first experience enables us to address this issue and reduce potential contact points. Our revenue is four times higher than industry averages during this pandemic as guests prefer a more secure, touchless experience without any human interaction versus the traditional hotel with minimal to no automation.
DP: Our company is structured to thrive during these times with our vertically integrated model that doesn’t require master leases. Many hotels have been hit hard and are having trouble keeping their doors open. Because of our focus and obsession on creating cutting edge technology and automations, we have been able to achieve higher revenue and profit for our owners, which has helped us keep a 100 percent retention rate and continue to drive profit, despite the significant impact of the pandemic.
What markets is Jurny currently operating in? Does Jurny plan to expand in the future? If so, where?
LZ: You can currently book Jurny units in Dallas, Miami and Nashville and we are rapidly growing into new markets with more inventory. We have a growing pipeline of more than 2,500 units with LOI’s in locations, including Louisville, San Diego, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, as well as Tel Aviv and Panama, to name a few. We plan to be everywhere.