21 Jul Interview with Anand Patel, Founder of TalkHotels.com
Recently I’ve been enjoying the beta-test of TalkHotels.com, a new professional and social network for hoteliers and hospitality professionals. I’ve been sharing my knowledge and chatting with hotel industry members and had a chance to meet the founder, Anand Patel. He’s agreed to have an interview with me to share what it’s all about.
Simon: Hi Anand, please fill our readers in on the basic concept and features for TalkHotels
Anand: The concept for TalkHotels is simple: create a free networking tool for hospitality professionals to exchange ideas, opinions, and reviews of products and services. Hotels continue to face more challenges each year and I noticed there wasn’t a single tool they could use to get reliable, up-to-date, organized information from their peers. Of course, there’s trade magazines and a few notable hospitality blogs but that conversation is one-way; there isn’t much dialogue there between the people that are involved in day-to-day operations.
Simon: Give me a little history on what inspired TalkHotels
Anand: It really stemmed from the early experience I gained by working with hotels around the world. I made websites to help pay my way through college and the majority of my clients were in the hotel business so naturally, I heard stories about how difficult it became to find reliable information when you needed it most. With each story I heard, the idea for TalkHotels grew until I felt I had a pretty good, sustainable model to take to market. I guess the purest inspiration I had was the fact that nothing like TalkHotels existed before. I wanted to provide an authentic solution to a real-world problem and I believe I’m on the right track.
Simon: Here at Linkbuildr we’re pretty excited about how you are connecting vendors and services together with the hotel industry, Please elaborate.
Anand: The TalkHotels ‘Shop’ experience is designed to give hoteliers access to the largest collection of vendors and local service providers, along with unbiased reviews from their peers. If you operate a franchise hotel, you can’t just work with anyone so we wanted to provide our members with a catalog of vendors that was custom-built for you and the brands you’re involved with. As we grow and we get more vendors on board, we plan on introducing a handful of tools to make the buying process even easier for hotel operators. Simply put, the vision is to equip hotel operators with all the information they need in a concise manner to make educated, informed decisions on the go.
Simon: I see TalkHotels is taking on an environmental initiative as well. Tell us about these plans and your collaboration with CarbonFund.org?
Anand: Yes, the environmental initiatives were something I wanted to incorporate from the beginning because I’m aware of the impact hotels and travel/tourism in general has on the environment. As TalkHotels grows, I want to use our voice to help raise awareness and look for authentic solutions to reduce the impact hotels have on the environment. Right now, we’re planting a tree for each invite that’s requested. Later, we plan on introducing several other environmental initiatives for hotels and travelers to participate in.
Simon: Are you planning a mobile app version of TalkHotels?
Anand: Yes, that’s definitely something we’re working on in the near future. Before we fully jumped into creating a mobile version of TalkHotels, we wanted to build up our member base and gain insight as to what we can improve, what we can ditch, which features were deemed the most important, etc. We’re still in the process of gathering this information but we’ll definitely be unveiling an app for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and iPad in the near future.
Simon: Do you have plans for any additional features or services from TalkHotels?
Anand: Absolutely. I wish I could share more information but at this point, we’re still in the planning stages. Stay tuned, though, because we’re going to be introducing some new services that we feel our members will enjoy and gain tremendous value from.
Simon: TalkHotels is still in beta testing, do you know when you plan to launch officially?
Anand: We’re getting there. We still have about 200 invites to grant so once we grant those we’ll give those people ample time to sign up and tour TalkHotels. After that, we’ll open up the invite system so that our existing members can then invite people they know in the industry. In fact, we have some interactive promotions and campaigns planned for our existing members so that we can share TalkHotels with even more people. We plan on keeping it invite-only because we want our members to have total power to let in people who they feel will contribute to the TalkHotels network.
Simon: Thanks for your time Anand. For anyone involved or who follows this industry you really see the progressive nature that people outside don’t pick up on. The trends of the modern traveler are evolving at an accelerating rate, with new niches and new needs that constantly challenge hotels. For instance I just discovered a new category I’m slowly getting sucked into called the “micro-tripper”. It’s being built around the popularity of flash sales, private travel sales and group buying sites and is made of people interested in very short or last minute vacations. While there are always naysayers when any new social network arrives, the size of the global hospitality industry is big enough to warrant its own. And with the constant changes we’re seeing in travel, the demand within the industry for this will only grow. The Linkbuildr team is excited to see how the community expands and what new features are integrated. I’d be happy to check in with you for another post in the near future.
If you’re in the hospitality industry, or supply a product or service for hotels, make sure to check out TalkHotels. Right now it’s an invite-only network, so please visit to request an invite. And remember, they’ll plant a tree just for your request!
TalkHotels on Facebook
TalkHotels on Twitter
Email Anand – anandp[at]talkhotels.com
Follow Simon on Twitter: @S_Gerard