Setting up Beauport and putting together a structure to help other management teams do what we did has been a really exciting process, and now we’re starting to see the results, it’s becoming a really rewarding journey.
When we first started Rentalcars, we saw ourselves as a car rental broker. We had a great customer proposition but we wouldn’t have classed ourselves as a technology company. Online advertising was in it’s infancy (Google adwords was only in it’s second year) and the majority of travel bookings were still done over the phone or in travel agents. It was becoming obvious that focusing on the online elements of the business would give us the edge on our competition, so that’s what we did.
The early days were hard work, it was the business first and everything else second, but we were lucky to have a really hard working team around us who wanted to succeed as much as we did. As the business grew over the first few years, so did the workload. Our booking numbers were growing quickly and it was always a challenge to grow the business infrastructure at the same rate. A lot of what we learned in the early days was by doing, and it was when we failed that we learned the most. We decided very early on that fear of failure wasn’t going to stop us moving quickly.
By the time we were acquired by The Priceline Group in 2010 we were already the biggest in Europe, and the help and support that the Priceline and Booking.com management teams gave us helped us to become the biggest in the world. Just a couple of years later, we had doubled the number of languages we sold in, we’d tripled the number of locations we had on sale, we’d quadrupled our turnover and the rentalcars app was the most downloaded car rental app in the world.
Working closely with the Booking.com founders and management team taught us the importance of learning from people who had already been down the same path, and the immense value that can bring to a business. That’s what we want to do now. There’s so many businesses out there that have a great customer proposition but need a little help to scale, or to internationalise, some struggle with online advertising or with conversion rate optimisation. We’re lucky to have seen the journey through from struggling startup to being part of the biggest travel company in the world, and now we want to share the experience.