With more than 140,000 venues in 130 countries already using Meetingsbooker.com, Ciarán Delaney, its founder, is hoping the remote-working trend will facilitate further growth for the company in the months ahead.
Dublin-born Delaney launched the online booking platform in 2009 on foot of his own experience trying to book suitable venues for meetings when travelling overseas while working in tourism.
Now, with business travel largely on hold, he has shifted focus, adapting Meetingsbooker to suit the needs of the newly scattered workforce.
“We’re just about to close a deal with a new British client that will be closing 11 offices with over 750 employees,” Delaney said.
“They will use our platform to make sure that their remote workforce stays connected, that they have some face-to-face personal interaction from different locations. Our platform allows them to track those meetings. It’s a new market for us and there are huge opportunities.”
When Delaney launched Meetingsbooker initially, the USP for big employers was that it could automate the process of tracking costs arising from meetings in multiple locations.
“The focus now, with Covid-19, has shifted very much to safety. We’ve added functionality that means that when remote workers book spaces for meetings, their head office has full visibility on who’s attending with contact-tracing tools,” Delaney said.
“We recently launched a new Meet Safe program. This allows our partner venues to present their Covid-19 cleaning policies on our platform.
“Clients can search for venues based on the level of social distancing they can guarantee for meeting attendees. We’re also launching a new registration solution, which will give these attendees the option of attending meetings in person or virtually.”
Meetingsbooker sells directly to clients and also partners with business travel agencies, including American Express GBT, to manage bookings for their corporate clients.
The Dublin company’s other clients include BP, the British-headquartered oil and gas company, Sky, Amazon, Dyson and Slack.
The venues signed up to the platform in Ireland, include Iconic Offices, Workhub, Huckletree and Dublin restaurant The Woollen Mills.
“We try to build up an interesting mix of venues in all of the locations we’re in. About 45 per cent of our bookings are hotels and the remainder are these unique venue providers, like Breather, which has about 500 venues in the US and has just launched in London now as well,” Delaney said.
“We charge a licence fee and we also have transactional revenue. When people book venues on the platform for a couple of hours or days, we get a commission.
“Our licence fee varies depending on the size of the client, the level of customisation required and the number of markets the client will use the technology in. It ranges from €5,000 to €75,000 per annum.”
Meetingsbooker has raised €3 million over four funding rounds. Backers include ACT Venture Capital and Delta Partners as well as private investors Fergal Mooney, the former Hostelworld chief executive, and Fred Carlson, the founder of both DoneDeal.ie and Purpletag.ie.
“Starting and growing a business isn’t easy. Some people see entrepreneurship as being glamorous, but the reality is very different. It takes a huge amount of effort, persistence and commitment,” Delaney said.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to surround yourself with a strong team, board and investors. I’m very lucky to have a world-class team and supportive and smart investors on board.”
Meetingsbooker employs 11 people in Dún Laoghaire and is a client company of Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.
“Enterprise Ireland has supported us through HPSU (high potential start-up) investment while also offering invaluable mentoring and advice,” Delaney said.