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Now there's an app to book private hotel rooms by the hour and help you close the deal — but no, it's not what you think.
Professionals in New York, San Francisco and Chicago have quicker, easier access to luxury business meeting venues for their next offsite, thanks to Bizly, a start-up that launched in those cities on Thursday.
The mobile app allows professionals to book meeting spaces in hotels up to a month in advance when their offices do not have enough space or if they just need a change of scenery. Bizly takes the sharing economy, marketplace booking ideas behind WeWork and Hotel Tonight and expands them for short-term event planning at venues like W Hotels, Mandarin Oriental and Omni Berkshire.
Founder and CEO Ron Shah said many companies are shrinking their work spaces as more employees work outside of the office. Hotels became the perfect spaces to provide these companies with "mobile work space" because they have amenities, service and quality that large companies search for, Shah said.
"Bizly is the only platform in the world that does bookings and meetings at hotels," Shah said. "There are other platforms where you can book somebody else's spare conference room at their office or somebody's spare desk, but what we found was that companies couldn't rely on the quality and they didn't know what they were going to get."
Booking a hotel meeting room requires a person to call, negotiate a rate for the space and sign a contract. This process can take three to four days, but Bizly's goal is to make the process much simpler. Within a few taps in the Bizly mobile app, you can have your meeting room booked and ready to use.
Bizly focuses on meetings in hotels for up to 40 people with rates starting at $50 per hour. The company has partnerships with 25 hotels in New York City, 10 hotels in Chicago and 11 hotels in San Francisco.
The company has also signed up partners to provide video conferencing and other technologies in the meeting room, Shah said.
Shah said the company is working on rewards programs that users and hotels can benefit from.
"In the fall, we do plan to have two types of rewards plans. One is a Bizly rewards program that would give guests freebies, whether it may be using the spa, other amenities at the hotel or free meeting space," Shah said. "We also will do a program with some of the large hotel groups around their existing loyalty programs, so there will be some loyalty integration that's a couple of months away."
Bizly is also working to make programs for private dining rooms and restaurants as meeting places. The company has already signed with some restaurant companies in New York to provide similar services for private dining, Shah said.
Shah said he got the idea for Bizly while at his investment office in New York — the building was under construction for six months.
"I thought I would be able to use hotels that were near my office. There were like 10 great hotels and I tried to use them for the meetings," Shah said. "It was a very painful process, and I realized then that technology should be there to solve that problem."