The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 year ago

How to Offer Rewards People Actually Want w/ Iqbal Jumabhoy

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

COVID-19 may not be the end of the world… 

 

But after, the road warriors will still have reason to celebrate. 

 

That’s because travel and hospitality are changing for the better. 

 

To find out how, I caught up with Iqbal Jumabhoy, Founder/CEO at BlackBook Technologies, a company creating rewards programs that are actually rewarding. 

 

What we talked about:

  • What people really want from hospitality.
  • The problem with rewards programs. 
  • Hospitality under COVID-19 and beyond.

 

This post includes highlights of our podcast interview with Iqbal Jumabhoy, Founder/CEO at BlackBook Technologies.

 

For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

 

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

The Road Warrior particular you know,ben on the road for whatever a hundred days or whatever a year. The last thingthet person want the free nit, which was pat fo by the SOMOY anyway. Whatthey were, what they really want is a tery wher for the child, who hasn'tseen them for two weeks: You're listening to the BTB revenueexecutive experience, a podcast, dedicated ELA executives, train theirsales and worketing teams to optimize growth, whether you're looking fortechniques and strategies, or tools and resources. You come to the right place.Let's accelerate your growth in tree to one: Welcome Eveyuy one to the B to berevenue executive experience. I'm your host Chat Sanderson today we're talkingabout travel and hospitality, what it means to provide a great experience forcustomers and how is the current state of covid and the climate change thisbusiness to help us we are lucky to have with US AG Wall Juma by CEO andfounder of Blackbook Tink. Well, thank you so much for taking time and welcometo the show Chad. Thank you for inviting me and looking forward totalking about my favorite. Subject: Excellence well before we jump in, wealways like to start with a question just to help the audience understandyou a little bit better Yo get to know you a little bit better. I'm curious toknow something you're, passionate about that. Our LISTENERSA might be surprisedto learn about you, okay, I gan arrested it. I told you the truth, AC, actually absolutely passonate about my ci aboutan Oun ground base. Sport I play Pono and that's my that's my absolutepassion. So it's but then you know it's a polo is one ofthose have Gon Wal Travel Sports. So you, if you have your staks, you have aPopolo Handicap, as famous man once said, it's a possibleto the world nice excellent. I believe you were the first passionate polarplayer we've had on the show, and I also, if I'm not mistaken, I believe Iwas told you represented Singapore in the South East sage of games. Is thattrue? Yes, I did. I think they made a mistake and put the wrong age on it, soI got in the team perfect, all right so for our listenersjust so, we have some context. Let's give a little bit more context aroundwhat is blackbook, and what do you do there? What customers are you lookingto serve? Okay, can I, if I mad backup, I just give you a fewtouch points. Tand it'll put it into perspective. Perfect. I don't know ifyou, if you know this, but survey was done recently jointy with Google, andit turns out that the average traveller makes over seven hundred touch pointsover a hundred and fifty days to plan a trip. Now the average traveller may notbe yourself or myself Chid, who knows where heor she is going and to end, andat the end of it they do something like...

...fifty two different searches. They gothrough five different airline brands, eigt accommodation brands and they gothrough. So basically what I'm trying to say to you that this is a a lentyprocess. Every time they do. This they've got tohandle with all these tuch points, whether it's flights, transportactivities, rooms, insurance attractions, whatever the there's awhole lot of effort that they have to go into with regard to handingcancellations, trip, changers et ca, there's no way to benefit from rewardspoints that are warded by each provider and they're, giving our credit carddetails to a whole lot of different people, just sowith. That is background number one.The second part of the background is the fact that I used to travel fromover two hundred days a year. I realized that using all the APPS thatwe all do, that there had to be a better way to dream, plan, bookexperience and share or trips, and that is what that is where the ideaof blackbook came out. I was A. I was TA s of a hotel compary, and Ihad a little booking button on a little button on my on my website saying: askTe Seeo so that our our guests did not need to go through any layers at hotellevel or anywhere else anything they wantedto know. They came straight to me and people don't always most of the time.They don't send you stuff that that they like most of the time they theysaid you so they shit. They tell you things that you don't like, and that is hugely valuable, becausewhen I left the last company and sold out, I said I want to now do somethingthat substantially changes the customer experience with regard to travel, Iwant a single stop where we can be the only travel app you will ever need now.That's it's a huge aspiration and with all aspirations you start withthe small steps you build those steps and then hopefully get closer andcloser to that ideal. So that's a broadly. What blackbookintends to do? We intend to serve a traveller that wileis mobile would tendto be the more taxt savvy as a person who uses technology affair amount andas an older person who uses technology a fair amount. I don't like to banditit to age groups. I prefer to bandit it to attitudes, and so, from my perspective, that's thecall. The core is: is that person who is looking? WHO USESTECHNOLOGY WHO USES APPS WO travels...

...with mobile and who feels that I wantto focus on my experience, not focus on cleading up the booking orthe technology, or anything like that. So that's. The inspiration forblackbook and in summary, ther for blackbook is a is a travel booking UPPthat takes you through the entire customer journey. As I said, it is seedless or use experienceesseemness between wetherd mobile, so the other part of it is that you findpeople who stop, who usually storp their trips at their desk and they're,looking for stuff, so they're using the computer so their own web, but whenthey're on the trip tho on their mobiles and data today is practicallyfree. So what you find so you need somethingthat whatever you do on your desk stop is that translated seges o to whatyou're doing on your mobile and so therefor? For us, it's a seemless. Youexpected wether mobile, it's a single point of contact for all customersupport issues and it maximizes convenience and allows the traveler tofocus on what they a what they really want, which is to enjoy their trip it'it's a very large aspiration. So asa traveler myself- and we we're talking about this before we get recored right.If I look at my phone- and I just picked it up just a check- I have youknow I 've N Iphone and I've got my travel apps all group together and Ihave seventeen APPs that are in there, and I know that each of the, like manyof the companies like united or single playerlines they've invested in makingtheir component of that experience, R or trying to I'll say trying trying tomake thei commonent of that experience as frictionless as possible. There's alot of data aggregation and connections and whole bunch of stuff. You have todo to come up with a seamless experience. How have you found thejourney of getting to the point where you're getting ready to you knowlaunchhaire in October? How has that journey been from a development? Anexperience standpoint: How do you keep that customer experience front andCenter and all of the aspects of ofe the business? I think thethere are a few different things. First of all how you how you follow that developmentjourney. In my case it was a screwup. I started thinking, okay, I know I know that I know the Pastom. Ithink so I could do this and I could do this.I can outsource the development et c Etca and I realized that that didn'twork in the end. I said we need to bring itin house and from quite frankly, we have a verycompatible team, particularly the Courtein, but there'sconstantly attention between them and tattention is between technology...

...and what's possible and when it'spossible with, if you like, tha the person, handlyng user experience andsupport, who has who wants things THAF MA technologymayor may not be able to provide in the way that they want it. And the third is: Is Marketing Marketing A D, Notoverpromising and telling the truth. So the great thing is assembling a teamof people who are very very good at what they do. Who can understand and accept thattension and learn to work together without without trying to kill eachother and the and the fact that the worker that we work primarily remotelywe zomed before zoom? And you know that really is, I think, M,very fortunate in having that in the team. So what we you've done is we'vealso had to Vivit the platform on a serious note, a few times where thename Blackbook, if you don't bind thesetes explay it because it'sobviously a very naughty game. So it came out of my walped mind, but not so wolked, because it itstarted out as saying okay, we're not doing it. I never even thought about doinguniversal air. I said, let's find experiences, hotels, things that otherpeople don't find. So it's our secret tothe black book and we share that. Butultimately we realize that actually it wasn't a sustainable model and wevisited and we found that what people want his choice. They wern trust. Theywant to know that pricing is optimal. Pricing is never the best because ifyou keep looking, you find something but there's a trade off between howmuch time you want to put towards it besus how much, how much get you'regetting for the last fifty cents or whatever anvetel night. So the point is then it diboted andthen we realize that frankly, you have to change the customer experiencesubstantially. Otherwise you don't have a hope, particularly when you are asmall new player in an industry which is oligopalistic with with some verymajor, well hunded players. So I don't know if I've answered you aquestion there, but that's that was part of our journey yeah andit's and it's great to hear that Ong unfald and get that perspective. Whensomebody comes to you and says, okay, so I mean I can see how saving me timetimes the one asset that we can't get back. It should be the thing that ismost valuable to most people, so I'm one of those people who's willing topay to have less less clicks in the journey right. But I'm curious when yousay bring it all together. What what's the draw? What's going to separateblackbook from some of those other...

...things that are out there, w peoplewhere things people may confuse as very similar? Well, the first thing is this:I mean if Ily, if im describe some modules in the product, Blackbook isnot just an OTA, the Ot being the equivalent of many of the major appsout there, some of which I use. What would take me away from those? It isreally the fact that if we look at blackbook travels or Ota bigdifferenciator, we have the largest number of hotels in the world of anyplatform. We have certainly between twenty five and fortypercent. More than the nearest I'm not going to mention names, OTmajor player, sir, and one of the best known players wehave more than double. How do we do that? Actually, when I put together thisnumber of hotels, I thought I was really clever. I said you know: exise Ted only has hehunded thousand hotels. How come Black Book and Todays frack that number bythe wayis over two and a half million hotels, and I realized I was actually prettydumb it. Anybody could do that. But the genius is my my colleague onthe technology side who found out that, would you buy from multiple, so we dothat by I gree by buying hotel night from aggregators and wholesalers to dothat. You have multiple duplications of hotels, Tuplications of rooms. So whatwe are osed to, what Awat we had to do was to put together a technology tosift up those Tuplications to ensure that any hotel appears only once onlyany room, because each supplie will give you a room with a differentdescription. So we have an algorithm that sift that out, if that out, andthen that appears only once and then after that, unlike the other Otos who are pricetakers in that the hotels at the prices and today that they don' take out theirmargins, we are price makers and that we buy a wholesale and then build up apricing to get to that pricing. Even though we haven't launched, we do tenmillion price searches a day. You know n based on our technology and then, ifyou have and then that technology has to be seemless and available, so we'veworked with with Amazon web services to make sure that it sits on multipleservers around the world, so that it's always on always available I'll gon.There then, to add up a whole sueet of travel products, whether it is at themoment it hotels, we will add flights, we will add local transport, whether that's,whether that's local transfers, for something which we think will be afirst, which is global, Ridt Haling, so you do not have you do not have to putyour credit card is with eight or ten rideailing companies in the world. Youput it in with us where you booke your...

...hotel, so you know we exist and thenwherever you land in the world will connect you to the appropriate driverfrom the ridt Hali Company. That's relevant in that place, travelinsurance. We already have thirty two million attractions on our site andI'll get to that in ha minute, but eventually they'll be bookableattractions, winl experiences, so we're filling that out. Number two issomething called by Blackbook Tho. My black took is not the collection of secret names, whom Iwant to Sall that it's actually collect my black book cumprises, my trips, it's the trips. I've done so, I havehave them stored and the trips I'm Eti, I'm going to do where allows us to do to set upmultilocational trips where everything resides. That's your hotel booking anybooking you made through US resides it gous. You Click a button. It goes intoyour caledar. You Click another button that shared with anybody. You want toshare your travelling with or business associates so and eventually it willallow collaborative trip building. The third is our reward platform. Where youknow people the two parts, one is rewards bat platforms that don't workfor hotel groups. Apart from the fived seven major hotel groups in the world,everybody else struggles. They pay for these things, but people don't use them.They don't use them because you don't have enough content to buy, and I thinkpeople don't know this, but if you look it out to and a half billion hotels,perhaps less less than forty hsand belong to the major chains. I usually asked this as a trickquestion or what percentage of thelitals come from the five majorchange in the world, and people come up with thirty percent. Fifty percent,whatever and frankly it's units single digit, it's low, single digitpercentages, so all the rest of them. If they have loyalty programs, itdoesn't work for the hotel group. It doesn't work for the customer becauseyou can't o you collect these points, what you can't use- and if you look atsome of the other Otie competitors who also have rewards programs. Well, theysay you can't do. If you collect en nights, you get fune free dice, guesswhat only three percent three to five percent of the world actually stays ina hotel more than ten nights a year. So plus people like us, Chad, thethe minority yeah. That's that's ahard staff for me to swell I mean I guess, because I spent most used tospend most of my nights in hotels. Less than ten nights. Really I mean yeah andI had no idea I mean and as much as I travel I would I kind of feel stupidfor not knowing it. I had no idea that there were the major chains ownedsingle digit percentages of everything that was out there. I just didn't evencross my mind. So you're really providing not only a centralizedplatform and a seamless customer...

...experience, but you're introducing themto opportunities and adventures and potential places to stay that they maynever have found, no matter how long they spent searching online is thatkind of a fair assessment? I think that's very fair because it isdifficult. We final Ley just podish the one point on our rewards program. Sowhat what we realize- and I realized this from running- a hotel group withsixty hortels, which is considered a very small groove or a midsize group-actually not a small group that people didn't you know never really liked ourprogram. So I said okay, how we going to give them I of content. Okay, we'vegot enough on the site that they could use the point. How do we make it worth?How do we make it work for them? Allow them to use the point IMMEDIAP. Theydon't have to wait for ten nights to use those points. The moment they madeone payment, they receive the points they can spend those points on anythingon our side and that's o that's great, because you got lots of hotels, butguess what I don't spend that many nights. So we said, put your points ina place, cick a button and we'll put it in cash in your credit car. So you don't keep your points if youdon't want to, and you have it, I cash in your credit ard, because you findthat the road warrior particular you know, ben on the road for whatever ahundred days or whatever a year. The last thing the person want the free nit,which was Patfol by the Sumoy anyway. What they were, what they really wantis a tery there for the for he for the child, who hasn't seen them for twoweeks for flowers for the anniversary they missed that's what they want or orat the end of a hard day. They want to buy themselves a drink, more valuable than telling them. Ohstay another nine nights and I'm going to give you I'm going to give youpoints the way you can buy another night again yeah that alone. That alone is Ingenius,because you are one hundred percent right. I the last thing I have morepoints on more different places that just sit there and stare at me and I'mticking to myself. You know I just spent a hundred and thirty five nightson the road. Why? No? I want to be at home, but I really do like the idea ofthe drink, like that. I could, if I could cashin my points for the drinks,I'm down with that. Okay You'R, my man that', where we cme out and thestlastpint, is then, if you're dealing with people like me, it's one thing but yof er dealing withmuch of the world today, the travelling world. They want those experiences andthen they want to share. So the last point is a platform calledOu. By the way a Bodioaso called we've got blackfood travels. You've got myblackbook you've got B bonus, which is the bonus points and you've gotsomething called black book. Eggs blackbook ect again is not what youthink like bookx is his blackbook experiences.

Take those experiences share them withyour friends, and everybody says to be able. I can do that on other socialmedia platforms. The answer is yes, along with pictures of dogs cats, butthey cake political views whatever it is. You can hand that, but if youwantit ponly for travel per to peer, you need something else. The secondpart is therefore they say. Well, there is a you know a reveal platform againand we work with trip advisor, but that's not ther to beer. It's anonymous,you've, no idea who is giving you the review. The reviews may be good,but you don't you you don't know if you have the same tastes as that person,but on blackbook x our aspiration is, you could share people who are like youand Youany, whether you know them or not. You've been following them for awhile, and you see what they what they do. You like that, connect with themand the other side is then share itenery, so that you can, then you get a whole bunch of informationand it short cuts your process to planning. So that's in summary, witl what we areand it's a beautiful vision, and I look forward to engaging with it myself.There was just a story here in Denver Colorado about a young lady who wantedto go travel even during covid and all f. Her friends wouldn't do it and shestruggled to find just a random. Like minded person finally did and theyended up sharing it tineraries and crossing pads and Turkey, but it was, Iread the article they talked about, how much time they spent just trying toconnect and and share those details. I can't imagine how easy and how manygreat new experiences and relationships this alone would have, especially ifyou have people that are very passionate about travel. As many are,so I think the the beauty of the single source, I'm excited, to see, excited tosee it and use it myself. I'm curious, though, now you know I'm sure when youstarted this. We weren't nobody was expecting a pandemic, but I'm curioushow COVID's impacted plans launch plans business model, anything. How are? Howare you weathering? The current situation, we're dealing with the COOLMID COVID is devastating for somany reasons at so many levels. Apart from the human tragedy e directlypaused by the pandemic, there's a human tragegy caused by the fact thatcommerce cannot proceed and the several curbs on our lives. I think there's a lesson in this andthat it's basically saying to us don't take anything for granted. So what doesthat mean? It does mean, however, that human beings, by thisis this is this-is now my own perspective. Of course, human beings, by their nature, to enjoy travel, doneed to travel duty to get away...

...sercaindly for business purposes. We doneed to travel because Inas much as we can do what we are doing today remotelyyou need to see the wites of the eyes of people you work with, so you do need to you. Do need totravel an in fact, mckizi just put out a very good study with regard to whichindustries will open up. First, as we begin to Tan the pandemic and over whatperiod and certainy that is, that is going to to happen from our perspectivein o our little part of it. It's having the confidence that as anindustry and as a human desire travel will cut back. The second is from a businessperspective in a very perverse wer. There couldn't be a better time toleanch o travel out, because people will look at you,they're not going to booking APS now, they're looking for you things they onthe web all the time, so you don't see hat tru Youe not going to w got goingto booking a and yes, we have a booking component, but that is not all a blackbook, so you know believe it or not. In the last, in the last, just as we said,we're going to launch weve got something like a thousand people.preregistered we've got threethosand or so the followers on different socialmedio platforms already, so we start there. The second part isthat, in my view, travel is goid to take on with all of that. It's going totake on a slightly different damation people are going to care a lot moreabout hygiene and safety. People Are Airlines, hotels are going to CH, haveto change processes as regards cleading social distancing and, goingso far as to redesign lobbies redesign places so that they much safer staffwill have to go through different protocols, and I guess I do all of this.Having come from a a background where I was running hotel companies, so all ofthat will have to change, but travel will come back. I'm not going topredict timing. The vaccine, if, if an when it comes on, will be a big, a bigdraw, but we are seeing countries and placest at that. You can look at China, for example, having he where the crisis, if you like its biggest early inpact today, travelis back hotel. occupances have gone up into the s. We percentage points versusprobably below thirty percent to the rest of the world because, as they managed to met tomanage the pederic and Manish, the virus, people have restarted. So I think that that will happen fromthe perspective of blackbook. We need to continue to publicize, obviouslywhat we are doing, but the other side...

...of it is. We are working with certainagencies that are certifying hotels and certifying attractions and we're seeinghow to incorporate that in the site, either the filter or as an attribute.When you look at a hotel and say look, this is certified by Biroverita, sowhoever they are so we're. Looking at that, so that people know that they are,you know they can search and they can they can seek out those places that aresafer to be in the other side of it, of course, is the fact that we're not justselling flights. We believe that in larger country Singapole, of courseit's. This is a tough one to say, Bu ee, larger countries, a lot more travelwill be on the road, so it'll be a little less public transport. It may becollaborative public transport that is smaller manybuses, that kind of travelwithin a country places. You contrive to you've already seen that in Thailandthat, as they've opened up people from Bancok, I did a wether no with somebodyfrom you know from BANKCOCP, and butactually he was sitting on a beach and go some way. So you know it's it's already beginning to happen insuch countries where there are attractions. The other part of it is. Isee, therefore, the increasing domestic tourism and those countries that have anindustrial plan for tourism. I think well benefit from this. Provided peoplelike us, people like US provide the means to getto these places and second provide the information on the places and providethe the core attributes of safety, so that people are confident enough totravel. So that's how we are weare approaching it and we'r already workingwith agencies to make sure that we can. We can. We can tell people which of thewhich of the travel products we have are certified and I think, having thatone source of truth not only from an experiential standpoint but also from asafety standpoint. I agree with you one Rpcent, I think travelis going at leastfor me the minute I get to the point where I feel like I'm going throughproviders, whether that could be going to hotels or going to experiences orattractions where they are being safe. I'm going because I haven't been on aplane or out of the country in seven months. That's the longest in my career,I'm about to lose my mind, so there's GOINGNA be a lot of people that want toget away and that trust in a source that says hey we're looking out for youas part of this experience, I think Han be very huge and very well received byany of the travelers out there. So I'm excited to see that come to fruitionfor blackbook. Let's Change Direction here, a little bit and be, I want to besensitive, an respectfulof everybody's time. We ask all of our guests twostandard questions at the end of each intervew. The first is simply as a wellrespected in souht after CEO. That means your prospect for a lot of peopleout there who are trying to sell I'm sure people are trying to get yourattention all the time. I'm always...

...curious to know when somebody doesn'thave a trusted referral into you, somebody a a reference that they'rewalking in the door for you. How do they capture your attention and andearn the right to time on your calendar? Chad? I think that I think that's really. First of all, there needs to bea serious prospect. That's interesting, the stuff that I I click the deleteButnon is. I have I have looked at your profileand you need Xi Zaid. Well, sometimes I don't so so so so I find and and they'velooked at something completely different they'v Takeit, astandardybill that that they sent out so first of all, I think it has to berelevant and if it is relevant, then absolutely il look at it, becauseit's my duty to do that not only to myself to my company by people in caseof something there. I know that my colleagues are constantly inundated bystuff that I receive. So I think I think I think it would be great ifsomebody has just actually looked at what we do and we'll say. I think thisis something you can you can use. The second is if it is something that I can't choose for now that they'rerespectful of that, because I do reply and having having having said okay, wecan't use it. They respect that, because what that does is that allowsthem? They are then in the door, and they know that I will respond Prev inthe future when there is something that I need absolutely, and you know- and I thinkif more people would just do that, take a second say: Hey, I got your message.We can't use what what you're doing re dealing right now that I think, wouldsave a lot of people a lot of time and actually build a lot of credibility forhim. So the last question we ask call Id our acceleration insight. If therewas one thing, just one piece of advice, you could give sales marketing orconsultance professional services, people one piece of advice that, ifthey listend to you believe, would help them hit their targets or exceed them.What would it be and why I think it would be it's a Chinese probem know your enermy and know yourselfthousand battles, a thousand victories and most of the time we either deludeourselves about ourselves or have some stylized view about the about thetarget. So know what you know know what youcould actually do for somebody, because if you know what you could do for themas opposed to what you have to sell, then theyare listening to you and knowthat. So that's that that would be my my view on that. I love it. I love itHeg. Well, if a listener is interested in learning more about blackbook, wherewould you like us to send on website other places, but pease o please go toblackbook dot SG, which is our website,...

...as I said to when we, when we werechatting earlier, it's OPIG, but if you go to to Blackbook, which isblack one, no tim, Ispell plakbook one word blackbook dot, SG the moment thatlaunches it will be. It will connect you directly into this, gives you anoverview and there'll be much for information. The moment we ere launchedand there will be information connecting you directly to the bookingsite, buras a download site an now and it social media platforms Andiparticular, but we are on. We are on facebook, where on Instagram, where onLinkedin and the Blackbook blackfook travels pack O and please look at up,we love it. Well, I can't thank you enough for taking the time it's been anabsolute pleasure to have you on the show today. Try. Thank you so much forasking me all right, everybody that does it for this episode. You know thedrill check us out of btob revizeccom share with friends, family coworkers.Let your kids listen to it! It's better than screen time for Hem. Until nexttime we have valy selling associates, which you wall, nothing, but thegreatest success you've been listening to the BTBrevenue executive experience to ensure that you never miss an episodesubscribe to the show, an itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank youso much for listening until next time.

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