In the summer of 2015, Amanda Szabo founded ResortPass, a company that allows hotels and spas to efficiently provide amenities to day-only guests. In May 2016, she launched the company with one partner hotel—Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa in San Diego. Now, ResortPass partners with 40 hotels across the United States. Szabo claims that ResortPass “allows hotels to tap into and segment out an offering for different types of guests and offer people a new hotel experience.” She spoke with LODGING about how all hotels could benefit from this new, untapped market.
Was there an “a-ha!” moment that inspired the creation of ResortPass?
I live in San Diego, a city that has a lot of nice hotels and resorts. When I pass by these properties, I am always tempted to go relax by the pool and sunbathe, maybe even have a drink or check out the hot tub. I caved once and snuck into a resort, but I didn’t really feel comfortable because I was scared of getting caught the whole time! The whole point is to relax, and I’m just stressed out if I sneak in. The “a-ha” moment came when I asked myself, “Why can’t I just pay to be here?” The truth is that these outdoor areas are basically empty most of the time, especially on weekdays and during slow seasons.
It made me realize that the only reason I couldn’t just pay to go there is because the hotels don’t have a system to manage this specialized type of day guest. Day guests are a type of hotel guest; they’re just booking a separate set of amenities. They shouldn’t be considered outsiders, but instead visitors that are booking based on a different standard of availability and pricing.
From there, I took it upon myself to create a system that allows hotels to welcome and manage day guests. Guests want the bed, the shower, and the TV, but our day guests only want the pool, the spa, and the cabana. With ResortPass, they get access to these amenities.
How does ResortPass work?
ResortPass works on a commission-based model. There’s no set up cost or monthly fees, so we only take commission on the day guests that we bring in and on the bookings that go through our website. So if somebody books a day pass, spa pass, or a cabana, we take our commission.
The commission also includes all of the marketing costs. Hotels don’t have to do anything to reach potential customers because we’re bringing guests directly to them. We handle all the technology and the customer service so that when the day guests visit, the money they spend on food, beverages, and other amenities goes straight to the hotel. The hotels are also able to block out days and manage that access, which is key. So that’s been a big part of the incremental revenue as well.
Right now, your focus is on partnering with hotels in warmer climates. Are you looking to expand into other regions?
Those are the key regions, yes. But ultimately any hotel that has a pool or a spa can benefit from our program. Hotels in New York City that have a rooftop pool or a spa will attract people who want to enjoy these services. It also helps hotels take back some business from home-sharing entities such as Airbnb. Those give travelers a place to sleep, but they rarely offer amenities beyond that. Guests are choosing these alternative accommodations for reasons such as price or space, so it is important for hotels to recapture those guests in any way that they can.
What has feedback been so far?
The hotels love having an additional revenue stream from an existing set of amenities without doing any of the work. If the amenities go unused, it’s a waste of time and maintenance. We’re bringing guests and managing the whole booking process, which makes it much easier for them.
What’s in the future for ResortPass?
We’re developing some awesome software solutions for hotels to manage their amenities and connectivity for their own hotel guests, a product called ResortPass Concierge. We have a lot of exciting initiatives that work toward the goal of maximizing hotel’s non-room amenities and activities, whether it’s through these day guests or through their own overnight guests. So even economy brands would be able to benefit from our program.