5pm, the Scottish founded online booking site has announced it will launch as a new co-owned platform, Kooble, with the aim of transforming the booking landscape for hospitality businesses and consumers in Scotland.
Newly co-owned by leading operators within Scotland’s hospitality industry, Kooble will unveil its ground-breaking platform, poised to shake up the online booking market in September.
With a mission to provide a fair and sustainable platform, Kooble aims to halve the commissions typically paid by businesses to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), charging businesses around 15% and remitting up to a remarkable 7.5% back to the merchants. In comparison, many OTAs retain the entire commission.
As a non-profit cooperative with no external shareholders, Kooble levels the playing field by directing profits back to hospitality businesses through a dividend. This unique model empowers businesses to reinvest a greater proportion of their profits, fostering growth and sustainability within the industry.
Kooble will also deliver an additional material benefit; by channelling business through the platform, hospitality operators will save money and increase profits, thereby seeing an immediate increase in the capital value of properties on their balance sheet.
In addition to these benefits, Kooble aims to deliver a new payment infrastructure for hospitality businesses. As a start, Kooble will eliminate the need for ‘virtual credit cards’ and their associated high fees, which currently take millions from the tourist economy.
In the lead up to its much-anticipated launch in September, more than 150 hospitality operators in Scotland have already pledged their support to Kooble, demonstrating the widespread confidence and support for what many in the industry have described as a ‘game-changing platform’.
Kooble will bring consumers the best rates and availability from hotels, restaurants, spas, and unique experiences across Scotland. By prioritising its member businesses, Kooble ensures exclusive access to offers and availability, giving consumers greater choice and value for money.
Kooble leverages 5pm’s established experience and expertise in the Scottish market, offering a seamless and reliable service for users as a result of new technology, personalised service and long-standing relationships that currently exist within Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry.
Ronnie Somerville, founder of 5pm and Kooble expressed his motivation for developing a platform with this model:
“We’ve long recognised the issues faced by businesses in the booking market, with colossal international booking conglomerates charging exorbitant commissions. Our vision was to change from ‘poacher’ to ‘gamekeeper’, creating a sustainable and attractive hospitality industry that benefits all. I believe that a co-operative booking platform, owned by the industry itself is the solution the tourism and hospitality sector has been waiting for.”
Somerville continued, “My vision is to spearhead a Scotland-wide movement that fosters a sustainable and thriving hospitality industry, benefiting all stakeholders. With our proven platform, expert team, and over two decades of experience, we have the necessary tools to turn this vision into a resounding success that empowers everyone involved.”
“Aligned with the Scottish Government’s Community Wealth Building Programme, Kooble exemplifies the principles of shared ownership, progressive procurement, and localised financial empowerment.”
“Looking to the future, we aim to expand the concept globally. We believe that a successful Kooble in Scotland will be the steppingstone to offering a multilingual and white label platform and playbook to other groups of hospitality businesses worldwide, who all have the same problem. Kooble turns the ambition of Scotland’s tourism strategy, Outlook 2030 into a reality, showcasing Scotland on the world stage as the leader in 21st century tourism.”
“Kooble is inviting customers of 5pm and Kooble to invest in this exciting new venture. On offer are Loan Notes, a kind of Savings Bond, valued at £1 each and available in £250 bundles to be repaid back in 10 years. Investors will receive a number of benefits including 10% back annually or 5% plus the Bank of England base rate, whichever is lower, and a free room stay in a Member hotel for every £250 bundle bought.”
The launch of Kooble has received accolades from industry experts, including Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance who said:
“Scotland’s tourism strategy, Outlook 2030, aspires to position our nation as a global leader in 21st-century tourism. Kooble’s inception embodies this ambition, presenting a sustainable and attractive hospitality industry that benefits all stakeholders and enables businesses to invest in their teams and offering which improves the quality and reputation of Scotland’s tourism product.
“With the raft of challenges faced by tourism and hospitality businesses in relation to the costs of doing business, the impact of the recruitment crisis and the current cost of living crisis, Kooble shines a light on the potential for a much brighter future for our industry.”
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