Meet Bartolomeo Bufi: Startup star
Learn how one of our Premier partners grew their property portfolio by 300% in 10 months – by staying agile, flexible and open to customer input.
In 2018, Premier Connectivity Partner Kross Booking won our Peak Season competition by driving the highest share of properties to join the Genius Partner Programme. As a result, they were awarded an extra promotional push on the Booking.com extranet – boosting their daily accepted-connection requests by 63% in November alone. We spoke to Kross Booking co-founder and CEO, Bartolomeo Bufi, about the secrets behind the small startup’s success.
“Winning the Peak Season competition was an honour and a strong boost for our visibility.” - Bartolomeo Bufi, Kross Booking CEO & Co-founder
Can you tell us a bit about Kross Booking?
Kross Booking is a startup company, founded in October 2016 by a group of young entrepreneurs and developers working together since 2001. We’re based in Bari, in the heart of Apulia in the south of Italy. It’s a place famous for warm weather and seafood, where hospitality is a lifestyle. When we started there were only 18 properties using our solutions. In early 2017, we had 150 connected properties and that was the moment we started talking with Francesca, our Partner Business Manager at Booking.com. Together we made a bet that if we could reach 1,000 properties by the end of March 2017, we would get her Booking.com-branded backpack, and we did! By the end of 2018 we reached a total of 3,800 properties – growing more than 300% in 10 months.
What makes your business unique?
From the start, we decided to create an end-to-end solution, including PMS, channel manager, booking engine and a mobile app tailored to each hospitality segment – from classic hotels to vacation rentals. In the beginning, we were unable to convert some of our leads that were only interested in certain parts of our packaged solutions. For us, this was a signal to start a conversation with them in order to understand their wishes and needs. With this approach, we were able to understand the market better and build a stronger, demand-driven product, which led to happier customers. We barely invest in marketing – all our resources go into the development of our product. Our company is mostly based on organic growth by word of mouth.
How do you view your partnership with Booking.com?
Booking.com is an unlimited source of inspiration. The people, the way you look at things. It was really a unique experience to see how Booking.com gave us – a company of our size – the opportunity and support to grow. Booking.com looks at our potential, not only where we are at the moment. This is something Booking.com can be proud of, and it reflects on the company’s really strong values.
“It’s always refreshing to see the commitment of Kross Booking. Whenever there’s an issue they turn it into an opportunity – it’s a real pleasure to work with them.” - Francesca Carvaruso, Booking.com Partner Business Manager
What’s next for Kross Booking?
We’ve built a strong product, so the future challenge is to build a strong company. A special focus this year will be on developing solutions for business travellers. We aim to reach a total of 10,000 properties by the end of this year. However, our main wish is to keep the enthusiasm that motivates us and makes us enjoy our work.
Do you have any advice for your industry peers?
For an industry so reliant on technology, the level of research investment into that technology is really low overall. We think there is still a lot of space to develop, especially with the opportunities that cloud and mobile technology offers.