Ray Nolan and Tom Kennedy of Hostelworld.com have won the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the 2003 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Awards in Ireland. The award was presented by the Minister of Finance, Charlie McCreevy at the ceremony attended by an estimated 500 people at the Burlington Hotel.
“Have a good plan, execute it well and be prepared to change it at a moments notice” was CEO & Founder, Nolan’s advice for entrepreneurs. Based in Dublin, Ireland, Hostelworld.com was founded in 1999 when I.T specialist Ray Nolan, and hostel owner Tom Kennedy, set out to facilitate online bookings into hostels. Existing entrants into the dotcom travel space had ignored the sector due to the low commission values involved. To succeed, the company needed to create a secure, fully-automated process which ensured that all bookings were honoured, and all customers would return.
With an innovative business model, which attracted hostels, and robust technology created in-house, some 4500 hostels in 145 countries now avail of the service. Self-financing and highly profitable, the company out-books its combined worldwide competitors by ten to one. It attracts over two million visitors per month to its websites and will sell €100m worth of accommodation in the next twelve months. Additional sales are generated through affiliate agreements with many of the worlds largest travel sites. The company aims to repeat the formula within the budget hotels space shortly.
An independent panel of judges selected Hostelworld.com from eight nominees in the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Category. Other categories included Industry Entrepreneur of the Year and International Services Entrepreneur of the Year. Speaking at the ceremony, Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy said “The indigenous sector continues to be of critical importance and must, therefore, be actively encouraged because, above all, entrepreneurship requires courage”
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