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 at the pick.You know they don't the road for whatever, a hundred days or whatever a year. The last thing that person wants to the free nights which was paidpulled by the company anyway. What they want, what they really want,is a teddy there for the child who hasn't seen them for two weeks.You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives traintheir sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniquesand strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'saccelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BBrevenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking abouttraveling hospitality, what it means to provide a great experience for customers and howis the current state of covid and the climate change this business? To helpus, we are lucky to have with us big ball Jumobi, CEO andfounder of black book big while. Thank you so much for taking time andwelcome to the show, Chad. Thank you for inviting me and looking forwardto talking about my favorite subject excellence. Well, before we jump in,we always like to start with a question just to help the audience understand youa little bit better, get to know you a little bit better. I'mcurious to know something you're passionate about that our listeners may might be surprised tolearn about you. Okay, I get arrest of it. I told youthe truth, but it actually actually I absolutely passionate about my about and foundground based sport. I play Polo and that's my that's my absolute passion.So it's but then you know, it's a polo is one of those havegun, will travel sports. So if you have your stakes, you haveapolo handicap. As famous man one said, it's about coat to the world.Nice, excellent. I believe you are the first passionate Polo player we'vehad on the show and I also, if I'm not mistaken, I believeI was told you represented Singapore in the Southeast Asian Games. Is that true? Yes, I did. I think they made a mistake and put thewrong age on it, so I got in the team perfect. All right. So for our listeners, just so we have some contacts, let's givea little bit more context around what is black book and what do you dothere? What customers are you looking to serve? Okay, can I ifI made back cup. I just give you a few touch points and it'llput it into perspective perfect. I don't know if you if you know this, but survey was done recently joint you with Google, and it turns outthat the average traveler makes over seven hundred touch points over a hundred and fiftydays to planet trip. Now, the average traveler may not be yourself ormyself child, who knows way here. She is going end to end andat the end of it they do something...

...like fifty two different searches. Theygo through five different airline brands, eight accommodation brands and they go through.So, basically, what I'm trying to say to you is that this isa lengthy process. Every time they do this, they've got to handle withall these touch points, whether it's flights, transport, activities, rooms, insurance, attractions, whatever. There there's a whole lot of effort that theyhave to go into with regard to handing cancelations, trip changers, etc.There's no way to benefit from rewards points that are voted by each provider andthey're giving out credit card details to a whole lot of different people. Sowith that is background number one. The second part of the background is thefact that I used to travel some over two hundred days a year. Irealized that, using all the APPS, and we all do that, theyhad to be a better way to dream, plan, book experience and share ortrips, and that is what that is where the idea of black bookcame out. I was a I was a CEO of a hotel company andI had a little booking button on a little button on my on my websitesaying ask the CEO, so that our our guests did not need to gothrough any layers at hotel level or anywhere else. Anything they wanted to know, they came straight to me. And people don't always, most of thetime they don't send you stuff that that they like. Most of the timethey did. They send you so they shit, they tell you things thatyou don't like, and that is hugely valuable because when I left the lastcompany and sold out, I said I want to now do something that substantiallychanges the customer experience with regard to travel. I want a single stop where wecan be the only travel app you will ever need. Now that's it'sa huge aspiration and with all aspirations you start with the small steps, youbuild those steps and then hopefully you get closer and closer to that ideal.So that's broadly what black book intends to do. We intend to serve atraveler that, while is mobile, would tend to be the more tech savvy. As a person who uses technology a fair amount and as an older personwho uses technology a fair amount, I don't like to bandit it to agegroups. I prefer to bandit into attitudes, and so from my perspective, that'sthe core. The core is is that person who is looking, whouses technology, who uses APPS, who...

...travels with mobile and who feels thatI want to focus on my experience, not focus on cleaning up the bookingor the technology or anything like that. So that's the inspiration from black bookand in Summary, therefore, black book is a travel booking APP that takesyou through the entire customer journey. As I said, it is seamless,use experiences seamless between Web and mobile. So the other thought of it isthat you find people who start, who usually start their trips at their deskand they're looking for stuff. So they using the computer, so their ownweb, but when they're on the trip they're on their mobiles and data todayis practically free. So what you find, so you need something that whatever youdo on your desktop is then translated seamlessly to what you're doing on yourmobile. And so therefore, for us it's a seamless you ex between weatherand mobile. It's a signal point of contact for all customer support issues andit maximizes convenience and allows the traveler to focus on what they are what theyreally want, which is to enjoy that trip. It's a it's a verylarge aspiration. So as a traveler myself, and we were talking about this beforewe hit record right, if I look at my phone, and Ijust picked it up just to check, I have you know I'm I foundand I've got my travel apps or group together other and I have seventeen appsthat are in there. And I know that each of the many of thecompanies like united or singleplayer lines, they've invested in making their component of thatexperience, or trying, I'll say trying, trying to make their component of thatexperience as frictionless as possible. There's a lot of data aggregation and connectionsand whole bunch of stuff you have to do to come up with a seamlessexperience. How have you found the journey of getting to the point where you'regetting ready to, you know, launch here in October? How has thatjourney been from a development and experience standpoint? How do you keep that customer experiencefront and Center and all the aspects of of the business? I thinkthere are a few different things. First of all, how you how youfollow that Development Journey? In my case it was a screw up. Istarted thinking, okay, I know I know that, I know the customer. I think, so I can do this and I could do this,I can outsource the development, etc. Etc. And I realized that thatdidn't work. In the end I said we need to bring it in house. And from quite frankie, we have a very compatible team, particularly theQure team, but there's constantly attention between them and the tension is between technologyand what's possible and when it's possible with,...

...if you like, the person handlinguser experience and support, who has who wants things that may technology mayor may not be able to provide in the way that they wanted. Andthe third is is marketing, marketing and not over promising and telling the truth. So the great thing is assembling a team of people who are very,very good at what they do, who can understand and accept that tension andlearn to work together without without trying to kill each other, and the andthe fact that they work, that we work primarily remotely. We zoomed beforezoom and you know, that really is I think I'm a very fortunate inhaving that in the team. So what we've done is we've also had topivot the platform, on a serious note, a few times where the name blackbook, if you don't mind a just this, explained it, becauseit's obviously a very note name. So it came out of my warped mind, but not so walked, because it started out as saying, okay,we're not doing it. We I never even thought about doing universal lab Isaid, let's mind experiences, hotels, things that other people don't find.So it's a secret little black book and we share that. But ultimately werealize that actually it wasn't a sustainable model and we pivoted and we found thatwhat people want is choice. They won't trust. They want to know thatpricing is optimal. Pricing is never the best because if you keep looking youfind something, but there's a trade off between how much time you want toput towards it versus how much, how much gain you're getting to the lastfifty cents or whatever a hotel night. So the point is then it pivotedand then we realize that, frankly, you have to change the customer experiencesubstantially. Otherwise you don't have a hope, particularly when you are a small,new player in an industry which is all ego ballistic with some very major, well hundred players. So I don't know if I've answered your question there, but that's that was part of our journey. Yeah, and it's it'sgreat to hear that on gone on fault and get that perspective when somebody comesto you and says, okay, so, I mean I can see how savingme time times the one asset that we can't get back. It shouldbe the thing that is most valuable to most people. So I'm one ofthose people who's going to pay to have less, less cliques in the journey. Right, but I'm curious when you say bring it all together. Whatwhat's the raw what's going to separate black...

...book from some of those other thingsthat are out there? People were things people make confuse as very similar.Well, the first thing is this. I mean, if I may,if I may describe some modules in the product, black book is not justan Otia, the Ota being the equivalent of many of the major apps outthere, some of which I use. What would take me away from those? It is really the fact that if we look at Black Book, travelsare Oti a big differentiator. We have the largest number of hotels in theworld of any platform. We have certainly between twenty five and forty percent morethan the nearest I'm not going to mention names with major player, sure,and one of the best known players. We have more than double. Howdo we do that? Actually, when I put together this number of hotels, I thought I was really clever. I said, you know XY thatonly has eight hundred thousand hotels. How come Black Book and today, Frankthat number, by the ways, over two and a half million hotels?And I realized I was actually pretty dumb. Anybody can do that, but thegenius is my my colleague on the technology side who found out that whenyou buy from multiple so we do that by agree, by buying hotel nightsfrom aggregators and wholesalers. To do that, you have multiple duplications of hotel,those duplications of rooms. So what we are forced to, what wehad to do, was to put together a technology to sift out those duplicationsto ensure that any hotel appears only once, only any room, because each supplierwill give you a room with a different description. So we have analgorithm that sift that out, sits that out and that that appears only oneand then after that. Unlike the other OTAS, who are price takers inthat the hotel set the prices and they then they then take out their margins, we are price makers and that we buy at wholesale and then build upour pricing to get to that pricing. Even though we haven't launched, wedo ten million price searches a day, you know, based on our technology. And then if you have and then that technology has to be seamless andavailable. So we worked with with Amazon web services to make sure that itsits on multiple servers around the world so that it's always on, always available. Our goal there is then to add up a whole suite of travel products, whether it is at the moment it's hotels, we will add flights,we will add local transport, whether that whether that's local transfers or something whichwe think will be a first, which is global ride haling. So youdo not have you do not have to put your credit card in with eightor ten ridering companies in the world. You put it in with us whereyou booked your hotel so you know we...

...exist, and then wherever you landin the world, will connect you to the appropriate driver from the right healingcompany that's relevant in that place. Travel Insurance. We already have thirty twomillion attractions on our site and I'll get to that in a minute, buteventually they'll be bookable attractions and experiences. So it filling that out. Numbertwo is something called my black book. Now, my black book is notthe collection of secret names whom I want to call but it's actually a collectionby black book comprises my trips. It's the trips I've done, so Ihave have them stored, and the trips I'm a trip I'm going to do. That allows us to do to set up multilocational trips where everything resides.That's your hotel booking, any booking you made through US resides. It goes, you click about and it goes into your calendar. You Click another button. That shared with anybody you want to share your traveling with, or businessassociates. So and eventually it will allow collaborative trip building. The third isour rewards platform, where you know people. They two parts. One is rewardspath platforms. That don't work for hotel groups. Apart from the fiveseven major hotel groups in the world, everybody else struggles. They pay forthese things but people don't use them. They don't use them because you don'thave enough content to to buy. And I think people don't know this,but if you look at out two and a million hotels, perhaps less lessthan fortyzero belong to the major chains. I usually ask this as a trickquestion. Or what percentage of the hotels come from the five major changes inthe world, and people come up with thirty percent, fifty percent, whatever. I frankly it's unit's single digit. It's low single digit percentages. Soall the rest of them, if they had loyalty programs. It doesn't workfor the hotel group. It doesn't work for the customer because you can't.You collect these points which you can't use. And if you look at some ofthe other Otia competitors who also have rewards programs, well, they sayyou can't. You if you collect ten nights, you get one free night. Guess what, only three percent, three to five percent, of theworld actually stays in a hotel more than ten nights. Ay, so plusepeople like us, Chad, are the the minority. Yeah, that's howthat's a hard staff for me as well, I mean, I guess, becauseI spend most used to spend most of my nights in hotels less thanten nights. Really, I mean yeah, and I had no idea. Imean and as much as I travel, I would I kind of feel stupidfor not knowing it. I had no idea that there were the majorchains owned single digit percentages of everything that was out there. It didn't evencross my mind. So you're really providing not only a centralized platform and aseamless customer experience, but you're introducing them...

...to opportunities and adventures and potential placesto stay that they may never have found no matter how long they spend searchingonline. Is that kind of a fair assassment? I think that's very fair, because it is difficult. We find may just finished the one point onour rewards program so what what we realize, and I realize this from running ahotel group with sixty hotwels, which is considered a very small group,or a midsize group, actually not a small group, that people didn't,you know, never really liked a program. So I said, okay, howwe're going to give them enough content? Okay, we've got enough on thesite that they could use the points. How do we make it worth?How do we make it work for them? Allow them to use thepoints immediately. They don't have to wait for ten nights to use those points. The moment they made one payment, they receive the points. They canspend those points on anything on our site. And that's that's great, because you'vegot lots of hotels. But guess what, I don't spend that manynights. So we said, put your points in a place, kick abutton and we'll put it in cash in your credit card. So you don'tkeep your points if you don't want to and you have it in cash inyour credit card, because you find that the road warrior, particularly, youknow, bit on the road for whatever hundred days or whatever a year.The last thing that person wants the free night, which was paid for bythe company anyway. What they want, what they really want, is ateddy there for the for the for the child who hasn't seen them for twoweeks, some flowers for the anniversary they missed. That's what they want.or or at the end of a hard day, they want to buy themselvesa drink more valuable than telling them, oh, stay another nine nights andI'm going to give you. I'm going to give you points the way youcan buy another night again. Yeah, that alone, that alone is ingenius, because you are one hundred percent right. I the last thing.I I have more points on more different places that just sit there and stareat me and I'm thinking to myself, you know, I just spent ahundred and thirty five nights on the road. Why? No, I want tobe at home, but I really do like the idea of the drinklike that. I could, if I could catch my points for the drinks, I'm down with that. Okay, you're you're my men. Well,that's where we came out. And the last the last point is then,if you're dealing with people like me, it's one thing, but you coulddealing with much of the world today, the traveling world. They want thoseexperiences and then they want to share. So the last point is a platformcalled up, by the way, about you also called you've got black booktravels, you've got my black book, you've got B bonus, which isthe bonus points, and you've got something called Black Book X. Black bookx again, is not what you think like book X is, is blackbook experiences. Take those experiences, share...

...them with your friends and everybody saysto be but I can do that on other social media platforms. The answeris hes along with pictures of dogs cats, but they cakes political views, whateverit is, you can hand that, but if you want it purely fortravel, peer to peer, you need something else. The second partis therefore they say, well, there is a you know, a reviewplatform again, and we we work with trip advisor, but that's not peerto peer. It's anonymous. You've no idea who is giving you a review. The reviews may be good, but you don't you don't know if youhave the same taste as that person. But on Black Book Xi aspirations youcan share people who are like you and, whether you know them or not,you've been following them for a while and you see what they what theydo, you like that connect with them, and the other side is then sharegenerally so that you can. Then you get you get a whole bunchof information and it shortcuts your process to planning. So that's, in summary, will what we are and it's a beautiful vision and I look forward toengaging with it myself. There was just a story here in Denver, Coloradoabout a young lady who wanted to go travel even during covid and all ofher friends wouldn't do it and she struggled to find just a random like mydid. Person finally did and they ended up sharing itineraries and crossing paths inTurkey. But it was I read the article. They talked about how muchtime they spent just trying to connect and and share those details. I can'timagine how easy and how many great new experiences and relationships this alone would have, especially if you have people that are very passionate about travel, as manyare. So I think that the beauty of the single source I'm excited tosee excited to see it and use it myself. I'm curious, though.Now you know, I'm sure when you started this we weren't nobody was expectinga pandemic, but I'm curious how covids impacted plans, launch plans, businessmodel, anything. How are you? How are you weathering the the currentsituation we're dealing with the COVID? COVID is devastating for so many reasons,at so many levels. About from the human tragedy it directly caused by thepandemic, there's a human tragedy caused by the fact that Almas cannot proceed andseveral curbs on our lives. I think there's a lesson in this and thatit's basically saying to us don't take anything for good to so what does thatmean? It does mean, however, that human beings by this is athis is this is, you know, my own perspective. Of course,human beings, by their nature, do enjoy travel, do need to travel, do need to get away. Secondly,...

...for business purposes, we do needto travel because, inasmuch as we can do what we are doing todayremotely, you need to see the whites of the eyes of people you workwith. So you do need to you do need to travel, and infact McKinsey just put out a very good study with regard to which industries willopen up first as we begin to tame the pandemic and over what period.And certainly that is that is going to to happen. From our perspective andour little part of it. It's having the confidence that, as an industryand as a human desire, travel will cut back. The second is,from a business perspective, in a very perverse way, if there couldn't bea better time to launch a travel APP, because people will look at you.They're not going to booking APPS now. They're looking for new things and thereon the web all the time. So you're not think you're not,you're not going to we're not going to a booking APP. And yes,we have a booking component, but that is not all of black book.So you know, believe it or not, in the last in the last justas we said we're going to launch, we've got something like a thousand peoplewho preregistered. We've got threezero or so followers on different social media platformsalready. So we start there. The second part is that, in myview, travel is going to take on with all of that, it's goingto take on a slightly different dimension. People are going to care a lotmore about hygiene and safety. People Are Airlines. Hotels are going to change. Have to change processes as regards pleading, social distancing and going so far asto redesign lobbies, the redesign places so that they're much safer. Staffwill have to go through different protocols and I guess I do all of thishaving come from another background where I was running hotel companies. So all ofthat will have to change, but travel will come back. I'm not goingto predict timing. The vaccine, if, if and when it comes on willbe a big, big draw. But we are seeing countries and placesthat that. If you look at China, for example, having where the crisis, if you like, had its biggest early impact. Today travel isback. Hotel occupancies have gone up into the s ray percentage points versus probablybelow thirty percentage the rest of the world because as they managed to make itto manage the pandemic and manage the virus, people have restarted. So I thinkthat that will happen from the perspective of black book, we need tocontinue to publicize orviously what we are doing. But the other side of it iswe are working with certain agencies that...

...are certifying hotels and certifying attractions andwe're seeing how to incorporate that in the site, either as a filter oras an attribute when you look at a hotel and say, look, thisis certified by Bureau Veritas or whoever they are. So we're looking at thatso that people know that they are you know, they can search and theycan they can seek out those places that are safer to be in. Theother side of it, of course, is the fact that we're not justselling flights. We believe that in larger countries, Singapore, of course,it's this is a tough one to say, but it is larger countries. Alot more travel will be on the road, so it'll be a littleless public transport. It may be collaborative public transport, that is smaller minibuses that kind of travel within a country, places you can drive to. You'vealready seen that in Thailand that as they've opened up people from Bangkok.I did a Webinar with somebody from, you know, from Bangkok and butactually he was sitting on a beach and go some way. So you know, it's it's already beginning to happen in such countries where there are attractions.The other part of it is, I see, therefore, the increase indomestic tourism, and those countries that have a an industrial plan for tourism,I think, will benefit from this, provided people like us. People likeUS provide the means to get to these places and, second, provide theinformation on the places and provide the coal attributes of safety so that people areconfident enough to travel. So that's how we approaching it, and we alreadyworking with agencies to make sure that we can. We can, we couldtell people which of the which of the travel products we have also defied,and I think having that one source of truth, not only from an experientialstandpoint but also from a safety standpoint. I agree with you one D percent. I think travels going, at least for me, the minute I getto the point where I feel like I'm going through providers, whether that couldbe going to hotels, are going to experiences or attractions where they are beingsafe, I'm going because I haven't been on a plane or out of thecountry in seven months. That's the longest in my career. I'm about tolose my mind. So there's gonna be a lot of people that want toget away and that trust in a source that says hey, we're looking outfor you as part of this experience. I think son be very huge andvery well received by any of the travelers out there. So I'm excited tosee that come to fruition for black book. Let's Change Direction here a little bit, and I want to be sensitive and respectful of everybody's time. Weask all of our guests two standard questions at the end of each inney.The first is simply, as a well respected and sought after CEO, thatmeans your prospect for a lot of people out there who are trying to sellhim. People are trying to give you your attention all the time. I'malways curious to know when somebody doesn't have...

...a trusted referral into you, somebodyhas a reference that they're they're walking in the door for you. How dothey capture your attention and and earn the right to time on your calendar?Chad, I think that I think that's really first of all, they needsto be a serious prospect. That's interesting. The stuff that I click the deletebutton on is I have I have looked at your profile and you needx y zed. Well, sometimes I don't, so so so. SoI find and they've looked at something completely different. They take it a standardybuild it that they sent out. So first of all, I think ithas to be relevant and if it is relevant, then absolutely I will lookat it because it's my duty to do that, not only to myself,to my company, by people in case has something that I know that mycolleagues are constantly inundated by stuff that I receive. So I think, Ithink, I think it would be great if somebody has just actually looked atwhat we do and will say, I think this is something you can youcan use. The second is, if it is something that I can't choosefor now, that they're respectful of that, because I do reply and, havinghaving having said okay, we can't use it, they respect that becausewhat that does is that allows them they are then in the door and theyknow that I will respond pre in the future when there is something that Ineed. Absolutely and I you know, I think if more people would justdo that, take a second say hey, guys, got your message, wecan't use what what you're doing or dealing right now. That, Ithink, would save a lot of people a lot of time and actually builda lot of credibility for him. So the last question we ask call itour acceleration inside. If there was one thing, just one piece of adviceyou could give sales, marketing or consultants, professional services people, one piece ofadvice that, if they listened to you, believe would help them hittheir targets or exceed them. What would it be and why? I thinkit would be it's a Chinese problem. Know you're edity and know yourself.Thousand Battles, a thousand victories and most of the time we either delude ourselvesabout ourselves or have some stylized view about the about the target. So knowwhat you know, know what you could actually do for somebody, because ifyou know what you could do for them as opposed to what you have tosell, then they're listening to you and know that. So that's that.That would be my my view, and that I love it. I loveit. Hey, well, if a listener is interested in learning more aboutblack book where would you like us to send them? Website, other places, but please, please go to black book dot SG, which is ourwebsite, as I said to and we...

...when we were chatting earlier. It'sopaque. But if you go to to black book, which is black,one more time, is spelt black book, one would black book dot SGE.The moment that launches, it will be it will connect to directly intothis gives you an overview and they'll be much more information the moment we've launchedand there will be information connecting you directly to the booking site, burn thedownload side and on its social media platforms and in particularly part we are onwe are on facebook, we're on Instagram, we're on Linkedin, on the blackbook, Black Book travels backsline, and please look us up. Welove it here. Well, I can't thank you enough for taking the time. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show today chat.Thank you so much asking me. All right, everybody that does it forthis episode. You know the drill. CHECK US out of BEBB exactcom sharewith friends, family, Co workers, but your kids listen to it.It's better than screen time. Form until next time. We have value sellingassociates, with you all nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening tothe BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode,subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you somuch for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (238)